Anne Elliott

Anne Elliott

Posted on 08/16/2016

Photo taken on August 13, 2016

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Indian Paintbrush
Anne Elliott
W of Calgary
Family: Orobanchaceae
flower is tiny
Genus: Castilleja Castil
13 August 2016
Canadian Rockies
Rocky Mountains
red coloured bracts

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Paintbrush - green flowers, red bracts

Paintbrush - green flowers, red bracts
Four evenings ago, on 12 August 2016, friend Dorothy phoned and asked if I'd like to go with them to Kananaskis for the day. A last minute decision - and of course I said yes! What a great day we had in the mountains, with perfect weather and so many mushrooms to keep all three of us happy.

When I think how many endless rainy days we have been having the last few weeks, we were so lucky that the sun shone, the temperature was pleasant, and a slight breeze kept comfort levels just right.

Our first brief stop was at a pond on the way to Bragg Creek, where a mutual friend had been seeing a Common Loon, but there was no sign of it when we were there.

From there, once we eventually reached the mountains, we stopped at a large pond to check for birds and kept our eyes open for any mushrooms. The ground seemed too dry here, for any fungus to be growing. However, we were treated to wonderful views of a beautiful Osprey perched on top of a tall coniferous tree further down the path. It flew to a few different trees and then finally made the plunge for a fish, with success. What a splash it made! Once caught, it flew out of sight - maybe it had a nest somewhere with young ones to feed. I only saw one fish in the beautiful, clear water - and it was a dead one. However, this pond is stocked with Rainbow Trout (last mention I read about was 800 fish on 30 May 2016). It is so important for people who are fishing there, to obey the rules - certain kinds of bait are not allowed and there is a limit for the number of fish a person can keep. Apparently, some people are ignoring these rules. I guess the rules don't apply to the Osprey : )

Our next stop was further into the mountains and we found that the ground was damper and more conducive to the growth of mushrooms. I suspect that after all the rain we've had this summer, one could find mushrooms growing anywhere now. We were certainly lucky at this location, finding various species. One of the highlights of the day for me was seeing one of my favourite fungi, Strawberries and Cream fungus / Hydnellum peckii - the one that produces small, ruby red droplets on the surface. The individuals we saw were not hugely photogenic, but wonderful to see, both at this location and our next stop, at Kananaskis Lakes.

Lunch was eaten at a convenient picnic table right by a large creek after this first walk. While we were sitting there, a cute little Chipmunk (Least Chipmunk?) stopped long enough to take a quick peek at us through the tall grass blades. I suspect it thought it was well hidden. Couldn't resist taking a quick shot of this Paintbrush flower nearby - always a welcome splash of colour.

"Castilleja, commonly known as Indian paintbrush or prairie-fire, is a genus of about 200 species of annual and perennial herbaceous plants native to the west of the Americas from Alaska south to the Andes, northern Asia, and one species as far west as the Kola Peninsula in northwestern Russia. These plants are classified in the broomrape family, Orobanchaceae (following major rearrangements of the order Lamiales starting around 2001; sources which do not follow these reclassifications may place them in the Scrophulariaceae). They are hemiparasitic on the roots of grasses and forbs. The generic name honors Spanish botanist Domingo Castillejo." From Wikipedia.

After our lunch, we drove to Kananaskis Lakes and went for a most enjoyable hike - a very slow one, as there were mushrooms everywhere! We had been along this trail in previous years and had found a good variety of fungi. There were so many people on the trail! Good to see everyone out enjoying the good weather, fresh mountain air, and beautiful scenery. My friends returned to this trail a day or two later to see if there were any new mushrooms but, instead, found that there were about 2/3 less than on 13 August. Very disappointing.

Thanks so much, Dorothy and Stephen, not just for this great day out, but for also helping to make my wait for my new car to arrive, easier! Greatly appreciated.