Two Outstanding Natural Places on the Oregon Coast Linda R McMahan, Ph.D. Botanist and Horticulturist Oregon State University Extension Service Munson CreekFalls State Park Clay Meyers State Natural Area at Whalen Island
Munson Creek Falls State Park, near Tillamook, Oregon Plants are my passion so I took advantage of a short vacation to visit these areas. If you share the love of plants and get to the Oregon Coast, consider visiting these two special places Salmonberry (Rubusspectabilis)
Photo near the falls viewing platform Only one other visitor was at the park during the visit—a secluded and beautiful experience. The site is an important one for spawning salmon.
Falls from the viewing platform I went to see the falls but was delighted by the wildflowers and luscious plant growth. The falls are the tallest in the Coast Range at 319 feet!
An Oregon native corydalis (Corydalis scouleri) This water loving plant grows right along the short path to the falls, blooming in June. In a garden, any corydalis will need extra moisture to thrive.
Corydalis scouleri The road to the falls is a little challenging and not for RV’s but cars are OK. The corydalis lines much of the creek.
Lush vegetation abounds The trail is gentle, good for those who prefer a short hike
Moss and lichens seem to drip off the trees, fed by the moisture Big leaf maple, Acer macrophyllum, in this temperate rainforest setting
Yellow monkey-flower, Mimulusguttatus Yellow monkey-flower thrives in the moisture provided by high rainfall and mist from the fast-moving creek
Lady fern, Athyriumfelix-femina Water-loving and deciduous-- early spring shows off unfurling fronds—can get 6-8 feet high in favorable conditions
Piggy-back plant, Tolmiea menziesii Another moisture-loving Pacific Northwest native, also valued as a houseplant in hanging baskets!
Corydalis foliage and sword fern, Polystichummunitum Unfurling foliage on ferns is a sign of spring in the Pacific Northwest
Clay Meyers Natural Area at Whalen Island A coalition of county, state and private funds created this new natural area, just off Hwy 101 near Hebo, Oregon. Included is this near-pristine salt-water wetland. Lillian Parker Craft Wetland
Secluded sand forest with native rhododendron Western rhododendron, Rhododendron macrophyllum, is one of only 3 native rhododendrons in Oregon. This large species grows in coastal areas and the Cascade Mountains
Rhododendron flowers in full bloom in early June 2011 Larger rhododendron flowers are shown with smaller bell-shaped flowers of evergreen huckleberry, Vaccinium ovatum. Such a beautiful sight!
Evergreen huckleberry New foliage for this fine native evergreen shrub is reddish. It is one of our best for ornamental use and often available in nurseries specializing in native plants.
Part of the trail follows the sinuous forms of sand lakes The Pacific Ocean is visible as a thin blue line in the upper left of the photograph
The natural area plant communities grow on nearly pure sand. The area supports ground lichens, shore pine, Pinus contorta, and other species The green patch on the ground is a kind of lichen. It is easily disturbed by footprints—it looks like visitors are being careful and staying on the trail.
Tiny young female cones of shore pine are open for pollination The cones will take more than a year to produce and release seeds. This photo is in June, and the seeds will be mature in September of the following year.
Trees have their own rich lichen communities Look carefully and you can see three different kinds of lichens, two are whitish and one is orange
Parasitic on roots of pine, these tiny plants called “pinesap” emerge above ground to flower and reproduce each year Pinesap and similar plants can be important food sources for wild animals and insects, part of the complex forest ecosystem
Pacific myrtle, Myricacalifornica, Myrtle, known for the beautiful bowls and other carvings made from the wood, is also found in the dunes community and makes a fine evergreen ornamental shrub or small tree
Kinnickinnick, Arctostaphylos uva-ursi Kinnickinnick forms a groundcover in drier parts of the sand forest
False lily-of-the-valley, Maianthemumdilitatum Wetter sites support this moisture-loving groundcover
A wild rose signals the end of the trail Rosa species