Erigeron pallens

Submitted by Lori S. on Sun, 01/01/2012 - 11:44

Erigeron pallens is a relative rarity that occurs on rocky alpine slopes in Alberta, BC, in the western part of the former District of MacKenzie, the Yukon, and Alaska (Moss & Packer). It's also known as Erigeron purpuratus ssp. pallens.

I've only come across one of these so far, in the one of the highest elevation, and barrenest, places we hike. It doesn't seem that there are many photos of it available, so I invite you to feast your eyes on this little beauty!
Who knows when any of us may come upon it again?


Submitted by deesen on Sun, 01/01/2012 - 13:04

Lovely little thing Lori. I've become interested in Erigeron, as well as a whole host of other North American species, as a result of reading Graham Nicholls book "Alpine Plants of North America" (Timber Press-2002). I have E. aureus and E. compositus seeds from the current AGS Exchange as a starter.

Submitted by Lori S. on Sun, 01/01/2012 - 16:01

A couple of very nice choices, David, and ones we see often in this neck of the woods!

Submitted by Tim Ingram on Sun, 01/01/2012 - 16:27

My goodness it does look barren Lori, and the rock almost looks like marble. Was there very much else up there too? I have grown a few American erigerons from seed as well and they are rather charming plants.

Submitted by Lori S. on Sun, 01/01/2012 - 17:38

It's actually very old quartzite of the Gog Group that's exposed in that area by thrust faulting and glacial valley erosion.  It's Neoproterozoic to (more likely in this area) Cambrian in age, that is, 560 - 513 million years old (according to Gadd's Handbook of the Canadian Rockies).  
Well, I described it as barren - and it is barren in comparison to densely vegetated alpine meadows below - but it is an utterly fascinating environment to walk across.  The plants found up there are few in number, dwarfed in stature, but absolutely choice.
I guess I would say it's "barren" in the same sense that some desert areas are... there would not be much to see if you were whizzing by in a car on the highway, but if you take the time to look, with every few steps, you come upon a new treasure.

Submitted by RickR on Sun, 01/01/2012 - 20:07

I was going to ask about the rock substrate, too.  It's different then what we are used to seeing.

Erigeron compositus was one of the first real alpines I ever grew.  (It was bought at a Chapter plant sale, of course.)  This species seeds around nicely in my troughs.

Submitted by Hoy on Sun, 01/01/2012 - 23:58

I think it is beautiful! Both the plant(s) and the rocks and the barrenness!

Gives me the feeling of that I should do some walking but the weather isn't something to boast of! Did a little walk yesterday though, just to take a look at a new road they are building across one of our main access routes to the hills. Not a pretty sight but some interesting rocks - mostly different kinds of gneiss.

I thought at first the mineral in your picture was a kind of feldspar, Lori.
I like Erigerons too but they tend to be shortlived in the humid climate here.

Submitted by Booker on Mon, 01/02/2012 - 07:43

Superb images, Lori ... many thanks for posting.  Roll on summer.

Submitted by Weiser on Wed, 01/04/2012 - 07:19

Thank you for showing this little gem! :)

Submitted by Mark McD on Wed, 01/04/2012 - 20:11

Lori, a beautiful little species, perfect for a trough I suppose.  I remember seeing one of your photos before, but welcome the reminder of just how choice this plant is.  Hopefully you'll be able to collect seed sometime, grow it, and introduce this species into cultivation. :)

Submitted by Boland on Mon, 01/16/2012 - 08:11

I can't say I've stumbled into this one but you hike higher into the mountains than I do.....please post this beauty in the image gallery!

Submitted by Lori S. on Mon, 01/16/2012 - 19:30

I sent the photos to eFlora of BC a couple of weeks ago, hoping to get confirmation of the ID.  (The IDs there are done by volunteers, and apparently there is a backlog of photos to go through.) 
I believe it fits the description in Moss' Flora of Alberta (which is essentially the description shown at eFlora of BC), but I'd like to get other opinions before I post the photos in other sites. 

Submitted by Hoy on Fri, 02/03/2012 - 15:46

Lori, how exiting! Congratulations :o

Submitted by RickR on Fri, 02/03/2012 - 18:06

Marvelous, Lori!

And I see those two weren't the only photos accepted by eflora of B.C....

How thrilling to be part of such an effort!  :o :o :o

Submitted by cohan on Fri, 02/03/2012 - 19:35

Yes, congrats, Lori- great to have more online resources! Why is there no Alberta EFlora :(

Submitted by Lori S. on Sat, 02/04/2012 - 12:30

Thanks, all.  I certainly hope the ID is correct, but if it is wrong, I hope someone will point it out.  (It is possible on the eFlora of BC site to send e-mails to the administrator with respect to any photo.)  
The other possibility for this plant is E. lanatus, although that has (proportionally) very large flowers (3-5cm wide, versus 1-2cm wide for E. pallens).