Posts Tagged ‘Early Spring’

 

Petasites sagittatus (syn. frigidus var. sagittatus) - Arrow-Leaf Coltsfoot, in roadside swamp, Gibraltar Mine Road, McLeese Lake, B.C. - June 9, 2014.

Petasites sagittatus (syn. P. frigidus var. sagittatus) – Arrow-Leaved Coltsfoot, in roadside swamp, Gibraltar Mine Road, McLeese Lake, B.C. – June 9, 2014. In full seedhead development, which is the plant’s most conspicuous stage. The pure white “fluffs”, on foot-high (or taller) stems, are extremely eye-catching. These quickly disperse, leaving only the broad leaves as evidence of the plant’s presence. Image: HFN

Perennial. Zone 2. Asteraceae. (Syn. Compositae.) Widespread through Northern North America, Alaska to Labrador. Found in wet seepages, swampy lake margins, and boggy meadows.

“I’ve seen a plant that I think you should look at,” reported Edwin the other day. “It’s got pure white flowers on tall stems, and it’s growing in the swamp on the Gibraltar Mine hill, just where the great blue heron hangs out.”

Well, that was like catnip to a cat, and off we went, camera at the ready. “What could it be?” I pondered, with dreams of finding something exotic. But as soon as we got close, the identification was immediate. It was the rather spectacular seed stage of yet another Coltsfoot.

This is decidedly the most noticeable Coltsfoot – Petasites –  in the Cariboo-Chilcotin, with its large (up to a foot long) arrowhead shaped leaves, green on the surface, and felted white underneath.

Leaves are large, thickly textured, and entire, with sharply toothed margins. The leaf surfaces are quite smooth, but the undersides are thickly coated with tiny, silky white hairs, making for an interesting contrast.

Leaves are large, thickly textured, and entire, with sharply toothed margins. The leaf surfaces are quite smooth, but the undersides are thickly coated with tiny, silky white hairs, making for an interesting contrast. Near McLeese Lake, June 9, 2014. Image: HFN

Petasites sagittatus has a creeping rootstalk, with flower stalks rising from it some distance away from the leaves. The flower stalks emerge in early spring, well before the leaves, and are thick, conspicuously bracted, and topped by clusters of typically Composite Family flowers, consisting of many disc flowers and surrounding ray flowers. Flowers range in shade from a slightly greyish white to faintly pink.

The seedheads are tall, up to 18 inches, and display cotton-ball white clusters of long-haired achenes, which soon disperse on the wind.

June 9, 2014 - Almost ready to fly away...

June 9, 2014 – Almost ready to fly away… Image: HFN

...and there they go.

…and there they go. Image: HFN

This species will sometimes overlap with the other regional Petasites, P. frigidus var. nivalis and P. frigidus var. palmatus, and hybrids showing a mixture of traits may result, but in general this is the easiest of the Coltsfoots to positively identify.

This plant will happily naturalize in a cultivated bog garden, though its vigorous nature and substantial size should be taken into consideration before introducing it.

First Nations’ uses of all of the Coltsfoots included use as an early spring green (cooked), and as a salt substitute (the leaves were burned, leaving a salty residue), and medicinally for chest and stomach ailments. These uses duly noted, it is not recommended that one experiment with consuming or self-medicating with any of the Petasites, as they all contain potentially harmful, liver-damaging alkaloids.

A handsome and unique genus.

One last look - June 9, 2014.

One last look – June 9, 2014. Image: HFN

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Cushion Spurge - Euphorbia polychroma (syn. E. epithymoides) - Prince George, B.C. - May 18, 2014

Cushion Spurge – Euphorbia polychroma (syn. E. epithymoides) – Prince George, B.C. – May 18, 2014 Image: HFN

Perennial. Zone 1. Euphorbiaceae. Native of Europe from southern Germany to the Ukraine, Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey, where it grows in dry forests, mixed meadows, and on rocky hillsides.

Euphorbia was named by Linnaeus in 1753 for Euphorbus, the Greek physician of King Juba II (circa 12 B.C.E.) of ancient Numidia and Mauretania (approximately present-day Morocco), who reportedly discovered medicinal uses for the local species. While Linnaeus assigned the species name epithymoides for this plant, it was renamed polychroma in the 1850s by yet another classifying botanist, Anton Josef Kerner, and this name soon took precedence and is the more commonly recognized designation today. Polychroma is after the Greek polu – ‘many’ – and xrwma – ‘colour’, a reference to the shaded colours of the bracted stem tops and ornate flower clusters.

Sun to part shade; average conditions. This appears to be a deer resistant plant – something to note for those of you afflicted by these increasingly bold and destructive garden pests.

It’s well into May, and everywhere I go these days I note the unmistakably glow of this unique specimen plant. It flourishes happily in mature, well established gardens as much as in newer, more avant-garde plantings accenting newly built homes in the posher parts of town. When (and where) the lilacs bloom, then (and there) too the cushion spurge.

I first became aware of this rather unusual and eye-catching ornamental during our first spring living in an older neighbourhood in a small Alberta town. Many of the front porches of the modest clapboard-sided 1930s’ and 40s’ era homes were flanked by perfectly globular, neon-yellow-tipped twin bushes. Some kind of exotic shrub? – I wondered to myself, until a visit to the botanical garden at the Calgary Zoo acquainted me with its Latin name, and I was able to track it down in the gardening books. (This was long pre-internet – I smile at the memory of how laborious this sort of rather basic research used to be, before the wonders of the Google image search!)

The natural form of this plant is neatly globular, though it may occasionally "birdsnest" with summer thunderstorms. If this happens, a hard trim to within 6 inches or so of the crown will result in quick regrowth to tidy cushion shape.

The natural form of this plant is neatly globular, though it may occasionally “birdsnest” with summer thunderstorms. If this happens, a hard trim to within 6 inches or so of the crown will result in quick regrowth to tidy cushion shape. Image: HFN

Cushion spurge grows to 18 inches tall and 2 ft. wide where happy – which is most places, as it is an adaptable, good-natured thing. It thrives in sun to part shade, and in modestly moist to dry soils, though it doesn’t care for overly soggy ground. Once established it is very drought tolerant, though it will definitely appreciate the occasional soaking in hot summers.

Clumps of woody-based stems are lined with whorls of soft green, rounded foliage, which are tipped with the modified leaves commonly referred to as bracts, though the correct term in this case is cyathium leaves. These turn a vivid, glowing, chartreuse-yellow, centered with clusters of tiny, even brighter yellow petal-less florets. These clusters include nectar-rich glands – nectaries – which reward foraging pollinators. I have not noticed that bees are particularly attracted to the blooms – though they do visit – but the highest traffic seems to be small flies, and ants and other crawling insects.

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Note the small visitor. Image: HFN

An even closer view showing flower structure, and the downy hairs which give the entire plant its velvety texture.

An even closer view showing flower structure, and the downy hairs which give the entire plant its velvety texture. Image: HFN

After blooming and pollination – peak bloom time is all through May and into June – the yellow colour fades to a uniform green. Seed capsules form which eventually pop open later in the summer, catapulting seeds out into the garden, where they sprout in modest numbers. Seedlings are easily removed or transplanted to more desirable locations, where they quickly settle down to the business of growing and forming yet another perfect little globe.

Cushion spurge remains attractive through summer, and can be left to fend for itself or clipped back to produce fresh foliage. The plant fades to yellow in the autumn, frequently showing a red stage before the leaves finally wither after the last, hardest frosts.

Several “improved” (or perhaps one might say “enhanced”) cultivars of Euphorbia polychroma are popular in the nursery trade, including the burgundy-blushed ‘Bonfire’, a patented selection of the Euphorbia polychroma ‘purpurea’ sport which has been grown as a desirable rarity for many years, sometimes under the cultivar name ‘Candy’, and the white-pink-green ‘First Blush’. Of these two types I much prefer the red-leaved variety, as I’ve noticed that the white-variegated form is much less vigorous, and seems to show a high percentage of deformed and puckered leaves.

Euphorbia polychrome 'purpurea' - red-leafed form - an excellent specimen plant, more restrained and smaller than the green-leaved original.

Euphorbia polychrome ‘purpurea’ – red-leaved form – an excellent specimen plant, slightly more restrained and measurably smaller than the green-leaved original. Hill Farm, May 21, 2014. Image: HFN

E. polychroma 'purpurea' shows its richest dark red shading just before the yellow bracts fully develop; after blooming it fades to a uniform green.

E. polychroma ‘purpurea’ shows its richest dark red shading just before the yellow bracts fully develop; after blooming it fades to a uniform green. Image: HFN

The common form of this handsome plant is a venerable garden old-timer, having been grown for centuries both for ornament and for occasional medicinal use. John Gerard’s masterwork The herball, or Generall historie of plantes, first published in England in 1633, reported of  Spurge that “…the juice or milke is good to stop hollow teeth…”  A modern commentator theorizes that the poisonous latex probably destroyed the nerve endings. The specific species of Euphorbia referred to is unknown, though all share the same milky (and irritating) sap. 

Another medicinal use, and the origin of the common name of this very large genus (over 2000 species, found worldwide), is that of a purgative – a vigorous laxative – though one that was prescribed with some caution, as the violence of its action could be fatal if the decoction was too strong. From the French medical term describing the process, “espurgier”, came  the English “purge”, and hence “spurge”, or so the theorizing goes. Though we no longer find ourselves partaking of the plant in any way except that of enjoying its attractive appearance, it is a good idea to treat the plant with sensible respect.

The sap of some species was used to beautify the complexion, and to remove warts, but the herbalists warned about the dangers of letting it get into the eyes, as it could cause severe damage, even blindness, a caveat which has been brought forward to the present day. Some people experience a skin rash from handling the cut foliage, so it is best to be on the safe side and use gloves while pruning. Avoid contact with the milky sap, and supervise young garden visitors if they are too young to heed “don’t touch” warnings.

Don’t let this last bit about the fearsome qualities of the sap put you off – this is a very widely grown plant and incidents of problems with it are exceedingly rare. It doesn’t need much fussing, and can safely be handled with the same common sense that applies throughout the garden. “Don’t put the monkshood leaves in the salad; don’t poke yourself in the eye with the spurge.” There, see how easy that is?! 🙂

One final note. Euphorbia polychroma/epithymoides was awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s prestigious Award of Garden Merit in 1993, confirming its excellent ornamental qualities to the world at large. Experienced gardeners will have taken this as a confirmation of what they already knew. This is a quietly grand garden plant.

 

 

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Corydalis aurea – McLeese Lake, B.C. – May 17, 2014.  Image: HFN

Annual/Biennial. Zone 2. Fumariaceae. North America. Widespread throughout North America, in particular in areas disturbed by development, logging and forest fires. Common in the Cariboo-Chilcotin on recently disturbed ground – on graded roadsides, in gravel pits, and in newly logged areas.

This interesting and largely ephemeral early spring bloomer is occasionally abundant and always something of a surprise to see, appearing in the most unexpected places. Once it blooms in earliest spring, it quickly fades away after casting out its seeds, which can remain dormant for decades until germination conditions are again to its liking.

Technically a winter annual, Yellow Corydalis sprouts in the summer, makes an inconspicuous foliage clump which overwinters in semi-evergreen state, and then advances quickly into flowering stage in early spring. By July its life cycle is nearing its end; the beautiful, lacy, grey-green foliage is turning yellow and the plant is fading fast. No sign of it will be left by autumn.

Corydalis aurea - growing in a gravel pit near McLeese Lake, B.C. - May 17, 2014

Corydalis aurea – growing in a gravel pit near McLeese Lake, B.C. – May 17, 2014. Image: HFN

Plants expand quickly from their over-wintered rosettes, reaching 6 to 12 inches in height and spread. Roots are tap-rooted and fleshy, with spreading side roots. Foliage is rather “carrot-like” in appearance, being much divided, slightly succulent, and softly blue-green.

Tubular blooms are bright yellow blushed with green and are produced in great abundance during the few weeks of flowering time. Early-foraging wild bees are attracted to the nectar-rich blooms, and sometimes bore into the tubes to avoid having to negotiate their way past the stamens at the opening of the flowers.

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Corydalis aurea – detail of flower cluster. Image: HFN

Seeds produced by Corydalis aurea are small, black and shiny, and form encased in slender, cylindrical pods. They are very attractive to ants, who aid in their dispersal by caching the seeds in underground storage chambers; it is theorized that when these nests are disrupted the seeds are brought back to the surface where they then germinate in great abundance.

This plant may be introduced into the rock garden as it is very showy in early spring, but as its ongoing garden presence depends upon random germination of the seeds and the plants themselves disappear after blooming, it should be sited with this in mind, and not depended on as a feature plant.

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The tiny, slender, legume-like seed pods may be seen at the base of the central floral cluster. Image: HFN

Corydalis aurea is reportedly very toxic to sheep, and less so to cattle and horses, though I am unaware of any poisoning incidents in our region. Because of the plant’s early emergence, and its palatability – sheep paradoxically find it quite delicious – stock owners might be advised to keep an eye out for this plant when investigating their spring pastures before turnout.

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Palmate Coltsfoot - Petasites frigidus var. palmatus - Van Dusen Garden, Vancouver, B.C. - April 8, 2014.

Palmate Coltsfoot – Petasites frigidus var. palmatus – Van Dusen Garden, Vancouver, B.C. – April 8, 2014. Image: HFN

 

Perennial. Zone 2. Asteraceae. (Syn. Compositae.) Widespread through Western North America. Common to wet coniferous forest and subalpine regions of B.C. A.k.a. Arctic Sweet Coltsfoot.

Lewis J. Clark, in Wild Flowers of British Columbia, 1973:

Petasites derives from the Greek petasos, a broad-rimmed hat, which describes the wide basal leaves. Palmatus (is) from the large hand-shaped leaves…

Most Composites bloom late in the year, but the Colt’s Foot pushes its thick stem through the ground at the beginning of March, sometimes while snow still lingers. Soon the rapidly lengthening shoot displays a heavy, flattened cluster of purplish (sometimes white, rarely yellow) flower-heads. These are of two kinds, the staminate soon withering. The pistillate-heads usually have a few short ray-florets. By early summer they are succeeded by clusters of achenes whose radiating pappus recall a very large, but flattened, Dandelion “puff”.

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Petasites frigidus var. palmatus – close-up of pistillate heads. Image: HFN

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Palmate Coltsfoot – Van Dusen Garden – April 8, 2014. Image: HFN

This species is very similar to Sweet Coltsfoot, Petasites frigidus var. nivalis, and as the ranges overlap, hybridization often occurs, making positive identification something of a challenge.

No matter what the details of nomenclature, the native Petasites found throughout the Cariboo are quietly spectacular in a low-growing, botanically interesting sort of way, being among the earliest bloomers and a sign of the start of the brief but intense growing season proper.

These plants happily grow in the garden, being most suited to moist wild gardens and boggy areas. They do spread vigorously where happy via underground rhizomes, so that is something to keep in mind when siting.

Coltsfoot is reported to be attractive to early foraging bees and other pollinating insects.

Ethnobotanical uses of Palmate Coltsfoot (and its relations) include flowering stalks and young leaves being used as an early “potherb”, no doubt highly welcome after a long winter of no fresh greens. According to the field guide Plants of Northern British Columbia (MacKinnon, Pojar and Coupé, 1992), Petasites leaves were used to cover berries in steam-cooking pits. Medicinal uses were widespread, with decoctions used to treat chest and respiratory ailments, as well as externally applied to treat rheumatism.

An interesting use which I have seen referred to in several places is the value of the plant as a salt substitute, either as an addition to stews, or from the ashes of the burned leaves.

As with any medicinal or culinary use of plants, it is best to be cautious about consuming or applying anything one is not familiar with; the above uses are provided merely as historical notes and not recommendations or suggestions. Petasites species contain alkaloids which may cause liver damage when ingested.

Palmate Coltsfoot at UBC Botanical Garden, April 8, 2014. This population shows the rosy colour variation.

Palmate Coltsfoot at UBC Botanical Garden, April 8, 2014. This population shows the rosy colour variation. Image: HFN

Newly emerging foliage in the background - notice the "palmate" form of the "hand-like" leaves. UBC Botanical Garden, April 8, 2014.

Newly emerging foliage in the background – notice the “palmate” form of the “hand-like” leaves. UBC Botanical Garden, April 8, 2014. Image: HFN

Close-up of flower cluster. UBC Botanical Garden, April 8, 2014.

Close-up of flower cluster. UBC Botanical Garden, April 8, 2014. Image: HFN

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Sweet Coltsfoot - Petasites frigidus var. nivalis - near Tyee Lake, B.C., May 9, 2014.

Sweet Coltsfoot – Petasites frigidus var. nivalis – near Tyee Lake, B.C., May 9, 2014. Image: HFN

Perennial. Zone 2. Asteraceae. (Syn. Compositae.) Widespread through Western North America. Common to wet coniferous forest and subalpine regions of B.C. A.k.a. Alpine Coltsfoot, Arctic Butterbur.

With the departure of the last of the sodden winter snow and the first faint flush of green as plants awake from their long dormancy, the sudden appearance of the exotic-looking coltsfoot bloom stems is a welcome surprise to the keen native plant gardener or roving botanist.

Thick, fleshy stems appear, lined with bract-like leaves and topped by clusters of densely packed disc flowers. Plants are either male, with all disk flowers, or female, with ray as well as disk flowers, as in the photo above. This plant’s membership in the Composite Family (think sunflowers, Helianthus annuus, as the poster child of the composites with well-differentiated ray and disk flowers in a single head) is very obvious once one takes a close look at the flower structure, and especially when the feathery, dandelion-like seeds start to mature.

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Image: HFN

Blooms are most frequently white, but can be shades of pink, and occasionally a deep ivory-yellow.

Leaves appear a few weeks after the bloom stems, and as they often arise at some distance from the flowers due to the plant’s extended underground rhizomatous root system they are often  not associated with the flowers. Many of the Petasites have massive foliage – the leaves of the vigorous Japanese Butterbur, Petasites japonicus, easily reaching 2 feet across, and those of another common British Columbia species, P. palmatus, often reaching a foot wide – but P. frigidus var. nivalis is a more modest creature, with glossy, deeply wrinkled, raggedly toothed, grape-like leaves only 6 to 8 inches across.

The common name “coltsfoot” arise, according to Lewis J. Clark, from the appearance of the leaves, rather than the flowers:

Soon after the appearance of the flowering stems, stout leaf-shoots emerge. They are folded in an extraordinary manner, with the hairy lobes reflexed, at an early stage evoking the metaphor of the little foot of a colt.

Sweet Coltsfoot is often found in wet locations, thriving in boggy areas and on stream and lake edges. It is something of a spreader, forming thriving colonies where happy, and is occasionally seen as a happily domesticated “tamed wildflower” in bog and woodland gardens.

Typical habitat of Petasites frigidus var. nivalis, along a boggy lakeshore.

Typical habitat of Petasites frigidus var. nivalis, along a boggy lakeshore. Image: HFN

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Spring's first flowers - Sagebrush Buttercups on the Hill Farm hillside, April 16, 2014.

Spring’s first flowers – Sagebrush Buttercups on the Hill Farm hillside, April 16, 2014. Image: HFN

Perennial. Zone 2. Ranunculaceae. Western North America. Interior and subalpine regions of B.C. and Alberta and into Saskatchewan; in the U.S.A. south to New Mexico, and east to North and South Dakota and Nebraska.

As the snow recedes from our river-valley hillsides each spring we eagerly kneel on the snowmelt-soggy ground to check on the state of the sagebrush buttercups. First of the spring flowers by far, blooming as soon as late March, their opening signals the very beginning of the progression of other springtime markers – the first returning Canada geese; the first robins and bluebirds; the appearance of the pollen-dusted catkins of the poplar tress and then the cottonwoods; the first evocative smell of “green” after a spring rainfall; the first day the horses leave their hay piles untouched and instead nuzzle through last autumn’s rustling fallen foliage for those first elusive but oh-so-welcome blades of grass…

We’ve made it through another cold time, for look, here are the buttercups again!

This is a tiny creature, but its cheerful blossoms shine like the sun, and a flourishing colony in full bloom is an amazing sight in late April and early May.

The specific name glaberrimus means “smoothest”, and refers to the foliage: freshly green, gently lobed, and slightly succulent. Purple-flushed flower buds appear on short stems which lengthen as the flowers open to a height of perhaps six inches at the utmost; most are only three or four inches tall. Five-petalled buttercups are typical of their race, being reflectively shiny as to petal surface, with a ring of thick yellow anthers surrounding the protruding cluster of pistils – potential achenes which will mature into ripe seeds in May and June.

Clusters of shallowly anchored, thickened, semi-tuberous roots provide the stored energy for R. glaberrimus‘s early spring flourishing; plants remain green through the entire growing season, and an investigation in autumn reveals the next spring’s buds already formed in the leaf axils at the base of the foliage; ready for emergence after a winter dormancy under the snow.

Enjoy this buttercup on your spring rambles; it is locally abundant throughout the Cariboo-Chilcotin, especially along roadsides through the Fraser River valley’s Douglas fir belt, and in the grasslands around Williams Lake.

Though I have never been tempted to bring this pretty wildflower into my own garden – it is happily abundant on the grassy hillsides of our farm and makes an ideal excuse for many springtime excursions to check on the progression of the colonies’ blooming – I have seen it established in a number of alpine gardens where it thrives generously, for it appears to be a healthy and adaptable plant.

Full sun suits Ranunculus glaberrimus best if its natural habitat is any indication, and it is very drought tolerant once established, though it appreciates springtime moisture.

Though technically Ranunculus glaberrimus has five petals, some populations show a tendency to producing extras, doubling or tripling the modest prototype.

Though technically Ranunculus glaberrimus has five petals, some populations show a tendency to producing extras, doubling or even tripling the modest prototype. Image: HFN

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Image: HFN

 

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Low Larkspur growing on grassy dry sidehills along the Chilcotin River at Farwell Canyon, near Riske Creek, B.C., May 13, 2010. Note contrasting violet veining on the cobalt blue petals.

Perennial. Zone 2. Ranunculaceae. Western North America, from California north to southern third of British Columbia, and eastwards to southern Sakatchewan, South Dakota and Wyoming. Abundant in areas of the eastern Rocky Mountain foothills.  A widely variable species, from alpine forms only a few inches tall to grassland individuals reaching 18″ or taller, D. bicolor is now sometimes classified as D. nuttallianum, with regional subspecies.

This low-growing spring-blooming flower is frequently found on the dry hillsides and grasslands of the Cariboo-Chilcotin, especially along the Fraser River corridor in the dryland fir and sagebrush belt. Though a close relative of the tall garden delphiniums and larkspurs, as flower form and colour show, this is a much more petite thing, growing from 6″ to 18″ or so in height, and blooming briefly in April and May.

Lewis J. Clark calls it

…A small but showy species, inhabiting Bunch-grass and Ponderosa Pine country from Osoyoos to the Rockies.

At Macalister, just south of Quesnel on the Fraser River, we are at the northern limit of its grassland range, though variant populations have been reported in subalpine regions northwest of Prince George.

Low Larkspur is a tuberous rooted plant, which frequently behaves like a summer ephemeral. Slender bloom stalks appear in earliest spring, the flowers expand and are pollinated by butterflies and long-proboscissed bumblebees, and the finely divided foliage then withers on the stems, with the plant fading away into the surrounding vegetation, leaving clusters of innocuous yellow seed capsules in place of the cobalt and purple-blue blossoms.

On our own dry and rocky Fraser River hillside, this lovely larkspur blooms in early May alongside golden Arnica, creamy Heuchera cylindrica, sulphur-yellow Lithopspermum ruderale, and rosy-flowered Geum triflorum – a rewarding palette of contrasting wild colour for the springtime rambler to enjoy.

Despite its great beauty there is a sinister side to this gorgeous flower. In its spring growth phase, D. bicolor (and, incidentally, all of its relatives) is highly toxic to cattle. Because its foliage turns green before many of the rangeland grasses, browsing cattle sometimes seek it out, and there are numerous well-documented cases of mass bovine fatalities in regions where wild larkspur is abundant. By seed stage the toxicity has greatly abated; in our region this generally coincides with range turnout, and I am not personally familiar with toxicity episodes in the Cariboo-Chilcotin, though when I was working on a ranch in the Alberta foothills it was a very real concern for local cattlemen during spring turnout. Interestingly enough, the toxic effect seems specific only to cattle; sheep and wild browsers appear to be unaffected, and sheep have been used to eliminate the plant in some areas where bovine larkspur poisonings are of particular concern.

Low Larkspur moves happily into the cultivated garden, but with its delicate habit and summer dormancy it is best planted in an alpine bed, or among grasses, where conditions mimic those found in its natural habitat. I do not generally condone transplanting of wildflowers into the garden, but the collection of a modest quantity of mature seed in midsummer – being sure to scatter some about; never collect the entire contents of a plant’s seed capsules – should in no way impact our local populations. Sow immediately, preferably in a nursery bed, and look for seedlings the following spring, as many of the Ranunculaceae family (of which D. bicolor is a member) require a winter stratification period to trigger germination.

Sun; average conditions; tolerates summer drought.

This and following photos were all taken in the same area of the Chilcotin, at Farwell Canyon. Note the variability of the flowers even within this small population. May 13, 2010.

This and following photos were all taken in the same area of the Chilcotin, at Farwell Canyon. Note the variability of the flowers even within this small population. May 13, 2010.

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Hooked spurs and contrasting “bee” petals are nicely portrayed here. Some individuals are also intricately veined with bright violet – as in the first photo at the top of this post – which is the inspiration of the species name, “bicolor”.

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The entire plant is finely pubescent, with the central “bees” being prominently hairy. Note the long spurs, which are often hooked. The nectary is so deep and narrow that only certain insects – most notable butterflies and native bumblebees – are able to access the nectar.

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