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Chocolate lily (Fritillaria affinis)

The Daily Bucket is a regular feature of the Backyard Science group.  It is a place to note any observations you have made of the world around you.  Snails, fish, insects, weather, meteorites, climate, birds and/or flowers.  All are worthy additions to the bucket.  Please let us know what is going on around you in a comment.  Include, as close as is comfortable for you, where you are located.
This week (Wednesday June 11), we went for our first-of-the-season wildflower walk up at Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic National Park.  The highlight of the walk was my first sighting of the Fritillaria affinis.  I imagine that it has been blooming on previous hikes, but I've never seen it before. You really need to be looking for it since it doesn't stand out in bright colors.  It is also known as Mission bells and Checker lily.

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(All photos by me or Mr. Watt, in Lightbox...click to enlarge)

We regularly take a couple of trips each summer up to Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic National Park to see wildflowers.  I'm beginning to collect enough data to be able to compare different years and have some expectation for what might be blooming at different times during the short summer season.  The melt-off was early this year because of a low snowpack, so we went up earlier than we have ever gone before.  We walked along the popular Hurricane Hill trail that we've done many times in the past. There weren't great views of the mountains because of the weather, but it was a spectacular show of wildflowers and that was my goal for the trip.

Atmospheric Hurricane Hill Trail

My closeup photos tend to exaggerate the scale of these subalpine wildflowers.  Nothing stands much more than 1 foot tall at this point in the season.  Many plants are hugging the ground like Martindale's desert parsley which is about 3-4 inches tall and spreads 4-10 inches in diameter.

Martindale's desert parsley (Lomatium martindalei)

Two of my favorite spring wildflowers are the white Avalanche and yellow Glacier lilies.  They are aptly named since they often push up through the snow as it melts.

Avalanche lilies (Erythronium montanum) and Glacier Lily (Erythronium grandiflorum)

One striking difference on this trip was how some hillsides were dominated by mats of Spreading phlox in bloom.  I think phlox was responsible for the fragrance wafting across the trail.

Early blue violets (Viola adunca), Spreading phlox (Phlox diffusa), and Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja sp.)

Rockslide larkspur (Delphinium glareosum) among Phlox and Indian paintbrush

It seemed still a bit early for the lupine, but there were a few patches where they had started to blossom.  These serve as a preview of the taller plants that will soon populate the meadows.

Broadleaf lupine (Lupinus latifolius) and Western wallflower (Erysimum capitatum)

Western Spring Beauty (Claytonia lanceolata)

Western Spring Beauty (Claytonia lanceolata)

Showy Jacob's Ladder

Showy Jacob's ladder (Polemonium californicum)

Some plants seem to prefer the crevices on rock outcroppings.

Silky Phacelia with bumblebee

Silky Phacelia (Phacelia sericea) with Bumblebee

Smooth Douglasia (Douglasia laevigata), named for early explorer, David Douglas.

It's a harsh habitat, clinging to the rocks

This has only been a sample of the wildflowers we saw.  Here's the list of those I've been able to ID: Threadleaved sandwort (Arenaria capillaris), Indian paintbrush (Castilleja sp.), Western Spring Beauty (Claytonia lanceolata), Rockslide larkspur (Delphinium glareosum), Tower larkspur (Delphinium glaucum), Smooth douglasia (Douglasia laevigata), Wandering daisy (Erigeron peregrinus), Western wallflower (Erysimum capitatum), Glacier lily (Erythronium grandiflorum), Avalanche lily (Erythronium montanum), Chocolate or checker lily (Fritillaria affinis), Small-flowered woodland star (Lithophragma parviflorum), Martindales desert parsley (Lomatium martindalei), Barestem desert parsley (Lomatium nudicaule), Broadleaf lupine (Lupinus latifolius), Silky Phacelia (Phacelia sericea), Spreading Phylox (Phlox diffusa), Showy Jacob's ladder (Polemonium californicum), Broadleaf stonecrop (Sedum spathulifolium), American vetch (Vicia americana), and Early blue violet (Viola adunca).  This is essentially the list we've seen in previous summers until about mid-July.

Oh, and it wasn't all plants.

Well, of course, I've been nibbling on the wildflowers!

To compare with late summer on the same trail, see my bucket from our August 6, 2013 wildflower walk.  We will probably be going back a couple more times this summer to see the progression and collect more data.

Your turn!  


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Originally posted to Backyard Science on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 06:30 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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