Seasons of Herbert Farm Natural Area

By Anna Ramthun

September 2018

The Herbert Farm Natural Area is undeniably special.  Located just south of Corvallis, the area was an important gathering and foraging spot for local Native American tribes, and is still regarded as an important cultural area by the modern Confederated Tribes of the Grande Ronde. The Institute for Applied Ecology (IAE) is currently working with these tribes to increase the production of culturally significant food species, such as camas and yampa, on the site.

The site is also important ecologically, providing habitat for multiple rare, threatened, and endangered species, including Kincaid's lupine, Nelson's checkermallow, peacock larkspur, and thin-leaved peavine.  The threatened streaked horned lark has also been spotted on site, and efforts are underway to create nesting habitat for this species.

Herbert Farm is also a lesser known public park for the City of Corvallis. Since 2011, IAE has been working with the City of Corvallis and Trout Mountain Forestry to restore Herbert Farm to its original prairie and riparian ecosystems. It is also a great place to walk a dog (on leash and using bags to remove waste). Weekly dog walks on site have given me a unique opportunity to observe the progression of the plant community throughout the season.


During rainy times of year, the older, and more established areas of the prairie are cut off by flooding of Muddy Creek and Marys River on two sides and Matt Creek across the access road. The swales near the parking lot swell with water, and vernal pools fill in site's riparian boundaries.  This year, Matt Creek was flooded until the end of April.  Luckily, it drained early enough that I still got a view of the camas in bloom.

Tall camas (Camassia leichtlinii) in bloom at Herbert Farm

Camas is not the only showy, blue flower on the prairie. Menzie's larkspur (Delphinium menziesii) can be found along the edges of woody areas
While camas turns some of the fields blue, western buttercup (Ranunculus occidentalis) turns others yellow.


As the fields begin to dry, checkermallow emerges.

Rose checkermallow ( Sidalcea virgata) in bloom

Sunrise over Matt Creek

Cloudy evening over the western field


As May turns into June, peak bloom begins.

Wood lillies (Lilium columbianum) emerge in early May and late June.


In mid-June, tarweed (Madia glomerata) becomes a dominant species in the prairie.

Large-flowered (Collomia grandiflora) can form large patches in areas of the prairie that were previously wet.

Oregon Sunshine (Eriophyllum lanatum)

Tarweed (Madia elegans) at sunset.

Douglas spirea (Spiraea douglasii) adds a pop of color to riparian shrub plantings.


Farewell to spring (Clarkia amoena) takes over the fields in early July.

As July moves on, gumweed (Gindelia integrifolia) becomes increasingly visible in the prairie.

Dense spike-primrose (Epilobium densiflorum) is another late-July native.


Despite heat and drying soils, yampa (Perideridia gairdneri) begins to bloom in early August.

Cinqufoil (Potentilla gracilis) seed heads sway in the breeze.

Tarweed (Madia elegans) makes a reappearance early in August, much to the benefit of late season pollinators.

Large-flowered collomia (Collomia grandifolia) after going to seed.

Fireweed (Chamaenerion angustifolium) releases fluffy white seeds.

Last year's gumweed contrasts with this year's blooms.