New bloom rises, Revelstoke wildflower festival returns

Hippy heads.Hippy heads.
Subalpine daisy.Subalpine daisy.
A pollinator on false hellebore. This is one of many wildflowers that can be found in Mt. Revelstoke National Park. (Tim van der Krogt-Revelstoke Review)A pollinator on false hellebore. This is one of many wildflowers that can be found in Mt. Revelstoke National Park. (Tim van der Krogt-Revelstoke Review)
Verena Blasy and Carly KublicVerena Blasy and Carly Kublic

Wild Flowers and Revelfolk share a historic bond. An appreciation for the vibrant alpine meadows is what led Revefolk of the past to build trails and roads, and later convince the government to designate the mountain as a national park.

Every summer, a patchwork of new life springs up in the unique alpine ecosystems that watch over us. What better way to celebrate our appreciation for wildflowers than getting involved in the Revelstoke Wildflower Festival

“It’s nice that you can hike up here and still see things,” said Parks Canada botanist Verena Blasy, as she trudged along a smoky trail normally surrounded by stunning mountain vistas.

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The flower season is short and dictated by weather, changing from year to year. Early season flowers — like the glacier lily — bloom first before seeding, as other species begin to blossom.

“The leaves of the glacier lily are edible and really tasty, but obviously we don’t pick plants in the park,” said Blasy, adding that the bulbs are also edible when cooked.

“There’s even been examples of grizzly bears digging them up, leaving them in the sun and then coming back and eating them a few days later.”

Many flowering plants have adapted to live in the harsh environment where snow blankets the ground for most of the year. Plants like the partridge foot grow low to the ground to escape the alpine winds and capture the Earth’s warmth. Others like the arctic lupin develop fur-like hairs to keep itself warm. Or perhaps most impressively the River Beauty, with its adaptation allowing it to completely freeze, thaw out and continue on unharmed.

In a previous article by the Revelstoke Review, Melissa Hemphill, the food security coordinator for the city, explained that there are over 250 species of wild bees in the Revelstoke area. These bees alongside other pollinators — like hummingbirds and flies — work hard during the summer months, hunting for nectar and poplin amongst the bloomage.

“Have you heard of pika? They’re a small mammal closely related to rabbits,” said Blasy. “They collect wildflowers through the summer. You’ll often see them running around with little bouquet’s in their mouths.”

The pika relies on the wildflower boom each year, collecting flowers and stockpiling them for food through the winter.

“Sometimes if they run out of food they’ll go to their neighbour’s stockpile and steal theirs,” said Blasy.

Blasy said that her favourite wildflower was either the River Beauty or the Hippy head, which after moving on to seeding, resembles the hairdos of the 1970s.

“Yeah, I think mine are the hippy heads too,” said Carly Kublic, a summer student with Parks Canada. “They just look like they’re hanging out, having a good time and connecting with the Earth.”

Revelstoke’s wildflower festival takes place from July 31 to Aug. 8. The full schedule and list of events is online.

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