It may be an old-timer, but this Clipper seed cleaner still does the job. Leather straps, wood, and metal is all this antique electric seed cleaning machine is made of. Modern materials augment some missing parts, but the authentic feel remains. Clipper seed and grain cleaners have been manufactured by the A.T. Ferrell Company, Inc. since 1869. The one that I’m using to clean native seeds from the Klamath-Siskiyou bioregion (pictured above), is thought to be from the 1920s.
The Clipper seed cleaner has many different wooden-framed screens to clean various sizes and shapes of seed. The machine oscillates the screens and a fan blows the chaff to separate it from the seed. Many native seeds can be cleaned using the Clipper, but some still need to be cleaned the real old-fashioned way: by hand.
October is the month to finish cleaning, processing and packaging seed from this year’s harvest. The Clipper will be running steadily, helping clean native seeds to be used for habitat restoration, pollinator gardens and native plant landscaping this fall and winter.
Please stay tuned for our final inventory list which will be posted soon.
Right now the native seed harvest is going strong as many species ripen and the summer fades into fall. Fall is a wonderful time of year to get out for a seed collecting backpacking trip — the mosquitoes are gone and the crowds have died down for the season. Fall colors have already begun to show a little here and there, especially the soft pink of dogwood. Colorful berries are cheerfully ripening on trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants. Some species have produced prolific crops this year, despite the drought, while others are holding back their bounty for another year. As a seed collector, the hard part is beating the birds to the berries!
Just this past week I was picking seeds in the high country of the Siskiyou Mountains in snow flurries for about twenty minutes! This week it’s supposed to be in the nineties in the valleys. Such swings in the weather are typical for the Klamath-Siskiyou bioregion in the fall, and it helps the seeds ripen up fast.
As the seed picking season begins to wind down in late fall we will have a complete inventory list. For now we are prioritizing seed picking excursions and cleaning the seed when we have some spare time. Contact us if you have something in particular that you are looking for.
Enjoy the last warm days of summer! And the beauty of our wonderful late season flowers, some examples of which are seen below.
Long before valley-bottom fields, grasslands and open areas in the Klamath-Siskiyou bioregion were covered in non-native and invasive star thistle (Centaurea solstitialis) or dyer’s woad (Isatis tinctoria), some were covered with the dainty, yellow, daisy-like flowers of the native common tarweed (Madia elegans). Tarweed is an annual wildflower in the sunflower family. In the Klamath-Siskiyou it occurs in grasslands and open forest, typically at mid to low elevation. It flowers in summer and early autumn, from northern Oregon through the California Floristic Province and Great Basin Province south to Baja California. The flowers curl up during the daytime, opening late in the day and remaining open until the middle of the next morning. (An explanation of why can be read in this SF Gate article.) The foliage exudes fragrant oil, and the plants are sticky, hence the common name tarweed. It is an often-overlooked native plant that deserves more respect and attention.
The seeds of tarweed are eaten by many birds and small mammals, such as mourning doves, quail, blackbirds, finches, Oregon juncos, California horned larks, western meadowlarks, American pipits, sparrows, towhees, mice, ground squirrels and chipmunks. Being a late bloomer, tarweed is an important late nectar source for butterflies, bees and other beneficial insects.
Once, while picking tarweed seed, I discovered that there was a particular green caterpillar found in abundance in the large tarweed patch. After research I learned that the owlet moth (Heliothodes diminutiva) uses tarweed as it’s host plant, eating the reproductive organs (i.e flowers) of the plant as it grows, sometimes sterilizing the plant entirely.
Tarweed seeds were also historically used as food by the local indiginous people; documented use of tarweed is known for the Hupa, Takelma, and Shasta tribes.
Examples of how tarweed seeds were historically used include:
Seeds parched and pounded into flour.
Seeds roasted with hot coals, pounded or rolled into flour.
Pulverized seeds eaten as a dry meal.
Seeds used to make pinoles, where seeds were roasted and eaten alone or mixed with manzanita berries, acorns and pine nuts.
Ground tarweed seeds mixed with ground hazelnuts and camas.
Many people are familiar with the use of camas and acorns as indigenous food sources; however, small seed crops, such as wild grass and tarweed, were also vitally important to the indigenous diet. The Klamath-Siskiyou tribes developed extensive land management practices to enhance all wild crops they relied upon. Techniques such as burning, pruning, tilling, weeding, and selective harvesting were most likely used. Additionally, the act of harvesting itself helped spread seeds for subsequent crops.
In 1841, Titian Ramsay Peale of the Wilkes Expedition, traveling through what is now Ashland, OR, wrote in his journal, “Indian signs were numerous, though we saw but one, a squaw who was so busy setting fire to the prairie and mountain ravines that she seemed to disregard us….She had a large funnel shaped basket which they all [women] carry to collect roots and seeds in.” It is assumed that this woman probably was burning to obtain tarweed or grass seeds, or at least to enhance their future growing conditions.
George Riddle, who settled in southern Oregon in 1851, described in his book, History of early days in Oregon, tarweed gathering among the Takelma-speaking Cow Creek Indians along the South Umpqua River: “During the summer months the squaws gather various kinds of seeds of which the tar weed was the most prized…. When the seeds were ripe the country was burned off. This left the plant standing with the tar burned off and the seeds left in the pods. Immediately after the fire there would be an army of squaws armed with an implement made of twigs shaped like a tennis racket with their basket swung in front they would beat the seeds from the pods into the basket. This seed gathering would only last a few days and every squaw in the tribe seemed to be doing her level best to make all the noise she could, beating her racket against the top of her basket. All seeds were ground into meal with a mortar and pestle.”
Consider encouraging this wildflower if it already exists on your property or in your area, or plant some seeds for the future. As an annual it is really easy to grow from seed and self sows in open soil! The historical and ecological value of tarweed could enhance your own land or local ecosystem. Tarweed would be ideal for gardeners or restoration practitioners attempting to mimic a native prairie and/or grassland landscape. Tarweed seed is best planted in late winter to allow for a deep root system to develop before summer; however, in a garden setting infrequent summer watering will be tolerated by this species .
Provided below is a list of Klamath-Siskiyou Native Seeds currently in and available for 2015-2016. This list is just a few of the species that ripen early, but there will be many more to come! All seed stock from 2014-2015 will now be discounted to $3 per packet in order to make way for this season’s harvest. Please contact me for discounted seed availability at email@example.com. Enjoy the summer, but look forward to fall seed planting!
-Klamath-Siskiyou Native Seeds
Seed Availability: Please contact us and let us know what species and quantity you are interested in.
Pearly everlasting – Anaphalis margaritacea
Woodland madia – Anisocarpus madioides
Deltoid balsamroot – Balsamhoriza deltoidea
Tolmie’s cat’s ear – Calochortus tolmiei
Large Camas – Camassia leichtlinii
Common camas – Camassia quamash
Western thistle – Cirsium occidentale
Hound’s tongue – Cynoglossum grande
Umbrella plant – Darmera peltata
Shooting star – Dodecatheon hendersonii
Oregon sunshine – Eriophyllum lanatum
Henderson’s fawn lily – Erythronium hendersonii
Wild hybrid fawn lily – Eyrthronium citrinum x hendersonii
Monarch butterflies have been making their way through the Klamath-Siskiyou for over a month now. They have made their way from their overwintering grounds on the southern California coast along their ancient migratory path. On April 18, 2015 I saw the heartleaf milkweeed, or Asclepias cordifolia (ASCO), in full bloom in the Kangaroo Roadless Area, south of the Red Buttes Wilderness, and just above the Klamath River. With this first sight of the season of blooming milkweed I knew that the monarchs would soon be on their way. I was not sure, however, if monarchs use ASCO within the Klamath-Siskiyou range, as I hadn’t come across any literature to show it does (that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, I just hadn’t seen any). I had a mission: find and document proof that monarchs use ASCO plants in the Klamath-Siskiyou bioregion.
ASCO populations tend to be more scattered and remote than the more familiar showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa) and narrowleaf milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis) that are common in the lower elevations and valley bottoms of northern California and southern Oregon.
Just a week later, on April 29, 2015 I observed the first monarch eggs laid on a showy milkweed patch in my garden. The monarch chose to lay her eggs on the less mature and smaller plants within my milkweed patch. As the eggs hatched I have brought the tiny caterpillars into a rearing cage to allow them a safe place to develop. Once they emerge from their chrysalis as a butterfly they will be tagged for monitoring purposes and released back to their wild migration. Currently I have 18 caterpillars in the rearing cage. They eat milkweed endlessly and need to have the cage cleaned of their “frass” a couple times a day. They are so much fun to watch and observe. I have given 12 caterpillars to two other monarch advocates associated with the group Southern Oregon Monarch Advocates, who are helping make sure the vulnerable caterpillars have a secure place to mature. I needed the help, as raising caterpillars is no easy task. Out of the 104 eggs initially laid there have been 30 caterpillars to make it. Predation is a very serious issue for monarchs, with wasps being a very big threat—well, besides human threats, but that’s another story. To see more you can watch my Youtube video of the caterpillars moving around on milkweed plants within the rearing cage.
On May 15, 2015 I visited the Kalmiopsis Wilderness where I observed another patch of flowering ASCO. This patch was quite extensive, but it was also isolated; I didn’t observe any ASCO anywhere else on an overnight backpacking trip in the area. I searched the ASCO up and down for any signs of eggs or caterpillars and didn’t find any. Because I knew that monarchs had already started to lay eggs I was disappointed not to see use of this big ASCO patch.
The Upper Applegate Valley of southern Oregon also has some isolated plants of ASCO. I was able to visit a couple of these plants and they too were devoid of any monarch activity. At this point I was starting to doubt that monarchs use ASCO plants.
On June 4, 2015 I finally found what I had suspected: monarchs do use Asclepias cordifolia in the Klamath-Siskiyou area! I was able to document through photo and video monarchs ovipositing on ASCO in the Dakubetede roadless area in the Little Applegate Valley of southern Oregon, an area that the BLM has identified as “an area with wildland characteristics.” I knew of a population of ASCO located on and near a rock outcrop on a south-facing spur ridge. The rock outcrop is surrounded by sloping grassland with oak woodland and mixed conifer forest nearby. Check out the Youtube video I made about this experience by following the link below.
When I posted my Youtube video I noticed that someone else had just posted a video showing that monarchs use ASCO in the Sierras, near Emigrant Gap. That video was posted on May 31st, 2015 and can be viewed here.
My hunch was right: Monarchs use ASCO plants as they migrate through the mountains, in between stops at milkweed patches in the valley bottoms. This milkweed species that is adapted to a more rocky, exposed and mountainous habitat sustains the monarch through the mid- to high-elevations along its ancient migratory path.
Plant milkweed in your garden or yard for monarch butterfly recovery. Wild patches have become more rare and should be protected!
For more information about native plants of the Klamath-Siskiyou you can check out the Oregon Flora Project for Oregon’s native plants, or Calflora for California natives. These are the best websites for detailed information, including excellent photos and maps.
Check out some of the native plant groups that promote native plants of the Klamath-Siskiyou bioregion:
The flora of the Klamath-Siskiyou is unique, but it is also a blend of all the surrounding bioregions: high desert, interior valley, Pacific Northwest, California, and the Coast Ranges. In order to learn about the flora of the Klamath-Siskiyou, one must search out information from all these other areas, as there is no comprehensive guide to the region as a whole.
Although many people will tell you that books are becoming irrelevant in the internet age—I beg to differ. Books are still an invaluable resource for native plant knowledge, identification, propagation and gardening. I will feature a limited list of some of my favorite resources.
Real Gardens Grow Natives: Design, Plant & Enjoy a Healthy Northwest Garden
By Eileen M. Stark
“IMAGINE A GARDEN that genuinely belongs in its setting and reflects the natural world, where bumblebees and woodpeckers thrive amid beautiful plants that require less effort to grow. This is a real garden, and Real Gardens Grow Natives shows you how to design such a dynamic, wildlife-friendly space using Northwest native plants. From colorful, sun-loving borders to lush, shady retreats, native plants form a spectacular outdoor setting, while also providing important habitat corridors for birds, butterflies, and other creatures local to your neighborhood.” -Real Gardens Grow Natives
This new publication has beautiful photos and is full of valuable and useful information. Although the author is writing from Portland, Oregon, and the book is focused on northwest native plants, many plants featured in the book are also native to the Klamath-Siskiyou bioregion, or can be substituted with a Klamath-Siskiyou equivalent.
Growing California Native Plants
By Marjorie G. Schmidt
“A few California native plants have been in cultivation for a hundred years or so, but widespread consciousness of natives is relatively recent. It has arisen partly because of the recent drought, which natives survived more readily than exotics, and partly because of growing awareness that many natives have become rare or endangered, and may be preserved and perpetuated by cultivation for their ornamental qualities. The book is in full accord with the new trend in landscaping in which the environment, climate, and restricted water supplies are taken into account—not only for gardens but also for parks, roadside plantings, and other large-scale landscaping.” –Growing California Native Plants
Published in 1980, this book is still relevant and useful today. There have been some new methods developed for propagation of some plants that may supplant the methods in this book, but the information is still invaluable. You may find that some of the botanical names have changed since this book was published. This book looks at California flora as a whole, and many plants are not native to the Klamath-Siskiyou bioregion, but the ideas and concepts are very relevant to the area, and many of the plants are Klamath-Siskiyou natives.
Propagation of Pacific Northwest Native Plants
By Robin Rose, Caryn E.C. Chachulski, and Diane L Haase
“Propagation of Pacific Northwest Native Plants, the first publication of its kind, provides propagation information on nearly one hundred and forty native plants. Designed for use by both nursery professionals and home gardeners, this working manual presents the most current and comprehensive information in this emerging field. Drawn from forestry and agricultural journals, as well as gardening and horticultural handbooks and personal sources, the techniques presented here offer invaluable direction to the any who wish to grow native plants.” –Propagation of Pacific Northwest Native Plants
This book is well organized and easy to follow. There are a lot of good tricks of the trade to learn from this book to get you well on your way to native plant propagation. Although the book focuses on northwest native plants, the techniques are useful for related plants in the Klamath-Siskiyou. This book was first published in 1998.
Collecting, Processing and Germinating Seeds of Wildland Plants
By James A. Young & Cheryl G. Young
“Collecting seed is the responsible way of introducing splendid plants growing in the wild into your garden, it it is not a siple process. Gathering seed at the optimum time calls for knowledge of the plant’s life cycle; germinating seed successfully requires an understanding of the particular requirements for each species. James and Cheryl Young have drawn on thier years of practical field experience and exhaustive study of the research literature to provide the kind of detailed information needed by the gardener, naturalist or professional propagator.” -Collecting, Processing and Germinating Seeds of Wildland Plants
First published in 1986, this book covers native wildland plants from throughout the United States, including the Klamath-Siskiyou region.
Seed Propagation of Native California Plants
By Dara E. Emery
This book could be seen as the Bible for native California plant propagation as it includes suggested treatments for over 900 different species. It is so useful, that if you are going to try your hand at native plant propagation, you should not be without it. The reference system is easy to use and the techniques presented are a must-have for the serious propagator and weekend gardener alike.
The Jepson Manual: Vascular Plants of California (Second Edition, Thoroughly Revised and Expanded)
Edited by Bruce G. Baldwin, Douglas H. Goldman, David J. Keil, Robert Patterson, Thomas J. Rosatti, and Dieter H. Wilken
“The Second Edition of the Jepson Manual thoroughly updates this acclaimed work, the single most comprehensive resource on California’s amazingly diverse flora. Integrating the latest science with the results of intensive fieldwork, institutional collaboration, and the efforts of hundreds of contributing authors, this new edition is an essential reference on California’s native and naturalized vascular plants.
This edition includes treatments of many newly described or discovered taxa and recently introduced plants and it reflects major improvements in plant taxonomy. Nearly two-thirds of the 7,600 species, subspecies, and varieties that the volume describes are now illustrated with diagnostic drawings. Geographic distributions, elevation ranges, flowering times, nomenclature, and the status of non-natives and native taxa of special concern have been updated throughout. The second edition also allows for identification of 240 alien taxa that are not fully naturalized and features a new chapter on the geologic, climatic, and vegetation history of California.” -The Jepson Manual
Hand’s down this is the best book for plant identification in the Klamath-Siskiyou region. Botanists may have disputes regarding the accuracy of classification between the first edition and the second edition of the Jepson Manual, but that aside, this book is undoubtedly the real Bible for plant knowledge in our region.
California Native Plants for the Garden
By Carol Boornstein, David Foss, and Bart O’Brien
The three authors of this book bring a combined level of experience that has created this wonderful and highly respected publication. As a comprehensive resource, this book features 500 plants and is illustrated with 450 color photographs. This book appeals to all types of gardeners and habitat restoration practitioners. The book offers great advice for plant care and plant selection.
Klamath-Siskiyou Native Seeds had a booth at the Rogue Valley Seed Exchange and Seed Circus — put on by Families for Food Freedom — yesterday, in Ashland, OR. What a fun event! Seed lovers and plant enthusiasts of all kinds came out to join in the festivities to further develop and engage community seed networks. Native seeds have an integral role to play in sustainable agriculture and land management. It would be great to see more communities having events that encourage community seed networks, such as this one in Ashland. Thanks to everyone who helped make the event a success!
Tucked into the borderlands of northern California and southern Oregon, the Klamath-Siskiyou Mountains are a place of raw, rugged beauty renowned for their biodiversity. The region is home to more species of conifer —32 of them—than any other temperate conifer forest in North America. The Klamath-Siskiyou ranks second in North America in terms of endemism (organisms found nowhere else in the world), and third in total species richness.
The region rises abruptly, creating a jumbled mass of rugged and diverse mountains, jagged peaks, wild rivers, and deep forest. Ancient and complex bedrock defines the Klamath-Siskiyou region as a whole. This seemingly haphazard patchwork of rock types creates and supports an unusually diverse and contrasting mosaic of habitat types, microclimates and plant diversity.
The following is a description of the Klamath-Siskiyou by the World Wildlife Fund. The Klamath-Siskiyou Region is on WWF’s “Global 200: The Most Outstanding and Representative Areas of Biodiversity.” For their complete description please visit the link below. This description was written in the 1990s, but is still relevant to this day.
“Temperate Coniferous Forest: Located in northwestern California and southwestern Oregon, complex terrain, geology, climate, and biogeographic history have created one of the Earth’s most extraordinary expressions of temperate biodiversity in the Klamath and Siskiyou Mountains. Although well known among biologists, few North Americans realize the uniqueness and importance of the species and communities in this ecoregion. Indeed, logging, mining, road building, and grazing continue to be intensive and pervasive threats to this area.
Description Biological Distinctiveness
The Klamath-Siskiyou ecoregion is considered a global center of biodiversity (Wallace 1982), an IUCN Area of Global Botanical Significance (1 of 7 in North America), and is proposed as a World Heritage Site and UNESCO Biosphere Reserve (Vance-Borland et al. 1995). The biodiversity of these rugged coastal mountains of northwestern California and southwestern Oregon has garnered this acclaim because the region harbors one of the four richest temperate coniferous forests in the world (along with the Southeastern Conifer forests of North America, forests of Sichuan, China, and the forests of the Primorye region of the Russian Far East), with complex biogeographic patterns, high endemism, and unusual community assemblages. A variety of factors contribute to the region’s extraordinary living wealth. The region escaped extensive glaciation during recent ice ages, providing both a refuge for numerous taxa and long periods of relatively favorable conditions for species to adapt to specialized conditions. Shifts in climate over time have helped make this ecoregion a junction and transition zone for several major biotas, namely those of the Great Basin, the Oregon Coast Range, the Cascades Range, the Sierra Nevada, the California Central Valley, and Coastal Province of Northern California. Elements from all of these zones are currently present in the ecoregion’s communities. Temperate conifer tree species richness reaches a global maximum in the Klamath-Siskiyous with 30 species, including 7 endemics, and alpha diversity (single-site) measured at 17 species within a single square mile (2.59 km2) at one locality (Vance-Borland et al. 1995). Overall, around 3,500 plant species are known from the region, with many habitat specialists (including 90 serpentine specialists) and local endemics.
The great heterogeneity of the region’s biodiveristy is due to the area’s rugged terrain, very complex geology and soils (giving the region the name “the Klamath Knot” [A noteworthy book titled The Klamath Knot was written by David Rains Wallace in 1983]), and strong gradients in moisture decreasing away from the coast (e.g., more than300 cm (120in)/annum to less than 50 cm (20 in)/annum). Habitats are varied and range from wet coastal temperate rainforests to moist inland forests dominated by Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), Pinus ponderosa, and P. lambertiana mixed with a variety of other conifers and hardwoods (e.g., Chamaecyparis lawsoniana, Lithocarpus densiflora, Taxus brevifolia, and Quercus chrysolepis); drier oak forests and savannas with Quercus garryana and Q. kelloggii; serpentine formations with well-developed sclerophyllous shrubs; higher elevation forests with Douglas fir, Tsuga mertensiana, Abies concolor and Abies magnifica; alpine grasslands on the higher peaks; and cranberry and pitcher plant bogs. Many species and communities have adapted to very narrow bands of environmental conditions or to very specific soils such as serpentine outcrops. Local endemism is quite pronounced with numerous species restricted to single mountains, watersheds, or even single habitat patches, tributary streambanks, or springs (e.g., herbaceous plants, salamanders, carabid beetles, land snails, see Olson 1991). Such fine-grained and complex distribution patterns means that any losses of native forests or habitats in this ecoregion can
significantly contribute to species extinction. Several of the only known localities for endemic harvestman, spiders, land snails, and other invertebrates have been heavily altered or lost through logging within the last decade, and the current status of these species is unknown (Olson 1991). Unfortunately, many invertebrate species with distribution patterns and habitat preferences that make them prone to extinction, such as old growth specialist species, are rarely recognized or listed as federal endangered species. Indeed, 83 species of Pacific Northwest freshwater mussels and land snails with extensive documentation of their endangerment were denied federal listing by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1994 (J. Belsky, pers. comm. 1994).
Rivers and streams of the Klamath-Siskiyou region support a distinctive fish fauna, including nine species of native salmonids (salmon and trout), and several endemic or near-endemic species such as the tui chub (Gila bicolor), the Klamath small-scale sucker (Catostomus rimiculus), and the coastrange sculpin (Cottus aleuticus). Many unusual aquatic invertebrates are also occur in the region.” -WWF