Illinois River Hike

While the weather is still mild, J and I have unertaken to do as much hiking as possible. This weekend we stumbled upon a new trail in the Illinois Valley, which brought us down through a mixture of pine, manzanita, and Oregon myrtle to the rocky banks of the Illinois River.

A wide variety of wildflowers were in evidence, despite this year’s dry weather.

Many of the manzanitas showed signs of damage on their new growth. Preliminary research suggested that it might be the aftermath of manzanita leaf gall aphid (Tamalia coweni). I submitted a question to the Oregon State University Extension Service Ask an Expert site for a more conclusive diagnosis.

Pine trunks blackened by wildfire
In this harsh climate, a pine seedling benefits from the shade cast by a manzanita.
Tiny seedlings emerge in the wake of a minor avalanche.
Oak tree galls

16 thoughts on “Illinois River Hike

  1. Dry here in WI as well, though my rain barrel would have you believe otherwise. I am jealous of your earlier spring. None of my violets are emerging yet, but soon! This year I have ordered quite a few new native plants for my garden, which is a vegetable garden with native plantings around the edges, paying ttention to what is needed for bees and butterflies. So many fun plants! I could watch the insects for hours, and do!

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      • I am adding two more varieties of milkweed (whorled and standard regular type to add to the butterfly weed orange variety), Purple prairie clover, which is especially good for an endangered bumblebee in this area, Cardinal flower, just because it is bright red and awesome to look at, blue vervain, and prairie dropseed. Prairie dropseed is one of my favorite native grasses. In part because it is not quite so tall as some of the tallgrass prairie grasses, so it fits into my space better. But your picture of shooting star had me wishing I had ordered that one too – I need to make sure I have a good place for it before I commit. If I had my way, I would tear up the entire backyard and plant a microprairie!

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      • I forgot to mention Prairie Smoke, geum triflorum. It is a cute short pink flowered plant with seed heads that look like pink smoke. My husband is a midwest boy who loves the idea of a pristine lawn, so we make concessions, but I continue to encroach. My feeling is that OK, you have a front lawn, that kind of goes with the 1960s ranch house. You might want to leave some lawn in the back for kids to play, except that we never had children and only one of two cats likes to go out and sit in the sun with me, so we do not need too much lawn in back. What are you growing in your yard?

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      • My interest in gardening with native plants has been on the rise since we moved here. In particular, I am enjoying manzanitas and ceanothus at the moment. I am also growing red flowering currant, oceanspray, toyon, Carpenteria californica, ninebark, Nootka rose, Mantilija poppy, vine maples, and many others.

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      • Nice! Ninebark is native here also – it is on my list for if the lilacs that came with the house don’t make it. There were five “Beauty of Moscow”, and a space where one had died previously. One died and I replaced it with elderberry. Two of the remaining four are not doing so well. I do not have any ceanothus, but the white flowered New Jersey Tea is native here. We had currants in my community garden when I still lived in Seattle. I do miss manzanita. I loved to stroke the smooth red bark. Guess I will have to plan some hiking next October when I make my annual pilgrimage to San Diego. Here I visit a local prairie restoration and enjoy watching the changes from spring to summer to fall. One plant I love is cup plant, it grows so tall, and holds water in the leaf attachments perfect for birds and insects.

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    • That’s too bad about the manzanitas. I have found them pretty carefree here. Next I want to try growing some from seed, but have been avoiding looking into it because I’m anxious that pretreatment with smoke or some other intimidating measure will be required to get the seed to germinate.

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      • The native plant nursery I bought mine from only gives buyers a 50% chance of survival. 😐 I think they collect small plants from the forest.


  2. I love manzanita, but it is not native here. I lived in Southern California and it was among my favorite canyon plants. As a child, we were forbidden from playing in the canyon, so of course we always did, and when questioned about whether we had been in the canyon, we always denied it, but we came back smelling of sagebrush. were not so sly as we thought.

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      • Yes they are. Our house was perched on the edge of a canyonthat like so many in southern California became roadways, in this case, Montezuma road, which would lead to or from San Diego State University. We could make it to the bottom in under ten minutes, then prowl along the “stream” of road runoff. most of the canyon was lined with desert native plants, but up near the houses it had been replaced with iceplant. I have a secret love of iceplant, but it is actually not ideal for slope stabilization. Too shallow rooted and heavy with water. People hoped it would prevent fires from reaching their houses. Not sure if it really can work, certainly not as a long term solution.

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