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Dazzling Displays

The month of June is a very extraordinary month on the Carden Alvar. Unique flowers, over 400 species, endure the harshness of Alvar conditions and peak during this month. Their display will not disappoint so be sure to take a camera along if you decide to join one of our tours or if you go on your own.

Prairie smoke (Geum triflorum) is one such plant. Nodding bracts (clusters of flowers) are pink or mauvish in colour concealing a tiny flower. The styles are at the end of the seed heads (achenes) and are wispy. These styles appear like puffs of smoke traveling across the field in the wind, hence its common name, Prairie smoke. Bob's photos and hand-drawn sketches are below.

Photo Credit: Bob Bowles

Prairie Smoke

Rock Sandwort, (Minuartia michauxii) is Bob's favorite plant. This hardy little plant grows on bare limestone, in cracks and crevices of rocks, in full sunlight. There are only a few grains of sand to support its roots. A small, low plant, each flower consisting of 5 white, spreading petals called a floral cup.

Photo Credit: Bob Bowles

Scarlet Painted-Cup (Castilleja coccinea) is another awesome and unique plant. This plant has colour polymorphism, meaning it can be yellow or scarlet, depending on the pollinators. According to Wikipedia:

When pollinators are present, the scarlet C. coccinea tend to have a higher reproductive output, as they have higher seed and fruit set. On the other hand, the yellow C.coccinea would have a higher reproductive output when pollinators are scarce

Photo Credit: J. Crinnion

Scarlet Painted Cup

And one more plant that we hope to see on the Alvar is Cooper's Milkvetch, (Astragalus neglectus). This plant got its name from its discoverer, William Cooper in 1856. Cooper's hawk is also named after William Cooper. The plant is considered to be a rare species. The flowers are pea-like with 10-20 creamy, white flowers forming a loose cluster.

We offer guided tour walks, identifying these magnificent displays of unique flora during the month of June. Please contact us at to find out more and register for a workshop. Our next tour is this Sunday, June 19th starting at 10:00 AM. We hope to see you there.

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Interesting plants and beautifully done sketches. Wow!

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