Alberta Wanderings

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cohan
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Alberta Wanderings

Hi all, I'll post here some images of Alberta plants, both on my acreage (in the 'wild parts') the family farm (uncle and cousins now, was my grandparents' farm) this acreage was carved from, botanising bike rides around my area, and occasional day trips into foothills, mountains, and other areas in Alberta..

I'm going to dive right in in the middle of 2010, with images not yet posted (I've done a good chunk of the year at SRGC http://www.srgc.org.uk/smf/index.php?topic=5641.0 , and everything posted to forums is also posted more fully on Picasa);
I think what I will do is continue posting on SRGC, but I will try to mostly do a different set of images from each outing, in case anyone might look at both!

This first set is the end of a long bike ride on June 20, visiting some familiar sites, and finding a great new spot which had a lovely colony of Dodecatheon, among other things..
https://picasaweb.google.com/cactuscactus/June202010AGeraniumsAndRoses#
https://picasaweb.google.com/cactuscactus/June202010BRueAndValerian#
https://picasaweb.google.com/cactuscactus/June202010CShootingStarsAndAle...

This last main site is one I have visited a number of times, having an amazing colony of multicoloured Castilleja miniata (focus on those another day), large patches of Anemone canadensis and many other things. Just a few shots today from the roadside and edge of the poplar woodland..
https://picasaweb.google.com/cactuscactus/June202010DAnemonesAndSarsapar...
First, on the way from the last stop, looking across a cleared wet pasture (maybe hay in dry enough years), I think the yellow is dandelion..

A wet roadside with a semi/aquatic Ranunculus sp

Roadsides near the woodland site, Anemone canadensis

Sarsaparilla, Aralia nudicaulis

On the way home, a nice colony of Antennaria sp in a pasture

cohan
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Another bike ride, June 28, last year; Only about 6 1/2 miles from home, but on a road I would never have had any reason to go on if not for botanising!
https://picasaweb.google.com/cactuscactus/June282010APrimrosesSparrowSEg...

The ride is pleasant, with some wildflowers along the way, but no big concentrations until arriving at the main site--one of the first sites I found (stumbled on) when I started riding around local back roads on 2009: one of those unassuming little patches of roadside (ditch, in local speech) that just happens to be much richer in species than most spots.
Adjacent to the road is a fenced area, presumably used to graze cattle for at least part of the year, a mixed wooded area, with semi-wooded wet land and some open grassy wet area.

This habitat all extends into the ditch, although growth in the ditch in this spot tends to be a bit less lush, probably due to soil disturbance from the road building (not recent) leaving it with a less organic soil.

When I first visited this site, I found dried flowers of our local mealy primrose, Primula incana, so one of my hopes for 2010 was to catch them in flower, and this visit was timed just right!

   

There is a sizable colony on one side of the road, more plants on the other side, and they also extend into the grassy area beyond the ditch.

 

A view of the foliage, and a pollinator!

 

west central alberta, canada; just under 1000m; record temps:min -45C/-49F;max 34C/93F; http://picasaweb.google.ca/cactuscactus  http://urbanehillbillycanada.blogspot.com/

cohan
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Same site.
https://picasaweb.google.com/cactuscactus/June282010APrimrosesSparrowSEg...

The primula is by no means rare, (it used to grow on the family farm until that area became too overgrown with woodies and taller forbs once grazing was decreased) but a more commonly seen plant, in similar wet grassy places (or just easier to find?) is Pedicularis groenlandica.
The fourth shot has an Eriophorum sp in the background.
     

An even more common plant--or genus, at any rate, I am just beginning to attempt to distinguish them-- is Platanthera/Habenaria. This one could be Platanthera viridis?, owing to apparent bracts; I will have to do a new set of photos of this common genus here, knowing some of the distinguishing characters!

Also widespread and common are numerous sedges and allies such as cottongrasses; Here, presumed Carex aurea, and an Eriophorum sp.

 

west central alberta, canada; just under 1000m; record temps:min -45C/-49F;max 34C/93F; http://picasaweb.google.ca/cactuscactus  http://urbanehillbillycanada.blogspot.com/

cohan
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Same site:
https://picasaweb.google.com/cactuscactus/June282010APrimrosesSparrowSEg...

A few scattered things, one of our tallish Erigeron sp common to damp grassy places

the always delightful Sisyrinchium montanum

and a choice willow, Salix sp; not one of our most common  I don't know how large this gets,  I've seen a couple smallish ones, but they may have been grazed or cut, I'll have to keep watching, and will probably try to find some cuttings and/or next year

Stellaria sp, delicate things found in grassy/damp places..

Less common, I was excited to find Cypripedium passerinum at this site--only a couple of plants, but they likely occur farther away from the road as well. Plants were quite small--young? or less happy than where I have seen them farther west in an extensive colony of robust plants. From my limited experience, they seem to like damp/wet conditions in semi-shade--perhaps this site is more exposed than they prefer? Just a couple of crappy shots, sorry.. I'll have to dig up photos from the other site sometime..

 

west central alberta, canada; just under 1000m; record temps:min -45C/-49F;max 34C/93F; http://picasaweb.google.ca/cactuscactus  http://urbanehillbillycanada.blogspot.com/

cohan
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https://picasaweb.google.com/cactuscactus/June282010APrimrosesSparrowSEg...

Last set for this stop, starting with the very common (going from full sun to deep shade, as long as the soil is at least somewhat moist) Geum rivale, here with the more compact form of plants growing in sun--fairly compact golden green basal foliage, compared to bluer, lusher foliage in shade, flowering stems still fairly tall (60cm at a wild guess) but not  as tall and flopping as in shade..

   

Fourth shot shows primula in background, last shows a flower heading to seed...

This final plant is a bit of a mystery to me (I have yet to see if the Flora will illuminate it..). It seems similar to our common Pyrola asarifolia?, but has conspicuous raised veining on the leaves, which generally seem smaller, and flowers maybe just a touch darker (though they don't stay as dark as buds seen in some of these shots); I have only seen this form in wet semi/wooded areas, here it is growing along the fenceline, under/near small trees where the more open ditch transitions to open woodland on the other side of the fence..

   

west central alberta, canada; just under 1000m; record temps:min -45C/-49F;max 34C/93F; http://picasaweb.google.ca/cactuscactus  http://urbanehillbillycanada.blogspot.com/

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Nice series Cohan, the photos really convey the habitat in which the plants are found growing.  Regarding Pyrola asarifolia, I'm surprised it can survive in such a competitive environment with grasses. 

I checked the USDA Plant Profile for Pyrola asarifolia, and there are two subspecies listed, with ssp. asarifolia found throughout much of the US and Canada.  I suspect with such a huge distribution, the plant is variable.  I don't know the distinction between ssp. asarifolia and the northwestern ssp. bracteata.
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=PYAS

The Burke Museum of Natural History site is a great resource, some excellent photos of this Pyrola there.  Some photos show much more textured leaves than others, so this must be one of its variable characteristics.
Pyrola asarifolia ssp. asarifolia:
http://biology.burke.washington.edu/herbarium/imagecollection.php?Genus=...

Pyrola asarifolia ssp. bracteata:
http://biology.burke.washington.edu/herbarium/imagecollection.php?Genus=...

My first encounter with P. asarifolia was when I lived near Seattle, Washington (even though this species is also native to my Massachusetts home).  I potted up a couple pieces, barely anything you'd call roots at all, just the long horizontal threads that "pose as roots" and run under the woodland duff.  It was potted in a wide low bowl-shaped clay container, with light duffy soil and topdressed with pine needles, and keep moderately moist.  I was amazed, the pot quickly filled up with lots of rosettes and flowers, and made for a fetching container for the 4 years I lived there; ultimately I gave it away when I moved back east.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Catching up here...Cohan, your photos of Primula incana are so informative for me, and tell me why I failed with this species.  I see that it needs SUN and moisture!  I was growing it in shade, and it could be I lost it due to conditions much drier than it needs.  The flowers are so cute, not a show-stopper, but I like such demure understated plants.  Nice shots, I like the one with the bee :D

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

cohan
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McDonough wrote:

Nice series Cohan, the photos really convey the habitat in which the plants are found growing.  Regarding Pyrola asarifolia, I'm surprised it can survive in such a competitive environment with grasses. 

I checked the USDA Plant Profile for Pyrola asarifolia, and there are two subspecies listed, with ssp. asarifolia found throughout much of the US and Canada.  I suspect with such a huge distribution, the plant is variable.  I don't know the distinction between ssp. asarifolia and the northwestern ssp. bracteata.
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=PYAS

The Burke Museum of Natural History site is a great resource, some excellent photos of this Pyrola there.  Some photos show much more textured leaves than others, so this must be one of its variable characteristics.
Pyrola asarifolia ssp. asarifolia:
http://biology.burke.washington.edu/herbarium/imagecollection.php?Genus=...

Pyrola asarifolia ssp. bracteata:
http://biology.burke.washington.edu/herbarium/imagecollection.php?Genus=...

My first encounter with P. asarifolia was when I lived near Seattle, Washington (even though this species is also native to my Massachusetts home).  I potted up a couple pieces, barely anything you'd call roots at all, just the long horizontal threads that "pose as roots" and run under the woodland duff.  It was potted in a wide low bowl-shaped clay container, with light duffy soil and topdressed with pine needles, and keep moderately moist.  I was amazed, the pot quickly filled up with lots of rosettes and flowers, and made for a fetching container for the 4 years I lived there; ultimately I gave it away when I moved back east.

Thanks for the comments, Mark, you prompted me to finally do some digging in the Flora and online; I will still need to go look carefully at specific characters in season, but based on photos it seems likeliest to be just variations in P. asarifolia-- all other possibilities do not seem to have sufficiently blunt leaves.. nor did I see any white/ish flowers on these, but that seems to be variable.. The odd thing is that this form seems visibly distinct from the more common P asarifolia forms, here, and specific to these wettish semi-wooded places; maybe its an environmentally caused difference in appearance, but I have doubts, as the usual smooth leaf form is found in a lot of places; I'll have to keep looking in the future, and see if I am just mis-observing the distinction...
Here are two pics side by side to compare--it may  be that I am just imagining a distinction, but in person they feel more different than they seem here...
"Regular" form

"Special form" this is a different locale than those posted earlier, and this is a roadside recently cleared of woody plants, so the temptation is to say that this is just what P asarifolium looks like when it gets sunburned, as this one clearly is, but I'm sure I have seen this in intact habitats where it still feels different than the regular form.. I will need to keep documenting this year....

west central alberta, canada; just under 1000m; record temps:min -45C/-49F;max 34C/93F; http://picasaweb.google.ca/cactuscactus  http://urbanehillbillycanada.blogspot.com/

cohan
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Joined: 2011-02-03

McDonough wrote:

Catching up here...Cohan, your photos of Primula incana are so informative for me, and tell me why I failed with this species.  I see that it needs SUN and moisture!  I was growing it in shade, and it could be I lost it due to conditions much drier than it needs.  The flowers are so cute, not a show-stopper, but I like such demure understated plants.  Nice shots, I like the one with the bee :D

Mark, this species definitely grows in spots that are at least seasonally damp to wet, here; I imagine they could take drier conditions, at least for the later summer, since there are years when all but the wettest parts of our wetlands are dry in mid-late summer, but probably not a dry spot in your hot dry summer weather. Recent years (3 or 4) have been much wetter than typical, with water standing in places I only would have expected it in spring, growing up...
I expect the moisture might be more important than full sun, since it does have tall grasses etc around it--it is a species that has disappeared or mainly so, from the overgrown (with woody species and tall ungrazed forbs) from wet areas on the family farm where it used to grow, but that is likely both shade and overcompetition..I haven't tried this yet in the garden, seeds have been scarce to non-existent (likely they disperse quickly...)

west central alberta, canada; just under 1000m; record temps:min -45C/-49F;max 34C/93F; http://picasaweb.google.ca/cactuscactus  http://urbanehillbillycanada.blogspot.com/

Hoy
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Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-15

Cohan, I really like your wanderings! Some of the plants I am familiar with, but most of them are new to me - the species, not the genera!

Trond
Rogaland, Norway - with cool, often rainy summers  (29C max) and mild, often rainy winters (180 cm/year)!

cohan
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Joined: 2011-02-03

Thanks, Trond! I have to admit I am jealous of those who come from areas with a lot of endemism--many of our local species occur over vast natural ranges (often without much visible variation!) --but I guess that's cool in its own way  ;D
Anyway, I think its always neat to see the habitat where someone else lives/travels and see how it's different or the same!
I've been slowly catching up on your old posts esp in the garden walks thread, and nice to see for sure both your nature and nurture :) Fun to see both related and completely new plants...

west central alberta, canada; just under 1000m; record temps:min -45C/-49F;max 34C/93F; http://picasaweb.google.ca/cactuscactus  http://urbanehillbillycanada.blogspot.com/

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