Yellow Lady Slipper, named after Aphrodite’s slipper was in full bloom in Banff National Park last weekend.
I’ve spent countless hours hiking and exploring off trail areas in Banff and this was the first time I have come across this stunning orchid in the park. These orchids are common throughout Canada but are becoming harder to find in certain areas as more people illegally pick the flowers, collect the seeds or try to transplant the entire plant to their backyards. Since this orchid relies on several highly specialized soil fungi to survive, transplants or trying to grow them from seed are rarely if ever successful. Plus few people have the patience to wait over 7 years for the plant to mature enough to produce flowers.
For those that aren’t terrified of spiders, have a closer look and you will see a crab spider, which relies on stealth and potent venom rather than a web to ambush and paralyze their prey. Pollinating insects have to climb into the goddess of love’s slipper to get to the pollen, making these flowers perfect hunting grounds for these spiders. This little spider had just caught lunch when I came across the plant.
Someone loses an eye!
This little chorus frog (no bigger than a few centimeters) saw me coming while on my search for short-horned lizards and fearing that I might be a predator, headed straight for cover by hopping into a cluster of prickly pear cactus plants. Flirting with disaster, it easily maneuvered itself between the spikes in a perfect defense strategy for most would be predators. I quickly snapped off this photo and then left it be so that it could carefully extract itself from the precarious situation.
Spring seems to take a long time in the mountains, but when it does arrive it’s always spectacular. This spring I timed it just right to be in this meadow when the forget me not flowers were in full bloom. It was well worth the year-long wait!
A grizzly cub appears to smile at the site of berries still available for eating in late October. This very spot is now covered in over a meter of snow and her and her family have long since found a den to comfortably sleep away the winter.
As summer comes to an end in the mountains, a field of anemone flowers turns to seed
Fireweed blankets the floor of a burnt forest in Kooteney National Park in British Columbia. The plant is not named because of its association with previously burnt landscapes, but because in autumn the leaves turn a brilliant red-orange colour resembling flames.
I have seen several wood lilies in the Rocky mountain parks but this is the first and only yellow variant I have come across. It was surrounded by the more typical rust coloured form. Unfortunately these plants are becoming more rare as people continue to try to transplant them, with little success, to their gardens.