Land of lichen - alpine hike, August 10, 2013

Submitted by Lori S. on Wed, 08/14/2013 - 21:57

Forgetmenot Ridge in Kananaskis P. P. was finally accessible, via a one-lane temporary bridge on the highway (after the main bridge was destroyed in the late June flood).  The bloom was mostly done on the ridge, but there were still some interesting sights, especially up on the conglomerate headlands...

Rhodiola integrifolia; Ramaria(?) fungus;  Sedum lanceolatum; Eriogonum umbellatum v. alpinum (x2); Campanula rotundifolia; 


Still a few Eriogonum androsaceum in bloom; Astragalus alpinus(?); Rhinanthus minor; Solidago sp.:



Submitted by Lori S. on Thu, 08/15/2013 - 09:55

And up in the conglomerate headlands, fabulous lichens:


Plus some very attractive Artemisia michauxiana:


Gentianella amarella; Zigadenus elegans; Townsendia parryi(?) with odd white flowers:


More lichen, Thamnolia subuliformis (I think); map lichen (x2):



Ferns and chasms and even more lichen:


I see I still haven't caught up on all these threads... it seems like I come in late and comment and end up being the last to comment in every

Great location- some familiar plants, and some things I'm still not getting into the right places to see...


I see I still haven't caught up on all these threads... it seems like I come in late and comment and end up being the last to comment in every

Great location- some familiar plants, and some things I'm still not getting into the right places to see...



LOL Cohen, I feel the same sometimes, I come in so late to a thread, that often I just skip to some newer topic, oh brother.

Lori and Cohan, there's been so much mystery around the rarely photographed Eriogonum androsaceum, that the pictures here by you Lori, in flower, and Cohan, yours showing many habitat photos, are practically historic in showing the poorly documented species, hazzah!

Lori, the lichens are wonderful, in New England the granite boulders (I'm assuming they're granite which predominates here, I'm an idiotic so far as geology) are typically covered with beautiful lichens, adding such character and interest to rocks.  Artimisia michauxiana is new to me, a nice soft green one that looks worthy of cultivation.

Submitted by cohan on Fri, 10/11/2013 - 12:12

In reply to by Mark McD

I just hope the id of the Eriogonum androsaceum I have shown is correct- as you probably remember, it was based on discussion here on the forum of photos of mine, before I was a member, and those photos included exactly one flower stalk. I have still seen the plants in only that one small location, nor any other Eriogonums except the dissimilar E flavum, so I have nothing to compare them to to have any sense of the id for myself.

I'd say our IDs of Eriogonum androsaceum were somewhat independent and not just based on your early photos, if that takes any of the pressure off, LOL!   The ID of your early couple of photos, one with a flower stalk but without detail, came from Dr. Reveal, whom Mark consulted.   This thread lays out some of it:

In the same exchange, Dr. Reveal was also sent some of my photos of it; it was unclear to me from his comments, however, if he was commenting on E. ovalifolium in Alberta in general or if he was saying my photos were E. ovalifolium... the latter seemed to make little sense as my photos and yours laid side-by-side appear to show the same plant.  (This is where the thread ends.)

None of my many pix of it in flower showed enough detail to distinguish the stipes (one more detail mentioned in the species descriptions), so I got some better close-ups... #26

So, here's what I believe to be Eriogonum androsaceum, from the place where I see it in greatest abundance, Forgetmenot Ridge.   It is very common on this dry, windy, low alpine front ranges ridge - this hike is the only one we do into this environment but I expect it is similarly abundant in the adjacent area in similar habitat.  I also see it on some of our higher alpine hikes but sparingly, only on the driest rocky ridge areas where it only attains small size, compared to the strong growth on Forgetmenot.   The flowers change from creamy to pink/orange through the bloom period.

If you think the ID is incorrect, or if some other details are needed to be sure (I can get more photos next summer), please let me know!





They are nice to see in flower, for sure! Hopefully I get out there sometime at the right season to see them blooming... when have you seen peak bloom?

We were just at the Abraham Lake site a few days ago, and they were not quite in the full shocking magenta of fall colour, but still definitely pink..

Dry, windy, low alpine (at most- well below timberline, but in an exposed site) describes the site I know the plant from as well.. though, I do imagine the clayey soil does hold what moisture it gets fairly well, and there is probably a fairly damp time in the early/mid-summer rainy season..

The bloom period is mid-July to the first week of August for Forgetmenot at about 2200m elevation, from my photos.  As Abraham Lake is a lot lower, at 1340 according to Wikipedia, it would be presumably be a fair bit earlier, maybe at the beginning of that range?  I think it may be even earlier yet, perhaps towards the beginning of July?  Hard to say, having never been there, and since bloom time is quite variable in the mountains here anyway.  

We normally get in at least two hikes to Forgetmenot... the first, at the beginning of July to mid-July (depending on the snow melt, weather, etc.), usually catches the potentillas in bloom, and the next one, a couple of weeks later, usually catches the Eriogonum androsaceum in bloom.  This year, due to the highway bridge being washed out by the end-of-June floods, we didn't get in to Forgetmenot until August 10th, and missed most of the E. androsaceum bloom along with most of the other bloom. 

I did see a low Potentilla (which I have not id'd) at the Abraham Lake site (mabe 10-20m above the lake) in bloom, would have to check what time that was, I'm thinking late May, but who knows if it is similar to the Potentilla you see at Forgetmenot... Mid-summer seems a likely time for the Erio, since that is when I have never been to that site- spring, late summer, fall, only...