Douglas’ Grasswidow

Olsynium douglasii is a flowering plant, commonly known as grasswidows.  It is the only species in the genus Olsynium in North America, the remaining 11 species being from South America.  These grasswidows were found next to a basalt wall in the Tom McCall Preserve in Oregon. (Philip A. Knouf)

Olsynium douglasii is a flowering plant, commonly known as grasswidows. It is the only species in the genus Olsynium in North America, the remaining 11 species being from South America. These grasswidows were found next to a basalt wall in the Tom McCall Preserve in Oregon. (Philip A. Knouf)

In late March of 2012, I traveled from my home in the metro Portland area to the eastern end of the Columbia River Gorge to photograph the Grasswidow flower.  One of my favorite locations for wildflowers is the Nature Conservancy’s Tom McCall Preserve at Rowena .  This 271 acre preserve has a diverse offering of wildflowers from February into the early summer months.  The location is in the transition zone from the moist rainforest climate of the western slopes and crest of the Cascade mountains and the rain shadow influenced arid central Oregon region.  The Douglas’ Grasswidow pictured here are on a rock ledge of Columbia River Flood Basalt.  These basalt rocks date to between 17 and 6 million years ago during late Miocene and early Pliocene times.  These basaltic lava flows are among the largest lava floods to appear on the earths surface.  It has been estimated that about 63,000 square miles of the Pacific Northwest were engulfed by these flows.

The Douglas Grasswidow is a quite small and delicate flower that blooms early in isolated clusters and also in large groups of thousands.  High on the plateau of Rowena are a few of the larger clusters.  The mass of purple Grasswidows is quite spectacular.

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Reply