Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Fireweed at Lake Louise

Photo: fireweed at Lake Louise Alberta. The glacier can be glimpsed behind the clump, at the far end of the lake. CT August 2012

Among the first plant to fill in after a fire has swept through a forest is the attractive wildflower called fireweed: hence its name.

In logged off areas, fireweed appears, swift and merciful, to fill in the "slash" with new life. Fireweed blooms from the bottom upward; blooms appear higher up the flower spike as those at the bottom fade. The opening of the top blooms is a harbinger of autumn.

The two firewood photos were taken only days apart. The difference is due to altitudes and climate zones.

Lake Louise, high in the Rocky Mountains near the continental roof, has a long winter and a short late summer. Thus its fireweed, seen above, is still at the peak of summer beauty.

Valemount is at a much lower elevation in the warmer climate of the BC interior. The fireweed plants on the left are visibly fading in colour as they approach the end of their bloom time while the top petals burst.

Fireweed is the floral emblem of the Yukon Territory.

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