Anne Elliott

Anne Elliott

Posted on 08/17/2016

Photo taken on July 30, 2016

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Anne Elliott
NE of Calgary
Orthocarpus luteus
Yellow Owl's-clover
east central Alberta
near Hanna
Antelope Hill Provincial Park
not yet open to the public
Gottlob Schmidt
roughly 2 & three-quarter hours' drive
30 July 2016

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Yellow Owl's-clover / Orthocarpus luteus

Yellow Owl's-clover / Orthocarpus luteus
Many thanks for the following information received from Mark Egger, on 16 June 2013: It was in response to a description I had added from the Internet to one of my Owl's-clover images. I'm pretty sure that the plant in this photo is Orthocarpus Luteus.

"Anne, your source of information about Orthocarpus species is out of date/incorrect on some points. There are only nine species (and several additional subspecies) of true Orthocarpus, and they are all native to western North America. This one, Orthocarpus luteus, has by far the largest range, extending far to the north and east of the others. The other species were moved to either Castilleja or Triphysaria back in the early 1990's, and this split has since been verified by extensive DNA studies. I'm very surprised that still has such outdated information... Here is a link to my Collection, with sets for each or the true Orthocarpus species and subspecies:"

The above photo was taken on 30 July 2016, when a few of us visited Antelope Hill Provincial Park. It was far too windy to take decent flower photos, the shorter plants were all growing in a tangle of tall grasses and the mosquitoes were absolutely unbearable - and they love me. I read recently that their favouriite blood type is Negative O - and guess what!

Generosity comes in all shapes and sizes. On 30 July 2016, six of us from Calgary had the honour of meeting a 92-year-old gentleman who has lived most of his long life on a huge area (380 hectares, 939 acres) of beautiful land near Hanna, in east central Alberta. Though Gottlob Schmidt (known as Schmitty) has now moved into town (Hanna), he is not far from his beloved land and still loves to spend a lot of his time there. My friends and I understand why. This untouched land is not only beautiful to the eye, with its undulating hills with small, scattered pockets of Aspen woodland, but it also hides all sorts of natural treasures, including the wildlife that enjoys this native grassland. There are so few areas of native grassland left in Alberta, so each one is very precious. Schmitty told us that he has never seen his land looking so green! Perhaps not too surprising, as we have had so much rain the last few weeks, usually accompanied by thunderstorms and sometimes hail. In fact, the rain started on our return journey to Calgary and I was driving from our meeting place back to my house in torrential rain. I found a good scattering of small hailstones covering my lawn, too.

This is where the word 'generosity' comes in. Two years ago, Schmitty donated all his land to Alberta Parks, along with certain strict regulations (listed on a link below) on how the land was to be used, such as no hunting, no camping, no motorized vehicles. He was very warmly recognized for his extreme generosity. The Park is known as Antelope Hill Provincial Park and, when Schmitty is no longer able to visit and enjoy his old, family homestead, the Park will be opened to the public. For now, it remains his own, private property.

The highlight for us was meeting Schmitty himself. I can only hope that I might be lucky enough to be in half his shape if I ever reached that age! It was an absolute delight to spend a little time with this man with the big heart, when we first arrived and again later in the day, when it was time for us to head back to Calgary. We also got to meet Schmitty's good neighbours, Donna and Ken.

My friends (specialists in mosses, lichens and liverworts and other things) and I, were given permission to spend the day there, to list all our findings. One of the first things that caught their eye was an old fence that was covered in lichens. Our time was spent climbing one main hill and walking part way around it, calling in at several of the small areas of Aspen woodland. This is where we saw a lovely display of Amanita muscaria / Fly agaric mushrooms, hidden amongst the trees. These were the other highlight for me! It is quite rare that we come across one of these Amanita Muscaria mushrooms, and it is so exciting and such a treat when we do! Of course, it's just a "fungi nut" talking, ha. They are so attractive, especially at the earlier stage when the cap is like a round ball, covered in white flecks, but also poisonous! Since then, I have seen quite a few more, at Rod Handfield's property, SW of Calgary.

Various plants were good to see, too, including Yellow Owl's-clover, about four Prairie Crocuses that were still in bloom. I hadn't seen Skeletonweed for a long time, but there were quite a few small clusters of it. A new plant to me was a tall one with white flowers - the drought-resistant, fragrant White Evening Primrose. The occasional gorgeous wild Rose made a lovelyt splash of colour, too.

Of course, for me, any visit to a ranch would not be complete without wandering by any old barn/shed/cabin. Another find was a beautiful, old, glass doorknob on one of the sheds.

On our return walk back to the cars, I suddenly spotted a huge, green caterpillar on the trail. A Tomato hornworm. It had been years since I saw any kind of huge, green larva and, though not my favourite things, I was glad to get a photo of it.

After a few hours of exploration, the only things that we were so happy and relieved to leave behind were the mosquitoes! Never had I seen so many of them - the air was filled with these tiny, blood-sucking insects that followed us every step of the way!

Thanks so much, Heide, for driving Sandy and myself all the way out there - about a two and three-quarter hour drive to get there. Much of the distance was on the same roads that I had driven the previous week with my daughter as navigator, but this was the first time I had ever been as far as Hanna and just beyond. Hanna now has a Tim Horton's, opened around three months ago : ) Thanks, Heide, too, for trying to find the old railway roundhouse - unfortunate that there was too much construction in the area, so one can't get to the roundhouse. And thank you so much, Peter, for arranging and organizing this wonderful trip! Most importantly of all, our thanks to Schmitty, who so kindly allowed us to share the special land that he has called home for so many decades. Our thanks for allowing us to spend the day there and, even more importantly, thank you for your great gift to all Albertans, with your incredibly generous donation of Antelope Hill Provincial Park.