|KINNIKINNICK Arctostaphylos uva-ursi Kinnikinnick is a low-trailing
or matted, evergreen shrub, rarely more than two feet high, with
long, flattened branches. The woody stems are brownish-red with
flaky bark. The ovate leaves are leathery, shiny and dark green.
Clustered in racemes at the ends of branches are small, waxy,
pale pink, urn-shaped flowers, which later develop into bright
red, pea-sized berries. HABITAT/RANGE: Kinnikinnick typically
occurs on gravel or sand terraces, in coniferous woods, on dry
banks and alpine slopes. It is a circumpolar species found in
North America, from Alaska to Labrador, south to coastal California,
New Mexico and the central and eastern United States. Flowers
April to June. FACTS/USES: The common name, kinnikinnick, is a
word used by Native Americans for tobacco mixtures. The specific
name means bear's grape, referring to the fruits eaten by bears.
The leaves have been used as a direuretic, for bronchitis, gonorrhea,
PRINCE'S-PINE Chimaphlia umbellata The most distinctive characteristics
of this plant are its five-petaled, pinkish, saucer-shaped,
nodding flowers. Ten stamens surrounda prominent green ovary.
The evergreen plant rises four to 12 inches from a branching
rootstock. Arranged in whorls along the stem are leathery, waxy,
elliptic leaves with saw-toothed margins. As the flowers mature
into roundish capsules, bearing numerous small seeds, the pedicels
become erect and the fruite are held upright. HABITAT/ RANGE:
It commonly is found in coniferous woods and on alpine slopes
where it is moist in the spring and dry in the summer. This
circumboreal species is found in the Rocky Mountains, from Alaska
to Alberta, south to New Mexico and California. Flowers from
early to midsummer. FACTS/USES: The specific name means with
umbels. The Greek generic name is derived from the words cheima, for winter, and philos, tor loving, because of its evergreen
LAUREL Kalmia microphylla A small, low evergreen
shrub that seldom grows to more than two feet in height. The leaves
are leathery, lanceolate, smooth, dark green on the upper surface
and whitish green on the lower surface, with rolled-under margins.
The stems terminate in a corymb inflorescence with each flower
on a long, slender, red pedicel. Each deep-pink-colored flower
has five fused petals that form a bowl-shaped corolla. HABITAT/
RANGE: Alpine laurel is primarily a subalpine or alpine plant,
preferring wet mountain meadows and boggy sites. A mountain species
distributed from Alaska to Alberta, south to Colorado and California.
Flowers between June and September, depending on elevation. FACTS/USES:
The specific name is in honor of Peter Kalm, an 18th century student
of Linnaeus who collected plants in America. Alpine laurel is
poisonous to grazing livestock.
LABRADOR-TEA Ledum glandulosum This moderately
tall, stout, evergreen shrub obtains a height of two to five feet.
Clustered at the tips of branches are bright white flowers with
five petals and 10 protruding stamens. The oblong or oval leathery
evergreen leaves are dark green on the upper surface and light-colored
and dotted with tiny golden glands beneath. Flowers form a seed
capsule on a recurving stalk with five cells, which split outward
to disperse seeds. HABITAT/RANGE: Smooth labrador-tea is distributed
from Alaska to British Columbia south to northwestern Wyoming
and Sierra California, but it is mainly a Pacific Coast species.
It typically occurs just below subalpine zones in acidic bogs
or wet areas in the mountains. Blooms during July. FACTS/USES:
The generic name means glandular, referring to the glands on the
stems and leaves. Even though considered poisonous, a related
species, L. groenlandicum, was used as a substitute
for tea in the far North.
HUCKLEBERRY Menziesia ferruginea Fool's huckleberry
may form dense thickets three to six feet tall. The erect shrub
has deciduous, pale green, ovate leaves with waxy margins that
form rosettes at the end of slender branches. Small pinkish urn-shaped
flowers with four lobes hang by short stalks in clusters beneath
the leaves. The fruit is a dry, inedible, four-parted capsule.
Autumn foliage turns a brilliant crimson-orange. HABITAT/RANGE:
Prefers shaded, moist coniferous forests and stream banks from
Alaska to the Rocky Mountain states, south to California. Flowers
during June and July. FACTS/USES: The generic name is in honor
of Archibald Menzies, surgeon and naturalist with the Vancouver
Expedition of 1790-95 and one of the first botanists to collect
plants from the Pacific Northwest. The specific name means rusty
and refers to the rusty-colored glands that cover the plant.
MOUNTAIN-HEATHER Phyiiodoce empetriformis A
dwarf evergreen shrub with short, numerous, linear, needlelike
leaves. The shrub seldom exceeds 20 inches tall. The conspicuous
flowers are deep pink or rose, urn-shaped and clustered in umbels.
HABITAT/RANGE: An inhabitant of moist to wet soils or open rocky
slopes, forests, and higher alpine elevations. It is widely distributed
from Alaska to Alberta, south to Colorado and Central California.
Blooms from late June to early August. FACTS/USES: The Greek generic
name, Phyiiodoce, is that of a sea nymph. The specific
name means empetrum-leaved. Heathers and heaths are attractive
ornamental shrubs. Scottish heaths are a close relative to our
native species. But our native species is difficult to transplant,
and it is nearly impossible to produce flowers on a transplanted
PINEDROPS Pterospora andromedea This plant is
a saprophyte. Lacking chlorophyll, it derives its food from dead
and decaying plant material. The tall, reddish-brown, hairy-glandularstems,
uptothreefeettall, lackleaves and green color. The yellow, bell-like
pendulous flowers are arranged in a widely spaced raceme. The
whole plant turns rusty-brown at maturity and persists as a dried
stalk through the winter. HABITAT/RANGE: It is very dependent
upon the deep humus of coniferous forests, often found under lodge-pole
or ponderosa pines. Distributed from Alaska to Alberta and south
to Mexico and California. Blooms from late June into August. FACTS/USES:
The generic name is derived from the Greek pteron, meaning
wing, and sporos, meaning seed. The seeds of this species
have a netlike wing on one end.
PYROLA Pyrola asarifolia Pink pyrola is a small,
perennial, woodland herb with slender, creeping rhizomes. A stem
eight to 16 inches high arises form a basal rosette of shiny green,
round or kidney-shaped leaves. The pink to purplish five-petaled
flowers are waxy in appearance and hang down in racemes. The style
extends beyond the open petals and curves outward, giving the
appearance of an elephant's trunk. HABITAT/RANGE: Pink pyrola
inhabits moist soils, especially in shaded woods near springs.
Widely distributed across North America from Alaska to Newfoundland
and south to New York, Minnesota, New Mexico and California. Blooms
from late June to early August. FACTS/USES: The Latin generic
name, pyrola, means pear, because the leaves of some species
are somewhat pear-shaped. The specific name, asarifolia, means asarum-leaved.
WINTERGREEN Pyrola secunda These small, coniferous
forest-dwelling flowers ascend two to eight inches from branching,
slender rootstocks and commonly form dense colonies. The small,
bell-shaped, greenish-white flowers are borne in a short, one-sided
raceme, which usually bends gracefully downward. Each flower has
a long style with a knob-like stigma that projects beyond the
corolla. The leaves are a half inch to two and a half inches long,
and are ovate, with minutely scalloped edges. HABITAT/RANGE: One-sided
wintergreen is a dweller of moist, coniferous woods from Alaska
to Newfoundland and the Atlantic Coast, south to Mexico and southern
California. Flowering period: June-August. FACTS/USES: One-sided
Wintergreen's leaves are olive-green and retain their color throughout
winter, as suggested by their common name.
HUCKLEBERRY Vaccinium membranaceum Big huckleberry
is a fairly large shrub ranging from two to four feet in height.
The woody stems are erect and greatly branched with younger, somewhat
angled greenish twigs bearing the elliptic, finely serrated leaves.
The small, inconspicuous, greenish to pink, translucent, pendulous,
urn-shaped flowers are hidden below the leaves. The fruit is a
flattened-globe-shaped berry, which ranges from wine-colored to
nearly black. HABITAT/RANGE: This species prefers northern exposures
of dry or moist sites, sandy or gravelly loams and often can be
the dominant understory of coniferous montane forests. It typically
occurs from Alaska to Michigan and south to Wyoming, Idaho and
northern California. Flowers mid-May to July, with fruits usually
appearing in early August. FACTS/ USES: The berries are an important
food for wildlife, especially bears, and for humans.