Native Monarch Butterfly Nectar Plants in the Klamath-Siskiyou

Monarch nectaring on broad-leaved lotus (Hosackia crassifolia) Photo: Jean Pawek
Monarch nectaring on broad-leaved lotus (Hosackia crassifolia) in California. Photo courtesy of Jean Pawek. Check out Jean’s wildflower photos on CalPhotos
Photo courtesy of Tanya Harvey www.westerncascades.com
Monarch nectaring on Western coneflower (Rudbeckia occidentalis) in the Western Cascades, Oregon. Photo courtesy of Tanya Harvey
www.westerncascades.com
Monarch nectaring on pearly everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea) Photo courtesy of Jean Myers www.casadosrios.net
Monarch nectaring on pearly everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea) Photo courtesy of Jean Myers, Gilroy, California. www.casadosrios.net

 

 

 

 

POST UPDATE: There has been a great response from the original post! Many people have contacted me with their monarch experiences. The following nine new photos have been submitted! Thanks for sharing your photos everyone!

Monarch nectaring on mockorange (Philadelphus lewisii). Photo courtesy of Tanya Harvey. Taken in Oregon's Calapooya Mountains in August 2012. westerncascades.com
Monarch nectaring on mockorange (Philadelphus lewisii). Photo courtesy of Tanya Harvey. Taken in Oregon’s Calapooya Mountains in August 2012. westerncascades.com
Monarch nectaring on blue dicks (Dichelostemma capitatum). Photo courtesy of Kerstin Commagere. Taken in early April in the Sierra Nevada foothills south of Jackson.
Monarch nectaring on blue dicks (Dichelostemma capitatum). Photo courtesy of Kerstin Commagere.  Taken in early April in the Sierra Nevada foothills south of Jackson. intherangeoflight.com
Monarch nectaring on mountain monardella (Monardella odoratissima) in the Siskiyou Mountains. Photo courtesy of Linda Kappen.
Monarch nectaring on mountain monardella (Monardella odoratissima) in the Siskiyou Mountains. Photo courtesy of Linda Kappen.
Monarch nectaring on mountain monardella (Monardella odoratissima) in the Siskiyou Mountains. Photo courtesy of Linda Kappen.
Monarch nectaring on mountain monardella (Monardella odoratissima) in the Siskiyou Mountains. Photo courtesy of Linda Kappen.
Monarch nectaring on arrowleaf ragwort (Senecio triangularis) in the Siskiyou Mountains. Photo courtesy of Linda Kappen.
Monarch nectaring on arrowleaf ragwort (Senecio triangularis) in the Siskiyou Mountains. Photo courtesy of Linda Kappen.
Monarch flying off from narrowleaf milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis). Photo courtesy of Frank Lospalluto.
Monarch flying off from narrowleaf milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis). Photo courtesy of Frank Lospalluto.

 

Monarch nectaring on sneezeweed (Helenium bigelovii) on Grayback Mountain in Southern Oregon. Photo courtesy of Frank Lospalluto.
Monarch nectaring on sneezeweed (Helenium bigelovii) on Grayback Mountain in Southern Oregon. Photo courtesy of Frank Lospalluto.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monarch nectaring on sneezeweed (Helenium bigelovii) on Grayback Mountain in Southern Oregon. Photo courtesy of Frank Lospalluto.
Monarch nectaring on sneezeweed (Helenium bigelovii) on Grayback Mountain in Southern Oregon. Photo courtesy of Frank Lospalluto.
Monarch nectaring on rubber rabbitbrush (Ericameria nauseosa) along the Little Grayback Trail in the Upper Applegate Valley of southern Oregon in August
Monarch nectaring on rubber rabbitbrush (Ericameria nauseosa) along the Little Grayback Trail in the Upper Applegate Valley of southern Oregon  on August 30, 2015. Photo courtesy of Jakob Shockey
MG_0439
Not a monarch, but this shows evidence of butterfly use of western thistle as a nectar plant in the Klamath-Siskiyou. Pale swallowtail (Papilio eurymedon) nectaring on western thistle (Cirsium occidentale), near Baby Foot Lake in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness, July 2011. Photo courtesy of Marvin Kellar. saunteringoregon.com

 

 

Back to the original post:

Information on the specific species of native plants that the western population of monarch butterflies uses for nectar is not well known. There are individual observations, photos, and generalized butterfly plant lists, but so far there isn’t a compilation of specific information on the use of monarch nectar plants. The Xerces Society is working on compiling a list of observed/documented monarch nectar plants for fourteen regions throughout the continental U.S. At the moment, Xeces says their most complete lists are for the eastern part of the country, but they have now started reaching out to folks on the west coast to get similar data for the western monarch population.

Due to the current dearth in information, Klamath-Siskiyou Native Seeds has made an initial attempt at compiling observed/documented monarch nectar plants native to the Klamath-Siskiyou bioregion of southern Oregon and northern California. This effort has been created through personal observation, observations by folks involved with Southern Oregon Monarch Advocates, extensive research to find photos, and correspondence with the Xerces Society, naturalists, botanists, native plant gardeners and fellow monarch enthusiasts.

Photo courtesy of Tanya Harvey www.westerncascades.com
Monarch on Western coneflower (Rudbeckia occidentalis) in the Western Cascades, Oregon. Photo courtesy of Tanya Harvey.
www.westerncascades.com

All plant species included in this blog post are native to the Klamath-Siskiyou bioregion. Many observations of monarchs using these plants have occurred outside the region, but it is a safe assumption, that if a monarch uses these species in a different part of the Western U.S., that it will also use the same species in the Klamath-Siskiyou as well. For this reason, we are including observations from outside this region as long as the plant is native here.

Please let Southern Oregon Monarch Advocates (SOMA)  know if you have observed an adult monarch butterfly using a native plant as a nectar source. Help us expand this list and expand our understanding of the monarch’s habitat. Email me at klamathsiskiyou@gmail.com, or Tom Landis from SOMA, at tdlandis@aol.com, to give us your observations. We are compiling this list to help citizen science inform land managers regarding the conservation and restoration of monarch nectar sources. The list will also be used by backyard gardeners, schools, parks and other community groups to identify the best species to use for monarch butterfly plantings and “waystations.” Together we can help advocate for ecologically appropriate plantings with the most useful and beneficial native plants for monarch butterfly habitat restoration and waystations.

If you have a photo of a monarch nectaring on a native plant, please share, as that is the best way to document use.

Check out the recent radio interview with folks from Southern Oregon Monarch Advocates (SOMA) on the Jefferson Exchange. Suzie, from Klamath-Siskiyou Native Seeds took part in the interview, along with Tom Landis from SOMA, and Linda Kappen from the Applegate School monarch project .  Listen to the interview here.

Pacific aster (Symphyotrichum chilense)
Pacific aster (Symphyotrichum chilense) This is a coastal species in southern Oregon and northern California. Observed as a monarch nectar plant by Jean Myers of Gilroy, CA. Photo courtesy of Jean Myers, www.casadosrios.net Las Pilitas Native Plant Nursery has also observed a monarch nectaring on this species. See their photo of a monarch on Pacific aster here.
Monarch nectaring on West coast goldenrod (Solidago elongata) in a meadow on the Siskiyou Crest. It's not easy task getting a photo of a nectaring monarch, as they usually fly off just as you approach. Blurred photos, like this one, are still great for documenting the use of nectar plants by monarchs..
Monarch nectaring on West coast goldenrod (Solidago elongata) in a meadow on the Siskiyou Crest. Photo taken by Suzie of Klamath-Siskiyou Native Seeds. It’s not an easy task getting a photo of a nectaring monarch, as they usually fly off just as you approach. Blurred photos, like this one, are still great for documenting the use of nectar plants by monarchs.
Sierra or Western larkspur (Delphinium glaucum) on Mt. Ashland. Photo courtesy of Hiram Towle. This species grows in moist, mountainous areas in the Klamath-Siskiyou.
Monarch nectaring on Sierra or Western larkspur (Delphinium glaucum) on Mt. Ashland in Southern Oregon. Photo courtesy of Hiram Towle, who, along with Steve Johnson from Southern Oregon Monarch Advocates, observed and documented this nectar plant use. This species grows in moist, mountainous areas in the Klamath-Siskiyou.

Below are  photos taken by Klamath-Siskiyou Native Seeds. These plants are all native to this bioregion, and have all been observed as monarch nectar plants, but unfortunately, we just don’t have a monarch in all the photos…yet! Observations of monarchs using the native plant species below are included in the photo captions.

Oregon false goldenaster (Heterotheca oregona) was observed by Kristi Mergenthaler as a monarch nectar plant, but I don’t have a photo to share for this observation.

Milkweeds are shown at the end. It appears to me, that even when a monarch is presented with multiple choices for nectar plants, if there is milkweed growing in the area, it prefers to nectar on the milkweed. Milkweed is not only the exclusive larval host plant for the monarch, it is also a preferred nectar plant for the adult butterfly.

Mock orange (Philadelphus lewisii)
Mock orange (Philadelphus lewisii) A common shrub in the Klamath-Siskiyou region, and well-loved by pollinators. Observed as a monarch nectar plant by Tanya Harvey in the Western Cascade Mountains of Oregon.
Mule's ears (Wyethia angustifolia)
Mule’s ears (Wyethia angustifolia) Found in sunny, dry meadows and on dry, sunny slopes. Observed as a monarch nectar plant by Lori Humphrys in Buford Park, Lane County, Oregon.
Butterfly on Sulphur flower buckwheat (Eriogonum umbellatum)
Checkerspot butterfly on sulphur flower buckwheat (Eriogonum umbellatum). This is the most common wild buckwheat in the Klamath-Siskiyou Mountains. Observed as a monarch nectar plant by Suzie Savoie in the Upper Applegate Valley of Southern Oregon.
Many butterflies species competing for nectar on Henderson's aster (Symphyotrichum hendersonii). Butterflies love plants in the Aster family, including the monarch butterfly. This photo was taken in our garden in October.
Henderson’s aster (Symphyotrichum hendersonii) Found in moist, high elevation meadows. Observed as a monarch nectar plant in a garden setting by Luke Ruediger in the Upper Applegate Valley of Southern Oregon.
Rubber rabbitbrush (Ericameria nauseosa) in the Applegate Valley
Rubber rabbitbrush (Ericameria nauseosa) Found on dry, exposed sites in the Klamath-Siskiyou.  An important late season nectar plant. Observed as a monarch nectar plant by Kristi Mergenthaler in Southern Oregon.
Golden current (Ribes aureum)
Golden current (Ribes aureus) This plant creeps into the Klamath-Siskiyou from the south and the east, and is known to grow in Siskiyou County and Klamath County. Observed as a monarch nectar plant by  Las Pilitas Native Plant Nursery in Southern California, who say, “monarchs love the flowers in early spring.”
Western verbena (Verbena lasiostachys)
Western verbena (Verbena lasiostachys) Found in dry, disturbed sites. This plant is an undervalued native plant and great nectar source, found growing in disturbed areas, such as roadsides, that are too harsh for many other native plants. Steve Johnson observed a monarch nectaring on western verbena on Point Mountain in Southern Oregon.
Ookow (Dichelostemma congestum) Observed as a monarch nectar plant by Kristi Mergenthaler in Southern Oregon.
Ookow (Dichelostemma congestum) Observed as a monarch nectar plant by Kristi Mergenthaler in Southern Oregon. Check out this photo of a monarch nectaring on blue dicks (Dichelostemma capitatum).
West coast goldenrod (Solidago elongata)
West coast goldenrod (Solidago elongata)
West coast goldenrod (Solidago elongata) grows in abundance in meadows in the Klamath-Siskiyou. This is an important late season nectar plant for the monarch butterfly as it makes its way south through the mountains.
West coast goldenrod (Solidago elongata) grows in abundance in meadows in the Klamath-Siskiyou Mountains. This is an important, late season nectar plant for the monarch butterfly as it makes its way south through the mountains on its way back to its overwintering grounds.
Horsemint (Agastache urticifolia) in the large meadows of the Silver Fork Basin, the headwaters of Elliott Creek in the Siskiyou Mountains.
Horsemint (Agastache urticifolia) A high country meadow plant, growing in abundance in many mountainous regions. Observed as a monarch nectar plant by Luke Ruediger and Kristi Merganthaler in Southern Oregon.
White leaf manzanita (Arctostaphylos viscida)
White leaf manzanita (Arctostaphylos viscida) Monarchs have been observed nectaring on Manzanitas in California, so it is assumed that they will use them here too. Photo of a monarch on manzanita in California
Western thistle (Cirsium occidentale)
Western thistle (Cirsium occidentale) Grows in dry, sunny locations in the foothills. Observed as a monarch nectar plant by Las Pilitas Native Plant Nursery in California. See their photo of monarch on Cirsium occidentale here.
Groundsel (Senecio integerrimus var. exaltatus) on the slopes above the Klamath River. Butterflies love nectaring on plants in the genus Senecio. Linda Kappen observed a monarch nectaring on Senecio triangularis in Southern Oregon.
Groundsel (Senecio integerrimus var. exaltatus) on the slopes above the Klamath River. Butterflies love nectaring on plants in the genus Senecio. Linda Kappen observed a monarch nectaring on Senecio triangularis on the Siskiyou Crest.
Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana var. demissa)
Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana var. demissa) Las Pilitas Native Plant Nursery has observed a closely related variation of this same species of chokecherry, Prunus virginiana var. melanocarpa, as a nectar source for monarch butterflies. See their photo here.
Mountain monardella (Monardella odoratissima)
Mountain monardella (Monardella odoratissima) A lover of dry, exposed, rocky areas. Observed as a monarch nectar plant by Kristi Merganthaler, Linda Kappen, Suzie Savoie and others in Southern Oregon.
Monarch on showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa)
Monarch on showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa)
Monarch caterpillar on showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa)
Monarch caterpillar on showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa)
Newly emerged monarch
Newly emerged monarch
Heartleaf milkweed (Asclepias cordifolia)
Heartleaf milkweed (Asclepias cordifolia)
Narrow leaf milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis)
Narrow leaf milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis)

The Clipper: Grain, Seed and Bean Cleaner

The Clipper: Grain, Seed and Bean Cleaner
The Clipper: Grain, Seed and Bean Cleaner made by A.T. Ferrel & Co.

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.

Using the Clipper to clean seed in the shop.
Suzie using the Clipper to clean seed in the shop.

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.

Joy and Cherie cleaning seeds.
Joy and Cherie cleaning seeds 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.

Seed Harvesting

Picking beargrass (Xerophyllum tenax) seed in the Siskiyou Mountains.
Picking beargrass (Xerophyllum tenax) seed in the Siskiyou Mountains.

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!

Madrone berries (Arubutus menziesii)
Madrone berries (Arubutus menziesii)

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.

Fall colors of Pacific dogwood (Cornus nuttallii)
Fall colors of Pacific dogwood (Cornus nuttallii)

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.

rubber rabbitbrush (Ericameria nauseosa)
rubber rabbitbrush (Ericameria nauseosa)
western boneset (Ageratina occidentalis)
western boneset (Ageratina occidentalis)
woodland beard tongue (Nothochelone nemorosa)
woodland beard tongue (Nothochelone nemorosa)
Picking coyote mint (Monardella odoratissima) and sulphur flower (Eriogonum umbellatum) in the first snow flurries of the season in the high country of the Klamath-Siskiyou.
Picking mountain monardella (Monardella odoratissima) and sulphur-flower buckwheat (Eriogonum umbellatum) seeds in the season’s first snow flurries in the high country of the Klamath-Siskiyou.

Late season bloomer: Common tarweed (Madia elegans)

Common tarweed (Madia elegans)
Common tarweed (Madia elegans)

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.

Common media is a host plant for the owlet moth (Heliothodes diminutiva)
Common madia is a host plant for the owlet moth (Heliothodes diminutiva)

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.

Common tarweed (Madia elegans)
Common tarweed (Madia elegans)

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.”

Common tarweed (Madia elegans) can commonly be found in roadside refugia.
Common tarweed (Madia elegans) can commonly be found in roadside refugia, where the land is untilled and unirrigated.

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 .

 

Early Season Inventory

Silver lupine (Lupinus albifrons) with western thistle (Cirsium occidentale) in the foothills.
Silver lupine (Lupinus albifrons) with western thistle (Cirsium occidentale) in the foothills.

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 klamathsiskiyou@gmail.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

Pearly everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea)
Pearly everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea)

Woodland madia – Anisocarpus madioides

Woodland madia (Anisocarpus madioides)
Woodland madia
Woodland madia (Anisocarpus madioides)
Woodland madia (Anisocarpus madioides)

Deltoid balsamroot – Balsamhoriza deltoidea

Deltoid balsamroot (Balsamorhiza deltoidea)
Deltoid balsamroot (Balsamorhiza deltoidea)

Tolmie’s cat’s ear – Calochortus tolmiei

Tolmie's cat's ear (Calochortus tolmiei)
Tolmie’s cat’s ear (Calochortus tolmiei)

Large Camas – Camassia leichtlinii

Large camas (Camassia leichtlinii)
Large camas (Camassia leichtlinii)

Common camas – Camassia quamash

Camas (Camassia quamash) near an old Indian village site near Agness on the Illinois River.
Camas (Camassia quamash)

Western thistle – Cirsium occidentale

Western thistle (Cirsium occidentale)
Western thistle (Cirsium occidentale)
Western thistle (Cirsium occidentale)
Western thistle (Cirsium occidentale)

Hound’s tongue – Cynoglossum grande

Hound's tongue (Cynoglossum grande)
Hound’s tongue (Cynoglossum grande)

Umbrella plant – Darmera peltata

Umbrella plant or Indian rhubarb (Darmera peltatum) flower, emerging prior to the leaves in spring.
Umbrella plant or Indian rhubarb (Darmera peltatum)

Shooting star – Dodecatheon hendersonii

Shooting star (Dodecatheon hendersonii)
Shooting star (Dodecatheon hendersonii)

Oregon sunshine – Eriophyllum lanatum

Oregon sunshine (Eriophyllum lanatum)
Oregon sunshine (Eriophyllum lanatum)

Henderson’s fawn lily – Erythronium hendersonii

Henderson's fawn lily
Henderson’s fawn lily (Erythronium hendersonii)

Wild hybrid fawn lily – Eyrthronium citrinum x hendersonii

Wild hybrid fawn lily (Erythronium citrinum x hendersonii)
Wild hybrid fawn lily (Erythronium citrinum x hendersonii)
Wild hybrid fawn lily (Erythronium citrinum x hendersonii)
Wild hybrid fawn lily (Erythronium citrinum x hendersonii)
Wild hybrid fawn lily (Erythronium citrinum x hendersonii)
Wild hybrid fawn lily (Erythronium citrinum x hendersonii)

California poppy – Eschscholzia californica

California poppy (Eschscholzia californica)
California poppy (Eschscholzia californica)
California poppy (Eschscholzia californica)
California poppy (Eschscholzia californica)

Fern leaved lomatium – Lomatium dissectum

Fern leaved lomatium (Lomatium dissectum)
Fern leaved lomatium (Lomatium dissectum)

California lomatium – Lomatium californicum

California lomatium (Lomatium calfornicum)
California lomatium (Lomatium calfornicum)

Large fruited lomatium – Lomatium macrocarpum

Large fruited lomatium (Lomatium macrocarpum)
Large fruited lomatium (Lomatium macrocarpum)

Silver lupine – Lupinus albifrons

Silver lupine (Lupinus albifrons)
Silver lupine (Lupinus albifrons)

Bicolored annual lupine – Lupinus bicolor

Bicolored annual lupine (Lupinus bicolor)
Bicolored annual lupine (Lupinus bicolor)

Indian warrior – Pedicularis densiflora

Indian warrior (Pedicularis densiflora)
Indian warrior (Pedicularis densiflora)

Western buttercup – Ranunculus occidentalis

Western buttercup (Ranunculus occidentalis)
Western buttercup (Ranunculus occidentalis)

Golden current – Ribes aureum

Golden flowering current (Ribes aureum)
Golden current (Ribes aureum)

Henderson’s triteleia – Triteleia hendersonii

Henderson's triteleia (Triteleia hendersonii)
Henderson’s triteleia (Triteleia hendersonii)

Monarch Butterflies Use Heartleaf Milkweed (Asclepias cordifolia) in the Klamath-Siskiyou

Heartleaf milkweed (Asclepias cordifolia)
Heartleaf milkweed (Asclepias cordifolia) in the Dakubetede roadless area in the foothills of the Little Applegate Valley in southern Oregon.
Close-up view of heartleaf milkweed (Asclepias cordifolia) flowers.
Close-up view of heartleaf milkweed (Asclepias cordifolia) flowers.

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.

Heartleaf milkweed (Asclepias cordifolia) in the Kangaroo Roadless Area, south of the Red Buttes Wilderness
Heartleaf milkweed (Asclepias cordifolia) in the Kangaroo Roadless Area, south of the Red Buttes Wilderness, just above the Klamath River

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.

Monarch caterpillar eating a stem of milkweed in a rearing cage.
Monarch caterpillar eating a stem of milkweed in a 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.

Heartleaf milkweed (Asclepias cordifolia) in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness on serpentine soil.
Heartleaf milkweed (Asclepias cordifolia) in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness on serpentine soil.

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.

Youtube video: Monarch butterflies use heartleaf milkweed (Asclepias cordifolia) in the Klamath Siskiyou

Bottom of Heartleaf milkweed (Asclepias cordifolia) flower with a monarch egg in the center of the photo.
Bottom of Heartleaf milkweed (Asclepias cordifolia) flower with a monarch egg in the center of the photo.
Heartleaf milkweed (Asclepias cordifolia) with monarch eggs on a leaf and with camera case for scale. This was the small size of plant that the monarch was ovipositing on.
Heartleaf milkweed (Asclepias cordifolia) with monarch eggs on a leaf and with camera case for scale. This was the small size of plant that the monarch was ovipositing on.
Monarch egg on heartleaf milkweed (Asclepias cordifolia)
Monarch egg on heartleaf milkweed (Asclepias cordifolia)

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!

Native Plant Appreciation Week

Hartweg's wild ginger (Asarum hartwegii) at the headwaters of Goff Creek in the Kangaroo Roadless Area
Hartweg’s wild ginger (Asarum hartwegii) at the headwaters of Goff Creek in the Kangaroo Roadless Area

The Native Plant Society of Oregon is celebrating it’s annual Native Plant Appreciation Week this week, April 26-May 2, 2015. California already celebrated California Native Plant Week April 11-April 19, 2015.

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.

www.oregonflora.org

www.calflora.org

Check out some of the native plant groups that promote native plants of the Klamath-Siskiyou bioregion:

North Coast Chapter, California Native Plant Society

Shasta Chapter, California Native Plant Society

Siskiyou Chapter, Oregon Native Plant Society-Facebook page

Clustered lady's slipper (Cypripedium fasciculatum)
Clustered lady’s slipper (Cypripedium fasciculatum)

Happy Native Plant Appreciation Week!

Vanilla leaf (Achlys triphylla) in the Siskiyou Wilderness
Vanilla leaf (Achlys triphylla) in the Siskiyou Wilderness

Resources for Klamath-Siskiyou native plants and plant propagation

Real Gardens Grow Natives: Design, Plant & Enjoy a Healthy Northwest Garden
Real Gardens Grow Natives: Design, Plant & Enjoy a Healthy Northwest Garden

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

www.realgardensgrownatives.com

“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
Growing California Native Plants By Marjorie G. Schmidt
  • 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 By Robin Rose, Caryn E.C. Chachulski, and Diane L. Haase
  • 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, Processing and Germinating Seeds of Wildland Plants By James A. Young & Cheryl G. Young
  • 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
Seed Propagation of Native California Plants By Dara E. Emery
  • 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
The Jepson Manual: Vascular Plants of California, Second Edition
  • 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
California Native Plants for the Garden By Carol Boornstein, David Foss, and Bart O’Brien
  • 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.

Seed Germination Tips

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 9.46.25 PMScreen Shot 2015-03-23 at 9.46.50 PM

Instructions for seed germination of milkweed species (Asclepias spp.).
Instructions for seed germination of milkweed species (Asclepias spp.). Page 1
Instructions for seed germination of milkweed species (Asclepias spp.). Page 2
Instructions for seed germination of milkweed species (Asclepias spp.). Page 2

Seed Circus!

Klamath-Siskiyou Native Seeds table at the Seed Circus
Klamath-Siskiyou Native Seed’s table at the Seed Circus

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!

For more information about the seed circus visit: https://www.facebook.com/events/614561075341437/

Seed circus!
Seed circus!
Klamath-Siskiyou Native Seeds