In early July, my hubby and I hiked up the south face of Ha Ling Peak, a popular trek in Canmore, Alberta (located about 105 km west of Calgary). You can climb the peak on the north side, but we’re hardly that intrepid! 🙂 As it was, the elevation gain of 700 m was plenty enough for an utter lazy bones like me to tackle, and the multiple stops for water and to catch my breath afforded me the chance to do some wildflower hunting. Near the summit, growing in the gravelly scree and heavy rocks at almost 2,407 m, we spotted this gem, Sedum rosea (aka Tolmachevia integrifolia):
According to the resource Wildflowers of the Canadian Rockies by George W. Scotter and Halle Flygare (reprint 2000, Alpine Book Peddlers, Canmore), this perennial is commonly called roseroot – not to be confused with Rhodiola rosea, another roseroot of northern climes that is purported to have all sorts of medicinal benefits. (Of course, it just so happens the two plants are very closely related, and Sedum rosea is/was also known as Rhodiola integrifolia. Having fun yet?) Another common name for Sedum rosea is king’s crown – but it isn’t the same plant as the lovely tropical Justica carnea, which has the same moniker. Ugh! Plant names!
Although the plants we saw possessed only clusters of bright red flowers, the male flowers can be either yellow or red, while the females are always red. Both male and female flowers may be present in each cluster. The plants are small, befitting their alpine setting – the ones we saw were no taller than 10 cm. The succulent leaves are apparently tasty in salads when young, although given that Scott and Flygare list the plant as “rare,” I wouldn’t want to dine on them. (I’m not certain if the plant is rare only in this part of the world, as a site I found out of the States designates them “common”).
And, yes, we did make it to the top of Ha Ling Peak – here are a couple of shots of the incredible view: