Right now is crunch time for seed collecting in the Klamath-Siskiyou. Late blooming, low elevation plants are setting seed as collecting in the low country winds down. Mid-elevation plant seeds are ripening up in abundance as the summer heat sets in. Early flowering, high elevation plants are beginning to set seed as well, beginning the high elevation seed collecting season which lasts until October. We have been out in the field as much as we can collecting native plant seeds for fall and winter planting.
While Klamath-Siskiyou Native Seeds collects a wide variety of native plant seeds that we feel will be of interest for retail sales, we also offer contract seed collecting services. This service gives landowners, gardeners, nurseries, and botanical gardens the peace of mind that the specific species they need will be collected in a specified quantity. Rates for seed collection services vary, so email us today with your project needs: email@example.com
High elevation wildflower season is at its peak. Take a hike in the mountains to beat the summer heat and get out and experience the high elevation wildflowers in bloom while you can!
This Wildflower Show in Ashland features over 300 species of native flowers from the volcanic Cascades, the much older Siskiyous, and the valleys in between. Free admission. Location: Ashland Community Center, 59 Winburn Way (across from Lithia Park in Ashland). Coordinated by the Siskiyou Chapter, Native Plant Society of Oregon (NPSO). Come meet some of our beautiful mountain flowers!
I helped collect wildflowers for the show today, and helped with the setup at the community center. It’s going to be a great show with lots of amazing flowers from throughout southern Oregon. Check it out! -Suzie
Have you ever wanted to learn more about native bees and native plant pollination? I highly recommend taking Siskiyou Field Institute’s (SFI) Native Bees of the Siskiyous course, taught by native bee expert, Robbin Thorp. Last weekend I attended this course and was really glad I did. SFI’s field courses are always so good. Being a lover of native plants and natural ecosystems, it’s only natural to want to understand as much as possible about the native pollinators these plants depend on for their reproduction, and vice versa — the mutualism between bees and flowering plants is fascinating!
World-renowned native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, UC Davis emeritus professor of entomology, was the recipient of the 2015 UC Davis Distinguished Emeritus Award for his outstanding scholarly work and service accomplished since his retirement in 1994. He is the co-author of Bumble Bees of California: An Identification Guide (2014, Princeton University Press) and California Bees and Blooms: A Guide for Gardeners and Naturalists (2014, Heyday Books).
The Siskiyou Field Institute is an amazing resource for getting in-depth, field-based knowledge about the amazing Klamath-Siskiyou Ecoregion. Check out their courses!
Below are some photos from the course:
Bumble bees blowing in an evening breeze on mule’s ears (Wyethia angustifolia).
Male bumble bees do not have pollen baskets because they don’t help provision the nest as female queens and female worker bees do. Male bumble bees are only responsible for feeding themselves, pollinating flowers as they go. Male bumble bees do not return to the nest at all after the larval stage. Instead, male bumble bees sleep in, on, or under the flowers that they forage on for food. In the early evening, as the sun is beginning to wane and the day cools down, male bumble bees will pick a flower to sleep on, then they will forage on the flower until dark, positioning themselves in a protected place for the night.
Bumble bees on mule’s ears (Wyethia angustifolia) in the early morning, after spending the night on and underneath the flower, before beginning their day of pollination services for many native plants.
When morning comes and the temperature is still cool, male bumble bees can immediately drink nectar to increase their metabolism and warm up before the sun comes out and they begin foraging.
Mule’s ears is a widespread plant in the Klamath-Siskiyou. It is flowering now in many plant communities, including ponderosa pine forest, foothill woodland, chaparral, and valley grassland. You will often find a diversity of pollinator species enjoying the floral resources that mule’s ears provides.
The pale and unassuming beauty of white rushlily (Hastingsia alba) is often overlooked. Found only in northern California and southern Oregon, white rushlily is a common site for botany enthusiasts who hike around the region, but in general, is a little known plant.
White rushlily grows in many different habitat types but is most often found in moist areas in forest, brush, meadow, riparian, wetland and rocky places. Depending on the soil type it can grow up to 3′ tall, but if the soils are particularly harsh it will be much smaller, especially on serpentine soil.
Hastingsia is a small genus in the plant family Asparagaceae, the asparagus family, and the subfamily Agavoideae, the agave subfamily. The genus Hastingsia used to be classified in the lily family, hence the name white rushlily, but this has changed in recent years. Now Hastingsia is classified in the same subfamily as California native plants such as desert agave (Agave deserti) and Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia). Seem strange to you? Plants are great teachers about the interconnectedness of species. There are two other plant genera in the Klamath-Siskiyou that are also in the agave subfamily: Camas (Camassia) and Soaproot (Chlorogalum).
Other related and endemic rushlilies in the Klamath-Siskiyou are also worth searching out. In the northern part of the Illinois Valley of southern Oregon grows the large-flowered rush lily (Hastingsia bracteosa var. bracteosa). In the southern part of the Illinois valley of southern Oregon grows the purple flowered rushlily (Hastingsia bracteosa var. atropurpurea). In northern California grows the Klamath rushlily (Hastingsia serpentinicola). For more information on the taxonomy of Hastingsia species in the Klamath-Siskiyou Ecoregion, please check out: Species boundary quandaries in Hastingsia (Agavoideae, Asparagaceae).
Although white rushlily grows in wet meadows, bogs and rocky seeps in the wild, it is easily adapted to the irrigated garden environment; it is happy to dry out in the late summer, as it does in many seasonal seeps and springs in the wild. Flowering occurs between May and June at lower elevations and June to July at higher elevations. Growing white rushlily from seed is easy to do but will take some patience. From seed it will be several years until the bulb develops enough stored energy to flower. Propagation by seed requires three months of cold stratification.
Many pollinator species use white rushlily in the garden, including many different bumble bees. I recently stopped to check a patch of showy milkweed for use by monarch butterflies and realized the milkweed was growing in a natural rocky seep on a roadside in combination with white rushlily, right in the valley bottom. It is a highly adaptable plant.
Hastingsia alba (Durand) S. Watson
Habit: Bulb 26–56 mm, 17–31 mm wide. Inflorescence: dense; branches generally 2–3. Flower: 6–8 mm; perianth parts elongating as anthers mature, equal, white to +- yellow, outer +- 1 mm wide, linear, blunt, inner +- 2 mm wide, ovate, acute. Fruit: 6–9 mm, oblong. Chromosomes: n=26.
Ecology: Wet meadows, bogs, rocky seeps; Elevation: 500–2300 m. Bioregional Distribution: NW, CaR, n SNH; Distribution Outside California: southwestern Oregon. Flowering Time: Jun–Jul
Synonyms: Schoenolirion album Durand
Seed collecting season has begun! As the warm and sunny days of summer approach, early blooming native plants are starting to set seed. It’s a good time to think ahead and plan for seed planting this fall and winter.
What native plant species will you need seed for this year?
Habitat Restoration:Klamath-Siskiyou Native Seeds encourages those currently planning a habitat restoration project to take advantage of our contract seed collecting services to make sure you get the seeds you will need in time for implementation of your project. Contact us about your project and for more information regarding our contract seed collecting services. Source-identified seeds adapted to the Klamath-Siskiyou Ecoregion will establish better than seed sourced from outside the ecoregion, and they provide local genetic stock for regional pant conservation.
Garden use: Perhaps you need seed for a particular plant species? For a pollinator garden, rock garden, native specimen plant, bird habitat, native medicinals, native edibles, or for your backyard botanical garden? For specific requests we recommend that you make a pre-order to let us know what you are looking for. Pre-orders make it more likely we will search out the particular species you want as we collect larger amounts from common and more popular species.
Now is the time to let us know what native seed you are looking for!
This past weekend Klamath-Siskiyou Native Seeds had a booth at the Master Gardener’s Spring Garden Fair at the Jackson County Expo. This two-day event near Medford, Oregon is the largest garden fair in between San Francisco, California and Portland, Oregon. This year saw record attendance at the Fair and our booth was very busy!
The enthusiasm we encountered for native plants was very encouraging. There is a growing interest in planting natives for wildlife habitat, birds, pollinators, native plant conservation, water conservation, wild food, plant medicine, and beauty! Folks that stopped by our booth bought native seeds and plants for backyard gardens, as well as for habitat restoration and biodiversity on their land.
It is always a joy to engage the public about the benefits of planting natives. Direct contact with our customers at events allows for detailed discussions about native seed and plant propagation techniques, as well as choosing appropriate plant species for various geographic locations and site-specific conditions.
Thanks to everyone for a very successful and fun event!
Anise swallowtail butterflies (Papilio zelicaon) are a welcome sight in the Klamath-Siskiyou in the summer. These large and showy butterflies are not only beautiful, but they are also pollinators that perform an ecological service. Although these beauties are common, it is always a treat to observe one as it nectars on flowers and flutters about. Unlike the well-known monarch butterfly that migrates each winter, swallowtail butterflies do not migrate. Instead, they form chrysalids in early fall which overwinter in protected places until emerging in the spring. As I write this post anise swallowtail butterflies have begun to emerge and be seen around the Klamath-Siskiyou.
Anise swallowtail butterflies use larval host plants in the family Apiaceae. In the Klamath-Siskiyou this includes Lomatium species, which go by common names such as desert parsley, buscuitroot, wild parsley, Indian parsnip, or just plain lomatium.
The name of the anise swallowtail butterfly came from the fact that, as its native habitat has diminished, it has adapted to using non-native fennel — sometimes referred to as wild anise — as a larval host plant. It will also use carrots, parsley and parsnips in a vegetable garden, so keep an eye out. I had about fifteen anise swallowtail butterfly caterpillars on parsley and parsnip plants in my garden last summer.
It’s too bad this butterfly species wasn’t called the lomatium butterfly instead, in order to highlight it’s native larval host plant. Lomatiums also provide habitat for all kinds of other pollinators and insects, including spiders, beetles, flies, bees and more.
This past summer I was lucky to find and observe numerous anise swallowtail butterfly chrysalids that developed from the caterpillars feeding on parsley and parsnips in my garden, including this chrysalis that I found on the eve of my house while cleaning my gutters.
The lifecycle of anise swallowtail butterflies is different in different ecotypes. At the McLaughlin Natural Reserve in Californiathey have observed the following: “Anise Swallowtail (Papilio zelicaon) is common throughout the western United States, and feeds on plants in the carrot family including the invasive fennel (Foeniculum vulgare). Populations on serpentine, such as those at the reserve, feed on serpentine endemic species of Lomatium. In most of its range the Anise Swallowtail is capable of undergoing more than one generation per year, but populations on serpentine may be genetically limited to a single brood per year. The pupae in serpentine populations may even remain dormant for several years before metamorphosing into adults; this is likely an adaptation to a harsh and fluctuating environment, just like seed dormancy in plants.”
As a defense mechanism anise swallowtail caterpillars have an unusal feature: osmeterium or “stinkhorns.” Home Ground Habitat Nursery(which has a great write-up on swallowtail butterflies by the way!) describes it this way: “The osmeterium is an eversible organ, concealed in a slit behind the head. If the larva is disturbed it everts the bright orange-colored osmeterium, and discharges a foul scent. The scent the larvae discharges upon eversion of its osmeterium comes from a secondary biochemical compound produced by a number of plants in the carrot family (Apiaceae). The biochemical compound is not essential to the life of the plant; but necessary to elicit feeding by the larvae. The osmeterium is just one of the defenses against visual predators; in the case of birds, most of which do not have a highly developed sense of smell, it might be more the startling effect of a sudden change to the form of the larvae that affords some protection.”
In addition to be a larval host plant for anise swallowtails, and habitat for a whole host of other beneficial pollinators and insects, lomatiums are also amazing medicinal plants for people! What’s not to love about lomatiums? In Michael Moore’s classic book, Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West, he writes the following about lomatium: “Lomatium has been used for centuries as a medicine by Native Americans who live in the Great Basin; it was used by many Mormon settlers in Utah and Nevada, and it was well known by some Oregon pioneers. They all used it for lung problems, bad fevers, and pneumonia, and there are many references to its value for persistent winter fevers…Further, several of the aromatics have been shown to limit replication or shedding in many viruses, and they also seem to shorten the duration of the viral infection and limit the surface area of mucus membranes that become infected.”
Common Lomatiums of the Klamath-Siskiyou:
Lomatium californicum — up to 4′ tall and usually found growing on wooded or brushy slopes, in open grassy areas, or in upland prairie.
Lomatium dissectum — up to 4′ tall and usually found growing on wooded or brushy slopes, in open grassy areas, or in upland prairie.
Lomatium triternatum — up to 3′ tall and usually found on open slopes and in pine woodland.
Lomatium nudicaule — 1′-2’tall and usually found on rocky slopes, flats, brushy areas, and generally pine woodland.
Lomatium macrocarpum — 4″- 1.5’tall and found in rocky openings within forests and has an affinity to serpentine soil.
Lomatium urticulatum — 4″- 1.5′ tall and found in open grassy slopes, meadows and woodland.