Learning the Wildflowers of Nahanni

Willowherb, dryas, bog laurel, paintbrush and arnica. For all the grandeur of the landscapes we travel some of the most captivating beauty to be found is often right at our feet. Each watershed has its specific list of species but none lack in variety or volume of colour.

 Walking through fields of colour in the Tatshenshini watershed.

Walking through fields of colour in the Tatshenshini watershed.

Delicate Poppies making an appearance in the high country of Nahanni National Park Reserve.

 The purple of vetch highlights riverbanks on many Northern rivers.

The purple of vetch highlights riverbanks on many Northern rivers.

Early season trips on the Nahanni show gravel bars covered in yellow dryas. A few weeks later the purple hues of willowherb take over and as we move through the high country are treated to bright displays. A short hike from the river often presents dozens of species. Accompanied by a guide book from our library (a great resource available on all our expeditions) a keen eye can quickly spot cinque-foil, grass of parnassus and more. Prickly Rose is ubiquitous and as expedition season continues to unfold we are shown the delicate beauty of Arctic poppies and yarrow.

If you are seeking to maximize your chance to see these natural wonders speak today with Guest Services and they can help you choose and plan the right expedition.

The following list of flowers is sourced from the excellent Nahanni River resource “Nahanni: The River Guide” by Peter Jowett.

Flowering Plants of the Nahanni

Scientific Name Common Name Colour - When in Flower
Allium schoenoprasum Wild Onion purple, late June to July
Smilacina stellata False Solomon’s Seal cream, mid-May to mid-June
Veratrum eschscholtzii False Helibore yellow-green, July to August
Zygadenus elegans White Camas creamy green, May to August
Calypso bulbosa Venus Slipper pink, late June to August
Corallorhiza trifida Pale Coralroot yellow-green, May to June
Cypripedium calceolus Yellow Lady’s Slipper yellow, mid-June to early July
Cypripedium passerinum Northern Lady’s Slipper white with purple dots inside, mid-July
Habenaria hyperborea Northern Green Orchid yellow-green to green with yellow, late June to mid-July
Habenaria obtusata Northern Bog Orchid greenish white, late June to mid-July
Orchis rotundifolia Round-leaved Orchid look like angels in purple dotted white robes, mid-June to early July
Listera borealis Northern Tway Blade yellow-green, July & August
Spiranthes romanzoffinana Lady’s Tresses white, July & August
Chenopodium capitatum Strawberry Blight red, July to August
Claytonia Ianceolata Spring Beauty white to pale pink, late April to late June
Silene acaulis Moss Campion pink, mid-June to early August
Nuphar variegatum Yellow Pond Lily yellow, June to July
Aconitum delphinifolium Monkshood deep blue-purple, late June to July
Actea Rubra Baneberry white, late May to June
Anemone drummondii Drummond’s Anemone creamy white, late May to late June
Aquilegia brevistyla Blue Colombine blue-mauve-purple with white trim, June to July
Delphinium glaucum Tall Larkspur deep blue-purple, mid-July to mid-August
Anemone patens Prairie Crocus pale blue to pale purple with yellow centre, late March to mid-May
Ranuculus eschscholtzii Alpine Buttercup yellow with green centre, late June to early August
Ranuculus gmelinii Yellow Water Crowfoot yellow, July
Papaver keelei Poppy yellow to orange, July & August
Drosera angelica Sundew white, mid-May to mid-July
Mitella nuda Mitrewort yellow-green stars, late June to mid-May
Parnassia fimbriata Grass-of-Parnassus white, July & August
Saxifraga aizoides Yellow Mountain Saxifrage yellow, June to July
Saxifraga cernus Nodding Saxifrage white, mid-July
Saxifraga tricuspidata Prickly Saxifrage white, late June & July
Amelanchier alnifolia Saskatoon white, late May to early July
Dryas alaskensis Yellow Dryad yellow, June to early July
Dryas integrifolia White Dryad white, mid-June to early August
Dryas punctata Mountain Avens white, mid-June to August
Frageria virginiana Strawberry white with yellow centre, June to July
Potentilla fruticosa Shrubby Cinquefoil yellow, late June to early September
Rosa acicularis Prickly Rose pink, purple, or white, late May to early August
Rubus acaulis Cloudberry white, mid-June
Astragalus alpinus Alpine Vetch blue, June & July
Hedysarum alpinus Liquorice Root pale pink, late June to early August
Lupinus arcticus Lupine blue to lavender, late June to early August
Epilobium angustifolium Fireweed pink, mid-July to late August
Epilobium latifolium Broad-leaved Willowherb pink, mid-July to late August
Cornus canadensis Bunchberry white, late June to early July
Pyrola gradifolia Arctic Wintergreen pink, July to August
Pyrola secunda One-sided Wintergreen greenish white, mid-July to early August
Kalmia polifolia Bog Laurel pink, late June to July
Phyllodoce empetrifolium Pink Heather pink, July & August
Rhododendron lapponicum Lapland Rose Bay purple to pink, July to August
Androsace chamaejasme Rock Jasmine white, mid-May to early July
Mertensia paniculata Bluebell blue, late June to mid-July
Myosotis alpestris Forget-me-not blue, July
Castilleja miniata Indian Paintbrush red, yellow and white, June to late July
Veronica wormskjoldii Alpine Speedwell dark blue, July
Linnaea borealis Twinflower white to pale pink, late June to late July
Campanula lasiocarpa Alpine Harebell blue, July & August
Lobelia kalmii Lobelia blue to purple, mid-July to early August