Farewell-to-spring (Clarkia amoena)

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Clarkia amoena (Photo by Deb Hanson 2017)

Farewell-to-spring (Clarkia amoena) is a melancholy name for this perky, pink native Oregon wildflower. I saw them recently on a hike to Dog Mountain in the Columbia River Gorge. They were scattered along the lower elevations of both the Dog Mountain and the Augspuger Trails. I noticed they were especially abundant on patches of dry, rock-strewn slopes among patches of dead grass.

The bright pink spots in the center of each petal is what caught my attention. The flowers can range from pale pink to deep wine red in color, but always have a patch of darker pink on each of the four petals. The flowers are generally single, and less than 1-1/2 inches wide. The stems are gray-green and slender with slim, lanceolate leaves. Eight stamens curl up around the single pistil in the flower’s center. The plants I saw were about a foot tall.

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Farewell-to-spring (Photo by Deb Hanson 2017)

This flower’s genus name (Clarkia) comes from Captain William Clark (of Lewis & Clark). It’s species name (amoena) means charming or pleasing. Certainly, it is. Other common names are herald of summer or summer’s darling, which surely describes the time of year you are likely to see it in bloom.

The flowers serve as a source of nectar for important polinators such as honeybees, mason bees, bumblebees, butterflies, and other benficial insects. I saw many small insects and bees among them at Dog Mountain.

 

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