Dandelion seedhead in the rain

Plants of Alberta 6


Found this little Shootingstar just off Elbow Falls Trail, at Maclean Pond, in Kananaskis, on 12 June 2014. They are such exquisite wildflowers! Unfortunately, a single flowerhead doesn't quite fit into a macro photo, but I have to balance that with being able to get a soft, blurred background. "The genus (Dodecatheon) is largely confined to North America and part of northeastern Siberia. Common names include shooting star, American cowslip, mosquito bills, mad violets, and sailor caps. A few species are grown in gardens for their showy and unique flower display. The stamens are thrust out with the sepals bent back. The flowers are pollinated by bees, which grab hold of the petals, and gather pollen by vibrating the flowers by buzzing their wings (buzz pollination). The vibration releases pollen from the anthers." From Wikipedia. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dodecatheon

A colourful rocky spot

A photo from my archives, that I am finally posting. I spent 31 May 2013, with a small group of friends, doing the May Species Count for the Whaleback. This location is about 170 km south of Calgary, down towards Pincher Creek. The South Whaleback is near Maycroft, just N of Oldman River, about 5 kms W from #22. I'm adding photos taken on that trip to a Set of photos that, up till recently, contained images taken on the Small Whaleback on 10 July 2011. On 31 May 2013, we covered the southern end of the Whaleback. Actually, I'm not sure exactly which is the Whaleback and which is the South Whaleback - confusing. The whole area is made up of endless hills and the Rocky Mountains are in the distance, quite close in this very southern part of Alberta. It rained or drizzled all day, so I had to battle water spots on the camera lens as well as low light and wind. The yellow Balsamroot, which we don't get further north, closer to Calgary, was just beautiful. I'm not sure what the plant in this photo is, but it looked so pretty surrounded by bright orange Lichen - Xanthoria, probably elegans. It was a good day, great company, a few interesting finds and glorious scenery to thoroughly enjoy. "More commonly known as the Whaleback, the Bob Creek Wildland and its sister area the Black Creek Heritage Rangeland protects Whaleback Ridge and one of Alberta’s most important elk winter ranges. A montane environment of Douglas Fir and rough fescue grasses, this area in southwest Alberta has sweeping vistas of the Livingstone Range hanging over the western boundary and the Castle Mountains to the south." www.crownofthecontinent.net/content/the-whaleback/cotCA82...

Wild Strawberry

A small Wild Strawberry flower, macro photographed at Maclean Pond, off Elbow Falls Trail (Highway 66), Kananaskis, on 12 June 2014. Also known as Virginia Strawberry, Common Strawberry, Smooth Wild Strawberry, and Strawberry. Latin synonyms - Fragaria glauca. These native flowers are 12-18mm across, in small clusters. "Wild Strawberries bloom from April to June. Flowers are 3/4 inch wide, with five white petals. The petals are attached to a cone-shaped part of the flower. This cone starts off yellow, then later becomes larger, thicker, and redder. This is the "strawberry" part of the Wild Strawberry plant, and it contains dry seeds." www.fcps.edu/islandcreekes/ecology/wild_strawberry.htm

Clusters of colour

Every now and then, we would come across a small cluster of these bright yellow flowers growing in Dinosaur Provincial Park. Our visit on Sunday, 22 June 2014, was bird-related rather than for botany, but I always love to see anything of any kind when I'm out on a walk. Photographed this cluster when we were in a part of the Park that is kept closed to the public and that you can only see when you go on one of the mini-bus tours.

Long-fruited Wild/White Prairie Parsley / Lomatium macrocarpum

The only known location where this rather inconspicuous, native plant, a member of the Carrot family, was growing wild in Calgary was Edworthy Park (Upper level). Recently, it has also been found growing along the path near the Pine Creek Water Treatment Plant in SE Calgary, where this photo was taken on 3 June 2014.

The beauty of an invasive weed

Some of you will be familiar with this rather beautiful flower and its silvery seedheads. Unfortunately, despite its beauty, it is an invasive species and widespread. This is one of three species of Clematis that occur in the wild in Alberta, the other two being the native Western Clematis and the Purple Clematis/Blue Clematis. This yellow species was introduced from Japan as an ornamental garden plant, but has now spread to natural areas where it chokes out and kills native plants, shrubs and trees. This particular flower was photographed at the Reader Rock Garden on 25 June 2014 - always surprises me that they haven't pulled this plant, though it doesn't appear to have spread at this location. Today, 1 July 2014, is Canada Day. We live in such a great and free country, which is something to be remembered and thankful for, each and every day! A special wish and thank-you for all those Canadians who are serving our country, especially overseas! This is Canada's 147th birthday - we are so young! "Canada Day (French: Fête du Canada) is the national day of Canada, a federal statutory holiday celebrating the anniversary of the July 1, 1867, enactment of the British North America Act, 1867 (today called the Constitution Act, 1867), which united three colonies into a single country called Canada within the British Empire. Originally called Dominion Day (French: Le Jour de la Confédération), the holiday was renamed in 1982, the year the Canada Act was passed. Canada Day observances take place throughout Canada as well as among Canadians internationally." From Wikipedia.

Showy lady's-slipper

Photographed this beautiful Pink or Showy lady's-slipper (Cypripedium reginae) yesterday, 2 July 2014, when I called in at the Reader Rock Garden on my way home from a volunteer shift. Unfortunately, this beautiful orchid is not native to Alberta. "The Showy Lady's-slipper (Cypripedium reginae), also known as the Pink-and-white Lady's-slipper or the Queen's Lady's-slipper, is a rare terrestrial temperate lady's-slipper orchid native to northern North America. Despite producing a large amount of seeds per seed pod, it reproduces largely by vegetative reproduction, and remains restricted to the North East region of the United States and south east regions of Canada. Although never common, this rare plant has vanished from much of its historical range due to habitat loss. It has been a subject of horticultural interest for many years with Charles Darwin who like many, were unsuccessful in cultivating the plant. The plant became the state flower of Minnesota in 1902 and was protected by state law in 1925. It is illegal to pick or uproot a Showy Lady's-slipper flower in Minnesota. Although this plant was chosen as the provincial flower for Prince Edward Island in 1947, it is so rare on the island that another Lady's-slipper, C. acaule (moccasin flower or pink lady slipper), has replaced it as the province's floral emblem." From Wikipedia. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cypripedium_reginae The famous, annual Calgary Stampede begins tomorrow, with the Stampede Parade taking place in the morning. William Shatner (from Star Trek) is our Parade Marshall. No worries about the weather, as it's a beautiful, sunny day today and tomorrow is supposed to be good, too.

Canada Violet

HAPPY 4th JULY to all Americans, whether at home or overseas! A small Canada Violet flower, macro photographed at Maclean Pond, off Elbow Falls Trail (Highway 66), Kananaskis, on 12 June 2014. When I did a search for this species on my photostream, nothing showed up. I'm surprised that it has taken me eight years to post a photo, ha. "Viola canadensis is more commonly known as Canadian white violet, Canada violet, tall white violet, or white violet. As its name suggests, it is a species of violet which bears white blooms. The flowers are white, with yellow bases and sometimes streaks of purple. The petals are purple tinged on the backside. The leaves are heart shaped, with coarse, rounded teeth. It is native to Canada and the eastern United States. It is threatened or endangered in some areas, and abundant in others." From Wikipedia. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viola_canadensis The famous, annual Calgary Stampede begins today, with the Stampede Parade taking place downtown this morning. William Shatner (from Star Trek) is our Parade Marshall. No worries about the weather, as it's a beautiful, sunny day today. Temperature is 21°C so far, so not unbearably hot for people who are lining the parade route or taking part in the parade. Yesterday afternoon, we got up to around 32°C, which was too hot for my liking.

Mother Nature at her best

The small flowers of One-flowered Wintergreen / Moneses uniflora tend to hang their heads, so it's more common to see the plain back side of the flower. You can gently tip the flower backwards to see the amazing flower centre, using a tiny twig so that the oils from your fingers don't attract some creature that will eat the flower head. Macro photo of this flower (and one tiny visitor) taken in the forest at Brown-Lowery Provincial Park, SW of Calgary, taken yesterday (5 July 2014). "This is a low, delicate, evergreen perennial from slender, creeping rhizomes; flowering stems simple; growing 3 - 10 cm tall, sometimes up to 15 cm. Flowers - single, nodding atop long, leafless stalk (with 1 or 2 small bracts); white, waxy, fragrant, 1 - 2.5 cm across; 5 spreading petals; 10 stamens; large, prominent, 5-lobed stigma; appearing in mid-summer." www.borealforest.org/herbs/herb25.htm "Moneses uniflora (One-flowered Wintergreen in Scotland and Canada); Single Delight; St. Olaf's Candlestick (Norway)) is a plant of the family of Ericaceae, that is indigenous to moist coniferous forests in temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere from Spain to Japan and across North America. It is the sole member of genus Moneses." From Wikipedia. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moneses At the last minute, I decided I would have to get out of the house yesterday. I just couldn't take being in an "oven" any more. Not complaining about the hot, sunny weather we are having at the moment, but my house turns into an oven and then tends to stay that way for many days or weeks afterwards. I had planned on leaving the house earlier than I did (10;00 a.m.) and drove NW of the city and NW of Cochrane. Hadn't been that way for a long time and wanted to see if I could find an owl of some sort, especially a Great Gray Owl. No luck, and in fact it seemed like all wildlife was in hiding, except for four Deer. My morning's finds included a patch of beautiful Indian Paintbrush flowers (deep pink, yellow, green and peach colours) Also a noisy little Wren that I saw when I pulled over to take a look down a hillside to see if I could see the Red Fox that had just run across the road ahead of me - no luck. The next sightings were a lone Deer - forgot to check its tail, but judging by the enormous size of its ears, it had to have been a Mule Deer - and a Tree Swallow that was perched on its bright orange nesting "box". I wonder who chose the colour of the box this year; he or his mate, lol. Nearby, there were several Swallowtail butterflies down in the mud along the edge of the road. Before I could get there, a car came along in the opposite direction and of flew every single one. By the time I had photographed a few wildflowers, one butterfly did return, so I was able to get a few shots. Deciding to return to Highway 1a the same way as I came, I passed a couple of horses that always seem to be in the same place. I'm never sure about the health of these two, and they never seem "happy" animals, though maybe they are just getting very old. When I reached the road I wanted to check out (including for a possible owl), I found that it had just been oiled ready for a new surface to be laid, so that plan went out the window. Wanting to stay away from my unpleasantly hot house for as long as possible, I came home via Bragg Creek and some of the backroads that I love, SW of the city. Brown-Lowery Provincial Park was my first stop - and it has the wonderful, added benefit of washrooms in the parking lot - the first ones I'd seen all day! I checked out the area near the parking lot and then went maybe a hundred feet into the forest. After checking for any fungi (none), I heard a very loud cracking of branches and eventually spotted a huge, very dark shape through the trees. From that angle, it looked horribly like a Bear, but when it lifted its head from feeding, I was so relieved to see that it was "only" a Moose! A young couple were coming along the trail towards me and I said they must have seen it even closer. My voice was heard by the animal and unfortunately it moved quickly away. I like to think that a Bear or Cougar would react in the same way, lol! From Brown-Lowery, I passed my favourite little wetland and found the Snipe standing, as usual, on a fence post. Sorry, everyone, you might just get fed up of Snipe photos - if you aren't already! Got home around 6;00 p.m., feeling content that, even though the morning had been pretty disappointing, the day was a a good one. Would love to get in my car and go out again today, but I have things to get done and I don't want to overdo the driving, in case I make my shoulders any worse. flic.kr/p/nWBxKS
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