The Ink Pots and Flowers

Then there were flowers …

A hike in Banff national Park is always a good experience. There is so much to see and yet so little time. There is one thing I have noticed though, at times it is easier to see the big picture without really seeing the big picture. I am not referring to the picturesque water fountains nor the attention grasping landscapes. I am referring to the many wonderful wildflowers along the trails. They are beauty in themselves. They hide wonderful treasures ready to be found.

And now, without any further a due, here they are!

Common Red Paintbrush – Castilleja miniata

The common red paintbrush wildflower
The Common Red Paintbrush – Castelleja miniata – with its intense red tips.

First up is the Common Red Paintbrush. Often times these wildflowers are found in small groups. The one thing that stands out for me and what I really appreciate about this wildflowers is the red colour of the flower tips. It is a red that really stands out, almost a blood red and yet not quite. These wildflowers are also thought to be semi parasitic. I was curious to know if any Canadian Newspaper has ever published something about these guys. A search on the Calgary Library website revealed that it was mentioned 3 times (that searching for the term “common red paintbrush”). This is how one article described the Common Red Paintbrush:

Artistic types put brush to canvas as a means of capturing nature’s wild blooms but the term “parasite” rarely springs to mind. Enter the common redpaintbrush (Castilleja miniata), a member of the figwort family.
This semi-parasitic perennial glows with bright-red, pointed bracts that truly do resemble a painter’s brush.  Scott, C. (2009, Jun 11). Estuary a top destination for wildflower voyeurs. Campbell River Mirror Retrieved from

Fireweed – Chamerion angustifolium

The Fireweed wildflower
Fireweed with the nice maroon/purple/pink colour.

This wildflower ought to be well known. We find it just about anywhere. And they can grow quite tall – up to 3 meters! Fireweed is also the territorial flower of the Yukon Territory.

Here is a piece of trivia, and I wonder how many of you reading this know this: Fireweed is also the name of a music group by Gary Rasberry, Rob Unger, and Jamie Campbell around 1998. They are a Folk Trio. Crosbie, S. (2001, Mar 08). Musicians like to relax by fireweed. Kingston Whig – Standard Retrieved from

Unknown Wildflower … but I think it is …

Wildflower with white petals and stamens coming right at you.
A wild strawberry
A wildflower with 5 white petals
Unknown Wildflower, but I think it is a wild strawberry.

A wild strawberry. I learned a valuable lesson after I took the pictures … take a picture of the whole flower so it is easier to identify.

Nonetheless, there are two things I like about these pictures. The one on the right: It looks like the stamens are coming directly at you, just the way it would on an alien planet. The one on the right: I love the shadows of the stamens on the white petals.

One-sided Wintergreen

One-sided wintergreen on the trail
A close up off One-Sided Wintergreen
One-sided Wintergreen on the trail
The flowers of the One-sided Wintergreen


The one thing I do appreciate in doing this photo shoot is that i took the time to look up the names of the different flowers. Don’t laugh, but I first though these guys were a species of orchids. I know, the ignorance of the youth. But I learned and now I know. These wildflowers are quite elegant. And perhaps here is something you did not know: the Chippewa would mashed the leaves of the one-sided wintergreen and then mix it with lard to make a salve. This salve promoted the healing of cuts. And the leaves were also used to relieve toothaches.

Twin Flower – Linnaea borealis

Four twin flowers pointing down.
Twin flowers that appear to be looking down.

If you would like information on the Twin Flower, I am afraid you would be out of luck. At least, I did not find much information about this flower. What I will say though is that they are quite small and often times I found them in groups. The only interesting fact I could find is that this wildflower is a member of the honeysuckle family.

Yellow Columbine – Aquilegia flavescens

A Yellow Columbine with a black and white background.
A Yellow Columbine – Aquilegia flavescens – with a change in the background to black and white
This is a close-up of a Yellow Columbine
A yellow Columbine – Aquilegia Flavescens – a healthy snack on the trail.

Of all the wildflowers on the trail the yellow columbine was my favourite. They are part of the buttercup family. It seems that these wildflowers are your friends when you are hungry. The young leaves of the yellow columbine make a good addition to salads. When the young leaves are steamed they taste like snow peas. And, perhaps, best of all, the flowers make a great trail snack.

Heart-leaved Arnica – Arnica cordofolia

The Heart-leaved Arnica was very beautiful throughout the walk. Perhaps you do know this; however, for those who don’t, early pioneers made a liniment from arnica and rubbing alcohol to reduce inflammation of muscles, joint, and sprains.

Another yellow heart-leaved Arnica
Yellow Heart-leaved Arnica.
A yellow heart-leaved arnica
A yellow Heart-leaved Arnica shining Brightly
A close up of a yellow Heart-leaved Arnica
Yellow Heart-Leaved Arnica









White Camas – Zigadenus elegans

A white Camas with an insect
White Camas with insect

I would like to call this wildflower “a walk on the wildside.” It is pretty. Yet, slightly poisonous to humans and livestock. And it is said that large doses of this beauty can be lethal.

And them there was the odd one out – Coral Fungi

A yellow coral Fungus
Yellow coral Fungi

There is one in every crowd, one that stands out. We did see a few mushrooms. This one was the one that stood out – a coral mushroom.

And so, a walk ended …

Well, there were quite a few other wildflowers on the way. Including them would make this a very long post. Perhaps the Posts about trails will evolve. As I typed a few themes came to mind such as: Seeds, leaves (especially veins on leaves), colour, shadows, petals, stamens, insects, dew, interesting facts about the plants, and perhaps a search in newspapers. After all, who knew that a folk group in Ontario was named after Fireweed.


Till next time …


  1. It was an amazing hike!

  2. Terry Hagen

    Quite a collection of photos. Excellent shots with some interesting information to go with them.

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