Oregon Pioneer Botanist Identifies 3,150 Western Species

Jan 14, 2014

Perhaps Rugged Eight Dollar Mountain in southwestern Josephine County, Ore., was named by a miner who found a large gold nugget or by a man said to have worn out an eight-dollar pair of shoes climbing the mountain.  For certain, a Rogue River Indian War battle was fought in the area on March 25, 1856.

Mining scars are still visible in the serpentine soil, as are several unusual or rare plants, among them   Darlingtonia and Howell’s Mariposa Lily. The lily bears the name of an Oregon pioneer botanist, Thomas Jefferson Howell. Though poor and barely literate, he studied and identified 3,150 plant species, of which 89 were new. Howell described them in his book titled A Flora of Northwest America, self-published in seven parts between 1897 and 1903.Today, a car-accessible T. J. Howell Botanical Trail extends along the Illinois River toward the Kalmiopsis Wilderness.  From Hwy. 199 motorists turn west 3.5 miles south of Selma.  One mile in, a parking area is on the left and a short interpretive boardwalk is on the right. The 7 ½-mile motorist drive begins at that point with interpretive signs to read along the way.  Foot trails branch off the main road. 

Sources: McArthur and Lewis L., Lewis A. Oregon Geographic Names. 7th ed. Portland, Ore.: Oregon Historical Society Press, 2003.  "Featured Hike: Little Falls." KS Wild NewsThe Journal of the Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center (2013): 12. Web. 15 Dec. 2013.