Camas Prairies and Sagebrush Ridges

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Late April and early May are prime time to view Camas (Cammasia quamash) prairies in western Washington. I visited two of them last week. These prairies were a lush contrast to the open sagebrush-studded area where I’d photographed just a few days earlier in central Washington. Follow the links to see galleries of images from all three places.

Camas Prairie
Lacamas Lake Park in Clark County was a new area to me, with several modest size Camas prairies, most ringed by Garry Oaks (Quercus garryana). I also came across a plant combination I’d never seen before — Oregon Fawn Lilies growing with Camas.

Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve, in Thurston County just south of Olympia, is one of the few remaining remnants of mounded prairie in the South Puget Sound area. There’s a paved interpretive trail, as well as two longer loops among the mounds. In addition to Camas, I saw Western Buttercups, Spring Gold, Serviceberry, Kinnickinick, and Early Blue Violets among the grasses. It was a dark and windy afternoon, with rain threatening so I didn’t spend as much time as I might have under more pleasurable weather conditions.

Rosy Balsamroot with HikerThe third wildflower area I visited and photographed was Badger Mountain, just south of the Tri-Cities in the Columbia Basin. I led a wildflower photography workshop in the area, and the photos I made were created in between working with my students. One of the participants had a 15mm fisheye lens which I borrowed. She had received it as a completely unexpected present. A lens that wide creates some rather interesting challenges, including keeping one’s feet out of the frame.

Among the flowers on Badger were the Columbia Basin endemic Piper’s Desert Daisy (Erigeron piperianus), which was in prime bloom but that I didn’t photograph. There were also masses of Cushion Fleabane (Erigeron poliospermus var. poliospermus) and Bingen Lupines (Lupinus bingenensis var. subsaccatus). At lower elevations Longleaf Phlox (Phlox longiflora) was mixed among the sagebrush. The lithosol held some Rosy Balsamroot (Balsamorhiza rosea), another Columbia Basin endemic found only on a few ridges surrounding the Tri-Cities.

When I’m teaching a field workshop I don’t expect to do much photography myself, preferring to work with each of my students to answer their questions and help them improve their photography.

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