Plants of Forbidden Plateau

From an email by Jocie to the Botany Group on July 25.

I recently hiked the plateau traverse (from Wood Mountain to Paradise Meadows: 28 km) with Mandy and Krista, spending one night at Mackenzie Lake. We had a great time despite a torrential downpour near Croteau Lake on our second day.

Many of you have hiked the plateau or visited Paradise Meadows, and I’m sure all of you appreciate, as I do, the wildness and beauty of Strathcona Park.

The through-plateau hike takes one on a journey through a variety of  subalpine habitats, with a wonderful array of interesting plants all along the way. There are stretches of deep, rather spooky woods after which one emerges at charming lakes and open heather parkland. Lush meadows (a bit buggy) are full of flowers. There were many other surprises along the way…a wolf scat on the trail, a beaver slapping its tail at Mackenzie Lake, a tree frog sitting on a leaf, and spotted sandpipers peeping and bobbing their tails at the lake edge. So much to see!

Here are a few photos from the trip.

View of one of the Drabble Lakes looking toward Mount Becher.

Menzie’s burnet (Sanguisorba menziesii).

Mountain arnica (Arnica latifolia).

Sitka valerian (Valeriana sitchensis) with a long-horned beetle (I think this might be Evodinus vancouveri)

Plateau parkland and pond.

Slime mold (Feligo septica) and bracket fungus in the woods.

False hellebore (Veratrum viride).

Alpine speedwell (Veronica wormskjoldii).

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Rare orchid from White Ridge

Catching up with communications in the Botany Group during July. This is from an email from Jocie to the group on July 20.

Frank Hovenden and Jack Bindernagel recently did a trip to White Ridge, a provincial park that is accessed from near Gold River. White Ridge has a lot of limestone and is home to many rare and unusual plants. It isn’t easy to get to—the logging roads are rough and the terrain is steep for hiking. So thanks to Frank and Jack for sharing their botanical adventure with the mountain ladyslipper with us!  This the only place that this orchid has been found on Vancouver Island.

Here are a few notes from Frank (all photos by Jack):

I revisited White Ridge this weekend after an absence of 20 years, hoping to relocate the mountain ladyslipper (Cypripedium montanum).  Orchid numbers have recovered on Site 1 following the avalanche in 1999.  On Site 2 the numbers have increased.

1. A closeup of the orchid.

2. Frank with the orchid patch.

3. Western sweet-vetch (Hedysarum occidentale) growing in a limestone feature.  

4. Spear-fruited draba (Draba lonchocarpa), a rare and interesting plant.

5. Spotted saxifrage (Saxifraga bronchialis), which was abundant. 

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Tennant Lake flowers

Catching up with communications in the Botany Group during July. This is from an email from Jocie to the group on July 19.

Last week I was camping with the family at Ralph River (south end of Buttle Lake, in Strathcona Park). Our trip included a hike up to Tennant Lake, a place I hadn’t been before. To get to the trailhead, one has to drive through the mine and then walk along the road for about a kilometre, passing the Arnica Lake/Phillips Ridge and Upper Myra Falls trailheads. The Tennant Lake trail follows an old service road that heads straight uphill over a jumble of rough granite. After about 2 hours of uphill slogging, one reaches the lake and the sublime subalpine landscape. Always worth it!

The chunky granite with a trickle of water was just the right habitat for pink monkeyflower (Erythranthe lewisii) which was abundant. Also, some nice green and bronze mountainbells (Anticlea occidentalis) were blooming.

There were more plants that looked interesting, but family members kept a brisk pace so I couldn’t stop and look at much…but then again, if I got looking at plants I never would have made it! Tennant Lake was lovely and we had some great views of Mt Myra.

Off topic from botany, we also had a nice look at a Pacific tree frog perched on a granite boulder.

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Wintergreens etc.

Catching up with communications in the Botany Group during July. This is from an email from Jocie to the group on July 18.

Here is a message from Gary and Katy with some plants of interest:

Below are photos of wintergreens and allies at the back of the woodlot Katy and I have on Forbidden. Thanks to Al Hopwood for his photos.

Pinesap (Hypopitys monotropa)

I think of these plants as being grouped into:

CHLOROPHYTES: Pink wintergreen (Pyrola asarifola) and white-veined wintergreen (P. picta)

SAPROPHYTES: Pinesap (Hypopitys monotropa) and Indian-pipe (Monotropa uniflora)

PARASITES: Leafless wintergreen (P. aphylla). This is blue-listed. It indirectly parasitizes Douglas fir through mycorrhizal fungi.

In addition there were other saprophytes, including gnome plant, pinedrops, and western coralroot. I have never seen such numbers of these leafless flowers before. Is it the weather? A harbinger of mushrooms to come?

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