Smith-Dorrien roadside plants, eastern slope Rockies, Alberta

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Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27
Smith-Dorrien roadside plants, eastern slope Rockies, Alberta

Here are a few photos from a short tootle with my sister up the Smith-Dorrien road behind Canmore on June 29th.

I have to say that I was a bit surprised (shocked?, affronted?, even disappointed?... ) to see some of the plants that I consider "alpine" growing at relatively low elevation in the scree along the roadside, where the rock cilffs rise out of the Spray Lakes reservoir!  (Obviously, that's my problem of perception, not that of the plants!)  It was excellent that my sister, a nonhiker, could see a few of them, thusly, but I will continue to prefer to see them in their "usual" alpine situations, for as long as I'm physically able, where they are unsullied by road dust (and away from the company of the cretins who spray paint inanities on the rock faces).  Anyway...

An interesting bicoloured Rhodiola integrifolia; Silene uralensis, looking charming as always:


I've read of cryptogamic soil in the desert - would this not be considered it as well?

A lousy photo of  a very cute Cerastium(?):

Botrychium sp.; Oxytropis sericea(?); Oxytropis monticola(?) - please correct me if I'm getting these wrong (I didn't key them out):


After some consideration, it has occurred to me that, compared to Europe, we have a lot of not terribly showy orchids in these parts, LOL!  Not that I don't appreciate seeing them - and we saw a lot of these.... Corallorhiza trifida:

And one of these... northern twayblade, Listera borealis:

And a few of these... Now that's more like it!  ;-)   Calypso orchid, Calypso bulbosa:



Hoy's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-15

I would love to see a roadside like that myself!

Here, at least at the west coast, it is common that the alpine plants go all the way from the mountains down to sea level. Sometimes the horizontal distance from the summits is shorter than the vertical!

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

Vaxvick's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2011-11-02

Interesting photos, Lori.  Likely it's Botrychium lunarium but I'm not an expert.  We found B. virginianum on the Many Spings trail this June.  Were you on the Smith-Dorrien on the west side of the reservoir, or the main road on the east side?


Linda Vaxvick in Calgary, Alberta

Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27

Yes, I expect you're right... from my crude keying out efforts, it does seem to fit Botrychium lunaria, moonwort.   I'm really lousy at ID'ing ferns... thank heavens there are some more distinctive ones!

This was along the Spray Lakes reservoir, just to have a look-see.

Many Springs trail looks interesting (just looked it up).  We haven't spent much time at all in Bow Valley P.P. but that looks like a really good reason to visit some time.

Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Zone 3
-30 C to +30 C (rarely!); elevation ~1130m; annual precipitation ~40 cm

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