Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Platanthera dilatata in the Canadian Rockies
One of the joys of traveling in the Canadian Rockies from mid-June to mid-July is seeing the Bog Candles, so very aptly named, in every wet location along the highway. Driving the Yellowhead Highway we began to see them along the road north of Blue River and saw them again along the road from Tete Jaune Cache all the way to Jasper National Park.
They are often growing by the hundreds and even thousands in open boggy areas and their white flower spikes stand out like candles amid the surrounding vegetation. When one stops to examine them more closely their sweet fragrance is almost overwhelming. They certainly are one of the attractions of what is often a long and tiring drive.
We found two varieties on this trip, the short-spurred Platanthera dilatata var. albiflora (below), and the mid-length spurred var. dilatata, the two varieties often growing and blooming together. The latter is considered to be more common but we found both varieties in abundance. Neither seemed to be more common than the other, though we made no counts.