Last week included a trip up Yellowjacket Road southwest of Pilot Rock. There were lots of wildflowers in bloom along the road banks from the time we reached the graveled portion until we reached the timber. So here are some of the best of the show, listed in the order they appeared, from the start of the gravel to the timber.
Tolmie’s onion (Allium tolmiei): This showy onion, about 6 inches tall, has a flattened, two-edged, erect stem, with long, flattened, linear, curling leaves that start withering when the flowers bloom. The clusters of flowers are often 3 inches across.
Serrate-edged balsamroot (Balsamorhiza serrata): The yellow sunflower-like flowers are the first thing you notice about this plant, followed by the dark green arrow-shaped leaves. The edges of the leaves are finely toothed, much like a steak knife, a characteristic that separates it from the several other balsamroot species.
Sulfur lupine (Lupinus sulphureus): The slopes that line Yellowjacket Road are covered every spring with large fields of this bush-like plant that is well over 18 inches high and wide. It has only begun to come into full bloom. In another week or two it will dominate those slopes with showy dull yellow flowers and a sweet aroma.
Yellowish paintbrush (Castilleja lutescens): The bright reddish-orange to yellow-orange leaves and sepals of this uncommon paintbrush are hard to spot in the grass. The plant is only abut 5 or 6 inches tall.
Blue Mountain milkvetch (Astragalus reventus): This is one of the larger and more impressive milkvetches out of the 43 species found in Northeast Oregon. It is fairly common in the upper elevations of the Blues, blooming from now into June. It is about a foot high, with long, narrow, finely divided leaves bearing 23-41 linear leaflets. It is along the bank just before entering the timber.
We also saw common death camas and mats of phlox, and in the timber were bright yellow dog-toothed lilies, and blue-eyed grass.