I made time last week to venture up to Colockum Pass above Wenatchee. There is a rough road leading to this area at the far eastern end of the Wenatchee Mountains, dividing the Wenatchee and Kittitas Valleys, and offering spectacular views over the Waterville Plateau, the Columbia River, the western Columbia Basin, and more. With its elevation (over 5300′ at the pass) it is a trip back in time, at least into spring wildflowers. It is also an area with some uncommon and special plants, and lithosol and shrub-steppe habitat at high elevation. Here are six flowers to test your knowledge:
Hint: An annual only 2-5″ tall, found in profusion in low, seasonally wet depressions
Hint: The plants of this genus are mostly partially parasitic on other plants; this species is associated with sagebrush
Hint: Only 1-4″ tall and often hidden by other plants growing over it in wet areas in the shrub-steppe or eastside forest, and a member of the Waterleaf family
Hint: Perhaps the largest flower head of any member of this genus, at least in Washington; this is the only area I’ve seen it in Chelan County. For 1990’s rock music fans, the common name refers to ” ____ Todd and the Monsters”.
Hint: Coming around a corner and out of the woods I saw a meadow filled with this lovely blue flower, a lily that has been and is still dug for its tasty bulbs.
Hint: This one really surprised me, as this member of the Lily family is an early spring wildflower; at 5300′ I guess it may be still early spring!
1. Obscure evening primrose (Camissonia andina)
2. Thompson’s Indian paintbrush (Castilleja thompsonii)
3. Dwarf hesperochiron, or dwarf monkey-fiddle (nice!) (Hesperochiron pumilus)
4. Bighead clover (Trifolium macrocephalum)
5. Common camas (Camassia quamash)
6. Douglas’ grass-widow (Olsynium douglasii)