[Wildflower Bloom in the Columbia River Gorge of Oregon and Washington: 2011]

Wildflower Bloom in Dillacort Canyon

Klickitat River Drainage

T3N R13E S17 & 18

March 12, 2011

A view east up Dillacort Canyon.

A view east up Dillacort Canyon. The slopes of the canyon here range from 30-40 degrees. The south and west-facing slopes tend to be grasslands with numerous desert parsleys and wildflowers while those that are north-facing tend to be covered with forest, either dominated by douglas fir or by Oregon white oak. The steep slope at the center of the photo is the west rim of High Praire, seen more fully in the photo at the bottom of this page..............March 12, 2011.

Dillacort Canyon is a large canyon that descends from the northern slopes of Stacker Butte (Columbia Hills), generally trending northwestward until the last mile or two where it flows mostly westward. The section hiked was the lower portion which enters the Klickitat River from the east about 6 miles north of Lyle, WA. Access is from a gravel pullout on the east side of Washington Highway 142 at the mouth of Dillacort Canyon. The lower two miles of the Canyon are mostly on Columbia Land Trust, Klickitat Wildlife Area and Department of Natural Resources (Southeast Region) lands. Signs at the trailhead request hikers to obtain written permission to enter the Columbia Land Trust property along the east side of the highway (See the link above.). It probably doesn't hurt to contact the other two land managers if you plan to hike here.

The north-facing slopes on the south side of the canyon are largely coniferous. The south-facing slopes of the canyon are largely open with occasional Oregon white oak forests. Quite a bit of poison oak can be found under the oaks as well as out in the open, so caution should be exercised especially when trying navigate through the patches of woods. The canyon slopes are very steep (30-40 degrees) with poor footing. The soil is mostly clay with some patches of basalt talus. Once dried, the clay soil will be difficult to walk on when traversing the steep side slopes. The area that this hiker covered appeared to be fairly natural with only some evidence of cattle grazing during the past one or two seasons. Views are southwest down the Klickitat River, north along the Klickitat River and south from the highest slopes towards Stacker Butte. Because it was cloudy, it is currently unknown if there is a view towards Mt. Adams. The view east is dominated by the western rim of High Prairie.

* Indicates the wildflower is currently in bloom.

Ponderosa Pine: Pinus ponderosa var. ponderosa

Douglas Fir: Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii

Alder: Alnus sp.

California Hazelnut: Corylus cornuta var. californica

Oregon White Oak: Quercus garryana

Cliff Fern: Woodsia sp. ?

Elk Sedge: Carex geyeri

* Common Woodrush: Luzula multiflora (L. campestris v. congesta)

Cheatgrass: Bromus tectorum

Bristly Dog's-tail Grass: Cynosurus echinata

Medusa-head: Taenitherum caput-medusae

Taper-tip Onion: Allium acuminatum - ? Basal leaves only.

Sagebrush Mariposa: Calochortus macrocarpus var. macrocarpus - Basal leaves only.

Ball-head Cluster Lily: Dichelostemma congestum (formerly Brodiaea congesta) - Basal leaves only.

* Yellow Bells: Fritillaria pudica

Panicle Deathcamas: Toxicoscordion paniculatum

* Grass Widows: Olsynium douglasii var. douglasii

Heart-leaf Buckwheat: Eriogonum compositum var. compositum

Upland Larkspur: Delphinium nuttallianum (var. nuttallianum?)

* Western Buttercup: Ranunculus occidentalis

Shining Oregon Grape: Berberis aquifolium

* Oaks Toothwort: Cardamine nuttallii (formerly Cardamine pulcherrima var. pulcherrima)

* Spring Whitlow-grass: Draba verna

* Smooth Praire Star: Lithophragma glabrum

Peak Saxifrage: Saxifraga nidifica var. claytoniifolia

Mock Orange: Philadelphus lewisii

Woollypod Milkvetch: Astragalus purshii

Hood River Milkvetch: Astragalus hoodianus or Yakima Milkvetch: Astragalus reventiformis

Columbia Gorge Lupine: Lupinus sp. (latifolius X sericeus ?)

Filaree: Erodium cicutarium

Dove'sfoot Geranium: Geranium molle

Deerbrush: Ceanothus integerrimus

Poison Oak: Rhus diversiloba

Tall Annual Willowherb: Epilobium brachycarpum

Burr Chervil: Anthriscus caucalis

* Columbia Desert Parsley: Lomatium columbianum - A few plants beginning to bloom.

* Pungent Desert Parsley: Lomatium grayii

* Biscuitroot: Lomatium macrocarpum (yellow flowers) - Beginning to bloom.

Barestem Desert Parsley: Lomatium nudicaule

* Salt and Pepper: Lomatium piperi (with possibility some were L. gormanii)

Gairdner's Yampah: Perideridia gairdneri

Desert Shooting Star: Dodecatheon conjugens

Columbia Frasera: Frasera albicaulis var. columbiana

Ball-head Waterleaf: Hydrophyllum capitatum var. thompsonii

Fiddleneck: Amsinckia sp.

Popcornflower: Plagiobothrys sp.

Common Monkey Flower: Mimulus guttatus

Common Mullein: Verbascum thapsus

Bedstraw, Cleavers: Galium aparine

Yarrow: Achillea millefolium var. occidentalis

Spearleaf Agoseris: Agoseris retrorsa

* Low Pussytoes: Antennaria dimorpha - Beginning to bloom.

Northwest Balsamroot: Balsamorhiza deltoidea / careyana - A few with basal leaves emerging from the ground.

Chicory: Cichorum intybus

Wavyleaf Thistle: Cirsium undulatum

Bull Thistle: Cirsium vulgare

* Gold Stars: Crocidium multicaule

Hairy False Goldenaster: Heterotheca villosa (Synonym: Chrysopsis villosa)

False Agoseris, Prairie Dandylion: Nothocalais troximoides (Synonym: Microseris troximoides)

Western Groundsel: Senecio integerrimus (var. exaltatus or var. ochroleucus ?)

Animals Seen Along This Route:

California Ground Squirrel

Mule Deer - one herd of 4, another herd of 12

Bald Eagles - Adult and juvenile

Red-tailed Hawk



German Partridge ?

Common Mergansers - Flying back and forth up Dillacort Canyon to nests to feed young?


American Robins

Says Phoebes - numerous

Western Bluebirds - numerous

Black cricket

Lady bug

West-facing slopes which lead uphill to the west rim of High Prairie which is about 2 miles upstream from the mouth of Dillacort Canyon. Dillacort Canyon extends uphill towards Stacker Butte at the left edge of the photo. - A portion of an oak woodland about one and one-half miles upstream from the mouth of Dillacort Canyon.

The photo at left shows the west-facing slopes which lead uphill to the west rim of High Prairie. These slopes are about 2 miles upstream from the mouth of Dillacort Canyon. Dillacort Canyon extends uphill towards Stacker Butte at the left edge of the photo. The photo at right shows a portion of an oak woodland from near the location of the photo at left. The ground beneath the oak woodlands here are densely covered with poison oak. Many of the oaks appear to be of uniform age, with most being up to a foot in diameter at chest height. However, some of the isolated oaks here range from 2-3 feet in diameter at chest height................March 12, 2011.

Paul Slichter