In my last post I wrote about Arrow-leaved Balsamroot, the most obvious flower in bloom at August Lake near Princeton, British Columbia. While I have to admit that the fields of beautiful yellow sunflowers were captivating there were a number of other smaller flowers in bloom that were just as striking.
One of the most distinctive plants around August Lake was Holbell’s Rockcress (Arabis holboellii). This member of Brassicaceae (Mustard Family) small white flowers clustered along the top of the stem. The seedpods of the plant have an unusual appearance and hang downward on short stalks. It’s hard to describe but the entire effect is sort of like a tall, thin plant draped in smooth dangling tassels.
Another plant in bloom on the hillsides above August Lake was the Few-flowered Shooting Star (Dodecatheon pulchellum). A number of purple-lavender flowers nod downward from the top of a single stalk that emerges from a basal rosette of lance- to spatula-shaped leaves. The common name of the plant refers to the resemblance of the flowers to “shooting stars,” the black and yellow tips pointing toward the earth with the purple petals streaming out behind it.
The deep blue flowers of Early Blue Violet (Viola adunca) were also out in bloom. This delicate little spring violet has oval to heart shaped leaves with round-toothed edges. It is quite small and easily missed. Look for it dry open meadows and forests. I’ve also found it growing on Vancouver Island at the bluffs along Buttle Lake in Strathcona Provincial Park.
Finally, Squaw Currant (Ribes cereum) was in flower as well. The greenish-white tube-like flowers and kidney shaped leaves make this Okanagan shrub easy to identify. The branches of this currant do not have thorns although younger branches can have fine sticky hairs. The berries of this currant aren’t considered especially palatable.
These were just a few of the flowers we enjoyed at August Lake. It was pleasurable to become reacquainted with these flowers and reconnect with the dry South Okanagan landscape. Sometimes it’s worth taking the time to search for the smaller and less showy flowers that often reveal their beauty when one looks closely.