It is amazing how many different varieties of flowers thrive in the alpine areas that we access. Although most CMH Summer Adventure guides have a vast knowledge of these wildflowers, here are 10 facts to keep in mind next time you are out hiking!
1. Nectar Guides: Many bee-pollinated flowers have a contrasting ultraviolet nectar guide that quickly directs a bee to the center of the plant. Since bees can see ultraviolet light, the nectar guides result in a mutually beneficial relationship. The bees can collect nectar more rapidly and the flowers get pollinated.
2. Nectar and Pollen: To encourage insects to visit them, flowers produce a substance called nectar, which gives the visitors energy in the form of carbohydrates. In addition, the pollen the insects collect on their legs is rich in protein, which builds tissue.
3. Fragrance: Flowers also produce fragrances that entice insects to their nectar. The fragrance can attract a bug looking for food or a mate. When they hit the center of the flower, they collect pollen on their legs which they carry with them to the next flower.
4. Western Anemone: Anemone occidentalis,also known as Hippie on a Stick when it has gone to seed. The name come from Greek anemos, wind anemone, daughter of the wind. It is called windflower because its plumed seeds parachute on autumn winds, borne aloft as they disperse.
5. Glacier Lily, Avalanche Lily: Erythronium grandiflorum, one of the first flowers to bloom after the snow melts. The native peoples harvested the bulbs and cooked them with other bland roots, the bulbs added a spicy flavour to the rest of the meal. Bears dig up glacier lily bulbs, leave them in the hot summer sun for a few days and then come back to eat them. The bulb has an indigestable carbohydrate which turns to edible fructose when cooked or left in the sun, how did the bears figure this out?
6. Sub Alpine Buttercup: Ranunculus eeschscholtzii, Ranunculceae, the buttercup family. Ranunculus is Latin for little frog, because Buttercups like damp ditches and moist meadow just as frogs do.
7. Moss Campion, Silene acualis: This is one of the most beautiful alpine cushion plants. The speciaes name acualis means “without a stem” and refers to the moss like, low-growing, cushion habit of the plant. The common name campion (or Champion) comes from europe, where flowers of red campion were used to adorn wreaths placed on the heads of champions at public games.
8. Mountain Ladyslipper, Cypripedium montanum:The Okanagan native peoples called them “moccasins” or “giant baby’s footwear,” and used the steeped stalks and leaves as a medicine. pregnant women drank this medicine to ensure having a small baby.
9. Indian or Common Red Paintbrush, Castelleja miniata:The Carrier native peoples forbade children to pick red paintbrush because it was considered sacred. The species name refers to the scarlet-red colour, “minium,” an oxide of lead.
10. Sweet Coltsfoot, Petasites frigidus: The native people used the young leaves and flowers as a potherb and burning the leaves produces ashes that may be used as salt.
Want to know more about mountain wildflowers? Join our guides this summer for a flower filled adventure!