[Wildflower Bloom in Central and Eastern Washington: 2013]

Wildflower Bloom in Central and Eastern Washington

Kamiak Butte

Whitman County Parks

April 29, 2013

View southeast from Kamiak Butte across the Palouse towards western Idaho.........April 29, 2013.

A view southeast across Palouse country towards western Idaho from near the summit ridge of Kamiak Butte, Whitman County Parks.........April 29, 2013. The deeper soiled areas of the south-facing slope support a good assortment of natural bunchgrasses and forbs although the season is still early and several weeks from peak bloom here.

View southwest from Kamiak Butte across the Palouse of eastern Washington........April 29, 2013. - View west across the south-facing ridgeline of Kamiak Butte in eastern Washington.......April 29, 2013.

The photo at left shows a view across the upper south-facing slopes of Kamiak Butte and westward across the Palouse of eastern Washington. The photo at right shows a view westward across the summit ridge of Kamiak Butte. The upper slopes of Kamiak Butte have shallower soils with outcrops of lichen encrusted quartzite. Conifers cover the north-facing slopes and young conifers are spilling down the south-facing slopes but are as yet uncommon. The upper half of the butte is fairly natural with only a few weedy species (bulbous bluegrass and several composites). Photos from April 29, 2013.

Kamiak Butte is a high, east-west trending ridge that stands above the loess-soiled farmland of eastern Washington and western Idaho. It is located east of Colfax, Washington and slightly southwest of Palouse, Washington. Its rocky high point is3641 feet which is about 1000 feet higher than the surrounding farmlands. It is an old mountain consisting of quartzite which was largely covered by Columbia basalts. During the Ice Age, fine soils were deposited at the fronts of the glaciers or deposited downstream along the Columbia and Snake Rivers. These fine soils or loess were lifted by the frequent winds and deposited over much of eastern Oregon and Washington and western Idaho. The depositions of loess are as much as 200 feet thick in eastern Washington, an area known as the Palouse.

The County Park allows camping, hiking and picnicking. There is no charge for day use, although a donation is requested. The gate closes at dusk so campers are restricted to the park overnight. There is a 3.5 mile loop trail which starts at the day use area on the forested north side of the park, with the eastern loop following an old access road while the well-maintained western loop climbs more steadily to the ridge top. The summit is more open with a mix of open forest and rocky meadows. The trail roughly follows the summit ridgeline and offers access to most of the wildflowers one will see. At the west end, there is a mix of private and county property so follow the directions of the numerous signs to limit wanderings onto private property. Elevation gain is about 900 feet. Allow 3-4 hours for a leisurely walk along this moderate hike.

* indicates the wildflower is currently blooming.

Weather: Temps high 30s to high 40s. Partly cloudy with fits of snow. Winds to 35 mph with gusts to 50 mph. Visibility to 5 miles due to blowing dust.

Complete plant list for Kamiack Butte. - To be placed online by mid-May. Updated in mid summer 2013?

Coniferous and Deciduous Trees:

Grand Fir: Abies grandis

Western Larch: Larix occidentalis

Ponderosa Pine: Pinus ponderosa ssp. scopulorum

Douglas Fir: Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca

Douglas' Maple: Acer glabrum var. douglasii

Lewis' Mock Orange: Philadelphus lewisii - Leafing out.

Quaking Aspen: Populus tremuloides - Leafing out.

Black Cottonwood: Populus trichocarpa - Leafing out.

* Scouler's Willow: Salix scouleriana ?


Horsehair Lichen: Bryoria sp. - Brown color

Pixie Cups: Cladonia sp.

Cowpie Lichen: Disploschistes muscorum

Antlered Perfume: Evernia prunastri ?

Tube Lichen: Hypogymnia sp.

Wolfsbane Lichen: Letharia vulpina

Pelt Lichen: Peltigera membranacea ?

Pelt Lichen: Peltigera sp. - Dark blue-green or dark gray upper surfaces. Large brown apothecia.

Lichen: Physcia sp. or Xanthoparmelia sp. ? - On shaded to parly-shaded rock surfaces.

Rimmed Navel Lichen: Rhizoplaca melanophthalma ?

Blistered Rock Tripe: Umbilicaria hyperborea ?

Navel Lichen: Umbilicaria phaea

Beard Lichen: Usnea sp.

Brown-eyed Sunshine Lichen: Vulpicida canadensis ?


Grimmia Moss: Grimmia sp.

Homalothecium Moss: Homalothecium sp.

Mnium Calcareous Moss: Mnium (insigne or spinulosum ?) or Plagiomnium sp. ?

Juniper Haircap Moss: Polytrichum juniperinum

Polytrichum Moss: Polytrichum pilferum

Electrified Cat's Tail Moss: Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus


Lacelip Fern: Cheilanthes gracillima

Fragile Fern: Cystopteris fragilis

Polypody Fern: Polypodium hesperium

Western Sword Fern: Polystichum munitum

Bracken Fern: Pteridium aquilinum ssp. pubescens

Oregon Cliff Fern: Woodsia oregana ssp. oregana

* Elk Sedge: Carex geyeri

Cheatgrass: Bromus tectorum

Bulbous Bluegrass: Poa bulbosa - In bud.

Nevada Bluegrass: Poa secunda ssp. juncifolia - In bud.

Bluebunch Wheatgrass: Pseudoroegnaria spicata

* Glacier Lily: Erythronium grandiflorum var. grandiflorum

* Yellow Bells: Fritillaria pudica - Fading out of bloom.

False Solomon's Seal: Maianthemum racemosum var. amplexicaule

Star-flowered False Solomon's Seal: Maianthemum stellatum

* Sierra Fairybells: Prosartes trachycarpum

* White Trillium: Trillium ovatum

Idaho Trillium: Trillium petiolatum - In bud.

California False Hellebore: Veratrum californicum

* Grass Widows: Olsynium douglasii var. inflatum

Rattlesnake Plantain: Goodyera oblongifolia

Elegant Rein Orchid: Piperia (elegans or unalascensis ?)

Parsnip-flowered Buckwheat: Eriogonum heracleoides (var. heracleoides ?) -

* Western Springbeauty: Claytonia lanceolata

* Streambank Miner's Lettuce: Claytonia parviflora ssp parviflora

* Miner's Lettuce: Claytonia perfoliata ssp. intermontana

* Red Miner's Lettuce: Claytonia rubra ssp. rubra

Dwarf Miner's Lettuce: Montia dichotoma - Past bloom.

Bigleaf Sandwort: Moehringia macrophylla

* Common Chickweed: Stellaria media

* Piper's Anemone: Anemone piperi

* Upland Larkspur: Delphinium nuttallianum var. nuttallianum

* Sagebrush Buttercup: Ranunculus glaberrimus var. ellipticus

* Sagebrush Buttercup: Ranunculus glaberrimus var. glaberrimus

Western Buttercup: Ranunculus occidentalis ?

Western Meadowrue: Thalictrum occidentale - In bud.

Creeping Oregon Grape: Berberis repens - In bud.

Wormleaf Stonecrop: Sedum stenopetalum

* Sicklepod Rockcress: Boechera sparsiflora ?

American Wintercress: Barbarea orthoceras

* Little Western Bittercress: Cardamine oligosperma

Scale Pod: Idahoa scapigera - Pods maturing.

Lava Alumroot: Heuchera cylindrica var. glabella

Gooseberry-leaved Alumroot: Heuchera grossulariifolia var. grossulariifolia ?

* Bulblet Prairie Star: Lithophragma bulbifera

* Small-flowered Prairie Star: Lithophragma parviflorum

* Peak Saxifrage: Saxifraga integrifolia var. leptopetala

* Cusick's Serviceberry: Amelanchier alnifolia var. cusickii

Douglas' Hawthorn: Crataegus douglasii var. douglasii - In bud.

* Broadpetal Strawberry: Fragaria virginiana ssp. platypetala - Beginning to bloom.

Large-leaf Avens: Geum macrophyllum var. macrophyllum

Large-leaved Avens: Geum macrophyllum var. perincisum

Creambush Oceanspray: Holodiscus discolor - Leafing out.

Mallow Ninebark: Physocarpus malvaceus - Leafing out.

Sticky Cinquefoil: Potentilla glandulosa (var. glandulosa ?)

Graceful Cinquefoil: Potentilla gracilis var. ?

Bitter Cherry: Prunus emarginata var. emarginata - In bud.

Chokecherry: Prunus virginiana var. melanocarpa - In bud.

Little Wild Rose: Rosa gymnocarpa - Leafing out.

Thimbleberry: Rubus parviflorus - Bare stems.

Birchleaf Spiraea: Spiraea betulifolia var. lucida - Leafing out.

Silky Lupine: Lupinus sericeus var. sericeus - Frost-damaged leaves emerging from the ground.

White Clover: Trifolium repens ?

Hairy Vetch: Vicia villosa

Fireweed: Chamerion angustifolium

Enchanter's Nightshade: Circaea alpina

Cow Parsnip: Heracleum lanatum

* Fernleaf Desert Parsley: Lomatium dissectum var. multifidum

* Pungent Desert Parsley: Lomatium grayi

* Large-fruited Desert Parsley: Lomatium macrocarpum - Cream-flowered variety.

* Nineleaf Desert Parsley: Lomatium triternatum var. triternatum

Common Sweet-cicely: Osmorhiza berteroi

Clustered Frasera: Frasera fastigiata - In bud.

* Cusick's Shooting Star: Dodecatheon cusickii

Skyrocket: Ipomopsis aggregata

* Midget Phlox: Microsteris gracilis

* Ballhead Waterleaf: Hydrophyllum capitatum var. capitatum

Common Hound's Tongue: Cynoglossum officinale

Puccoon: Lithospermum ruderale

* Small Bluebells: Mertensia longiflora

* Blue Forget-me-not: Myosotis micrantha - Beginning to bloom.

Common Veronica: Veronica officinalis ?

* Harsh Paintbrush: Castilleja hispida var. acuta

Stiff Yellow Indian Paintbrush: Castilleja lutescens ?

* Small-flowered Blue-eyed Mary: Collinsia parviflora

Foxglove: Digitalis purpurea

Sulphur Penstemon: Penstemon attenuatus var. attenuatus

* Mountain Kittentails: Synthyris missurica ssp. major

Cleavers: Galium aparine

Fragrant Bedstraw: Galium triflorum ?

Twinflower: Linnaea borealis var. longiflora

Common Snowberry: Symphoricarpos albus var. laevigatus - Leafing out.

Yarrow: Achillea millefolium

Pathfinder: Adenocaulon bicolor

Woodrush Pussytoes: Antennaria luzuloides - In bud.

Raceme Pussytoes: Antennaria racemosa

Heart-leaf Arnica: Arnica cordifolia - In bud.

* Arrowleaf Balsamroot: Balsamorhiza sagittata - Beginning to bloom but showing signs of frost damage.

Bull Thistle: Cirsium vulgare

Rocky Mountain Sunflower: Helianthella uniflora var. douglasii

Western Hawkweed: Hieracium scouleri var. albertinum

Small Tarweed: Madia exigua

Large-flowered Goldenweed: Pyrrocoma carthamoides var. carthamoides

Western Groundsel: Senecio integerrimus var. exaltatus - In bud. Evidently var. ochroleucus is also present here.

* Common Dandelion: Taraxacum officinale

Northern Mule's Ears: Wyethia amplexicaulis - Basal leaves.

Animals Seen Along This Trail:

Least Chipmunk ?

Yellow-bellied Marmot

Elk - Heard and plenty of droppings on the ground


Townsend's Solitaire

Dark-eyed Juncos

Ruby-crowned Kinglets

Chickadees - Heard, not seen.

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Cascade Tree Frog

Green Stink Bug

Paul Slichter