Observing the seasons through flowers

Most of our prairie herbs, shrubs and trees flower in the spring months. Some are still flowering in late July. By mid August most flowers except for asters, goldenrod and several composite flowered ground plants, have finished flowering and are starting to show enlarged seed pods or fruit, some with attractive color patterns.

By mid August this year at the Ministik bird sanctuary and around the east side of Saunders Lake one could spot some of these colorful seed pods along the edge of the just-maintained trail. These include

Fairy bells
Fairy bells
  • Solomon’s seal—maroon strips on green
  • Fairy bells—bright red dime-sized balls
  • Dogbane—long green,  turning bright red, bean-like seed pods from the sweet smelling flowers around a high ridge around a beaver pond experienced in June.

Do the colors help in seeing distribution?

Many leaves of lilies with their characteristic venation were found also.

Within 100 feet of the sign of the Caernarvon Farm at the north east corner of Saunders Lake, we found Jewelweed with its orange flowers—Impatiens capensis Meerb forma citrina (Weath.), according to Grays Manual of Botany (8th ed.). This is the first time I’ve seen it in western Canada.

I would be interested to know if others have seen this in southern Alberta where there may be poison ivy. Sources on the Internet say that you can crush and rub jewelweed over poison ivy contact spots to denature the plant’s uroshiol poison.

Hike to Horseshoe Lake via Ministik Bird Sanctuary

The levelness of this hike was a contrast to last week’s up-and-down scramble where we had dizzying, but impressive views over the Bigstone Creek.

This time our destination was Horseshoe Lake, via the Ministik Bird Sanctuary. Gladys, our hike leader, gave us a short background history.

The eleven of us arrived at the lunch spot early. Our efficiency could only be due to the meticulous and thorough maintenance on the trail carried out by crews in the previous week.


Some of the hikers tried to carry on past the lunch spot. But they returned soon after when they ran up against the luxuriant undergrowth—starting exactly where trail maintenance had stopped.

This hike will go down in memory for the number and variety of mushrooms and fungi. (But where—Oh! where did the dickie birds go?) One mushroom we saw is a “wood apple,” aptly named because it looked for all the world like a brightly coloured gala apple crouched on the ground.

Rose apple and other fungi


Ministik Bird Sanctuary

Ministik Bird Sanctuary

Rose apple fungus



Another rare feature we came across was a peat bog inhabited with plant species that were quite different from the surrounding forest.

Altogether it was an excellent hike with ease of travel, plenty of cooling shade, remarkable botanical features and, of course, congenial company.


Visit our Flickr album to see the rest of the pictures.