Nature Notes

Volume IV No. 1 - July, 1931

Flowers, Where The Scene-shifter - Nature - Is Always Busy
By Lincoln Constance

The casual visitor to Crater Lake is quite apt to be disappointed when he fails to encounter the profusion of flowers which greet him at Rainier or Yosemite. The light soil of the windswept Rim has not yet put forth its full burden of vegetation, but even the intermittently stormy weather has not prevented the alpine meadows near by from producing a rainbow of color. This floral display is best exhibited in the Castle Crest Gardens, Copeland Meadows and Munson Valley, but let us visit the first, as the most representative and accessible.

On the open flat we encounter the Newberry's Knotweed (Polygonum newberryi), conspicuous by its large oval leaves, jointed stem, and greenish flowers. The brilliant yellow of the Sulfur Flower (Eriogonum umbellatum), growing close to the ground, next attracts the eye. Among the rocks at the side of the trail the Western Anemone Windflower (Anemone occidentalis) rears it round, feathery fruits. Just before reaching the meadows, the Wild Bleeding-Heart or Dutchman's Breeches (Bicuculla formosa) and the False Solomon's seal (Vagnera amplexicaulis) cooperate to form a border of pink, white and green, and so enliven the trail.


The meadow itself is a giant's paint-pot, with dabs of all hues lavishly scattered over it. At the upper end, the Blue Forget-me-not or Beggar's Ticks (Lappula diffusa), the Mountain Valerian (Valeriana sitchensis), and the blue of various Lupines (Lupinus) dominate the scene. But as we continue, we note splashes of various shades of red, the scarlet and yellow of the Columbine (Aquilegia formosa), the gaudy crimson of the Indian Paintbrushes (Casstilleja), and the rose-pink of the Lewis' Monkey-flower (Mimulus lewisii), which is just commencing to bloom. On the borders of the brook, itself, the pink spires of the peculiarly-shaped Elephants' Heads or Butterfly-tongues (Pedicularis greenlandica) mingle with the white clusters of the Alpine Smartweed (Polygonum bistortoides), while the White Violet (Viola blanda) and Alpine Buttercup (Ranunculua sp.) stud the green carpet of grass and sedges.

Several shrubs stand out conspicuously from the herbaceous plant. These include the Mountain Ash (Sorbus sitchensis), distinguished by its masses of white flowers borne in flat-topped clusters from the Red berried Elder (Sambucus racemosa), which bears its snowy flowers in cones. The Pine Manzanita (Arcostaphylos nevadensis) forms a mat in dry places, and is often supplemented by the Blue Huckleberry (Vaccinium membranaceum), and occasionally by the Matted Beard-tongue or Penstemon (Penstemon menziessi var. davidsonii).

alpine shooting-star

Less conspicuous but attractive flowers are the blue Alpine Speedwell flowers, the Shooting-start (Dodecatheoum alpinum), and two species of orchids -- the Slender Bog-orchid (Limnorchis stricta) and the Boreal Bog-orchid (Limnorchis dilatata). The large green leaves of the Green Hellebore (Veratrum viride), and the young shoots of the Monkshood (Aconitum columbianum) and the Ragweed (Senecio triangularis) make up an important element of the herbage, but as yet are contributing few flowers.

We cross the bridge and again emerge upon the plain, where we are greeted by the Alpine Puss-paws (Spraguea umbellata), the False Alpine Dandelion (Agoseris alpestris), the Water-leaf or Pygmy Phacelia (Phacelia heterophylla), the Newberry's Knotweed, which form the main cover. Patches of yellow or orange are formed by the Alpine Owl's Clover (Orthocarpus), and the yellow of the Sulfur Flower again makes it appearance.

Colorful as the meadows now are, they give promise of even greater beauty to be anticipated. Do not think you have "seen" the garden because you have followed the trail to its end once. At every return you will find it wearing a different aspect, for it is a changing pageant of color presenting a new blended mosaic as only nature can mix her color combinations.

More About Bugs
By Earl U. Homuth

In previous issues of Nature Notes appeared a series of articles dealing with the efforts toward control and eradication of the Mountain Pine Beetle (Dendroctonus monticolae, Hopk.) which had attacked and threatened to destroy the pine forests of Crater Lake National Park and the surrounding areas.

As mentioned in those articles, the beetle is destructive, due to the fact that the larvae feed upon the cambium or living layer of the tree, horizontally from chambers in which the eggs are laid by the adult.

The solar method of control consists of felling the infested trees, exposing them to the sun. A sun temperature of 85 degrees for a period of one hour serves to destroy the eggs, larvae, pupae and immature beetles in the tree. The trees are subsequently rolled half over, thus exposing all surfaces.

Control work for a season must be completed or terminated by July 1 since by that time adult beetles emerge from the trees and subsequent work would be useless. The work for this season covered the period from April 30 to June 30. Due to a mild winter and early spring, and with experience gained in previous years the work was more rapidly advanced.

The number of trees treated this year totaled 14,747 over an area of 16,500 acres. This gives an average of .893 trees per acre. In 1930 the average was 2.2 and in 1929 it was 4.4 trees per acre.

When figures, covering the work of the past three seasons, are studied, they prove enlightening.

In areas completely treated in 1929, the average decrease of infestation in 1930 was 74 percent. The average decrease in 1931, over 86.1 percent.

In units incompletely treated the infestation showed an increase, in one instance, of 59.5 percent in one year and in another instance 82.8 percent in one year.

Observations in areas not treated indicate that the increase may run from 50 to 200 percent.

It may be concluded from the complete figures on file that partial or incomplete treatment is useless and that treating in areas subject to reinfestation is also unsatisfactory. Only complete treatment of all affected areas in one season will produce the desired results.

It may also be concluded that although the work has not been a complete success, yet, had nothing been done, the pine forests of the southern part of the park would present the same appearance of a "ghost forest" as is found upon 33,000 acres in the northern portion.

It is also obvious that the present incomplete treating will eventually eliminate all pine stands by cutting.

In conclusion it may be mentioned that the solar method of control was developed in Crater Lake National Park and that progress and results indicate that the method is successful, provided the treatment of all infested areas is thorough and complete.

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