Common alpine wildflowers
Wildflowers, with their variety of colours, shapes, and scents, add immensely to the Mount Revelstoke and Glacier experience. Whether identifying, photographing or simply appreciating them, wildflowers brighten a visit to this mountain landscape.
|Mountain arnica||Glacier lily||Arctic lupine|
|Monkey flower||Pink mountain heather||White mountain heather|
|Western anenome||Subalpine daisy||Paintbrush|
|Willowherb||Moss campion||Spring beauty|
|Bracted lousewort||Sitka valerian||Spotted saxifrage|
Protecting and Enjoying Wildflowers
So that future visitors can enjoy wildflowers, and so that the flowers themselves continue to thrive, picking is not permitted. You can enjoy the brilliant floral displays of Mount Revelstoke and Glacier national parks in their wild setting through photography, identification, or simply appreciation, and leave them intact so that others also have the same pleasurable experience.
Mountain arnica (Arnica latifolia)
Mountain arnica was used for bruises and cuts by the Nlaka’pmx people and was considered a ‘love charm’ by the Okanagan people. Arnica is commonly used in Europe and North America in herbal remedies for sprains and bruises.
Glacier lily (Erythronium grandiflorum)
Glacier lily bulbs were a very important source of carbohydrates for Interior Salish peoples. The roots are not edible when raw, but cooking them converts an indigestible carbohydrate into a sweet fructose. Grizzly bears will also dig these roots up to eat them.
Arctic lupine (Lupinus arcticus)
Arctic lupine carpets Mount Revelstoke’s alpine meadows with colour. In 1954, 10,000 year old lupine seeds were found frozen in the Yukon and some of them germinated!
Monkey flower (Mimulus lewisii)
Pink monkey flowers are usually found next to streams. They have sensitive stigmas (the tip of the female reproductive organ) that close together when they are touched by pollinator. This feature probably helps with pollination.
Pink mountain heather (Phyllococe empetriformis)
Pink mountain heather strongly resembles the classic heather from Scotland (Calluna vulgaris), however it is a different species altogether. Nevertheless, it evokes the same feelings of atmospheric wild space that define Scotland. Pink mountain heather flowers can be used instead of hops in beer-making, much the same way that the Celts used their own heather flowers.
White mountain heather (Cassiope mertensiana)
The white, urn-shaped flowers of this mountain heathers act like little greenhouses. They allow light in, trap heat, and offer protection from wind. The air inside the flower warms up and the flower’s ovaries get the extra energy they need to produce fruit.
Western anemone (Anemone occidentalis)
Western anemone goes by many common names including: "mop-tops," "globe flowers," "toe-headed babies" and "hippy heads". These names describe this plant’s seed heads which are better recognized than the flower itself.
Subalpine daisy (Erigeron peregrinus)
This plant decreases in size with increasing elevation.
Paintbrush (Castilleja miniata)
Paintbrushes are an important food for hummingbirds which are attracted to red and yellow flowers. Hummingbirds have a fantastically fast metabolism – higher than any other vertebrate. The hummingbirds found in our park follow blooming flowers north from Mexico, sipping nectar along the way. After breeding, they make their way up to these alpine meadows and follow the flowers back south again in late summer.
Willowherb (Chamerion latifolium, previously Epilobium latifolium)
Willowherb is sometimes called river-beauty as it can often be found growing in the sand or gravel along rivers. This flower is well adapted to living in cold alpine and arctic environments. A willowherb flower was once observed going from completely frozen to thawed within a few hours with no damage to the flower.
Moss campion (Silene acaulis)
Moss campion is a classic ‘cushion plant’. Cushion plants grow low to the ground and no living part of the plant projects above the cushion surface. This growth form is common in arctic and alpine environments, because the cushion absorbs the sun’s warmth and traps still, warm air. A difference of over 15ºC between air temperature and the temperature in a cushion plant is possible. The cushion also traps wind-blown particles that nourish the plant.
Spring beauty (Clatoynia lanceolata)
Spring beauty is a spring ephemeral – it comes up as soon as the snow melts and within 2-4 weeks it blooms, produces seeds and stores enough energy for the following spring. It can even use its energy reserves to produce heat and melt through the last of the snow. This early and quick life-cycle allows it to avoid competing for sunlight with the larger, leafier plants.
Bracted lousewort (Pedicularis bracteosa)
Louseworts are semi-parasitic on the roots of other plants, meaning the take energy from neighbouring plants, rather than producing it themselves through photosynthesis. The name lousewort means ‘lice-plant’ and comes from an old belief that cattle would get lice by browsing on this plant.
Sitka valerian (Valeriana sitchensis)
Sitka valerian has been used to treat insomnia and helps with relaxation. When the plant initially comes up in the spring, its shoots are red and its flowers are tinged pink. Later in the season the plant loses this red pigment, called anthocyanin. The red pigment helps to protect the plant by blocking some UV radiation and it also warms the plant by absorbing more infrared radiation.
Spotted saxifrage (Saxifraga bronchialis)
It is well worth your time to take a closer look at this tiny white flower. Notice how the spots on the petals gradually change from crimson at the tips to yellow at the base. “Saxifrage” means “rock-breaker” and refers to the fact that these plants tend to grow in talus and rock crevices.