Wet winters set the stage for colorful springs and — thanks to people like you — Conservancy preserves protect some of Oregon’s most stunning wildflower displays. Here’s a sampling of what you can see while hiking four sites around the state:
Named for the purple, common camas lilies that profusely bloom here each April and early May, this urban gem near Portland is the Conservancy’s first-ever Oregon preserve. You won’t wonder why as you walk amongst the more than 300 plant species that thrive here.
While strolling via trail and a new boardwalk (wear boots, as mud can be slippery!), you’ll enjoy rosy plectritus, large-flowered blue-eyed Mary, harvest brodiaea, fawn lily, fool’s onion, two types of trillium and much more. Sunny meadows offer the best displays, with bright petals against moss-covered basalt rocks. But the wooded loop trail is short enough that, once inside, we’re sure you’ll want to explore the whole place.
Wildflower season starts early at these ancient landmarks near Medford, and the unique habitats of each bring varying blooms. You can see grass widows reaching toward the sun as early as February, with California goldfields close behind.
The action kicks into high gear in April, with Henderson’s fawn lilies, red bells and shooting stars on the lower slopes of both rocks. You’ll also see large-flowered blue-eyed Mary and and — if you look closely atop the summits, where the dried out seasonal ponds dip the landscape — tiny white blossoms of the dwarf wooly meadowfoam, an endangered plant found here and nowhere else on Earth. Harvest brodiaea close the show each May.
In late February, the first grass widows kick off an impressive season at this magnificent plateau overlooking the Columbia River Gorge. Along the lower trail, a rainbow-colored mix of yellow bells, prairie stars, smallflower lupine, Carey’s balsamroot, fringecups, shooting stars and more follows in April and May.
The preserve is home to three plants found only in the Columbia River Gorge: Thompson’s broadleaf lupine, Hood River milkvetch and Columbia Gorge desert parsley. But they can be hard to spot. Your chances are best for the desert parsley, which resembles broccoli with tiny purple flowers. It can be seen along the upper trail to McCall Point, which opens in April.
It’s famous for its bunch grass and the wildlife it supports, but did you know this Northeast Oregon nature sanctuary is home to a more than 300 wildflowers, too? True story. This species list and blooming calendar prove it.
Wildflower season stretches into summer on the Zumwalt. Some species show up as early as April, but odds are bettered in mid-May for rolling hills awash with prairie smoke, common camas, balsamroot, desert parsley and more. June and July bring another spectacular round with elkweed, sticky purple geranium, and various lupine and cinquefoil making appearances.
There are three public trails on the preserve, but the best one for wildflowers is the Horned Lark. The junction between Duckett and Camp Creek roads is also a great spot. Download a preserve map and driving directions to plan your wildflower visit today!July 18, 2012