Species Profile: Bog Star

The close up of this Parnassia plant (Parnassia palustris) in flower is the sole focus of this week’s selected photograph. We can see why this is commonly called the “Bog Star”: the simple radiant white coloration sets it far apart from the dark browns and greens of its surroundings. Bruce McKay, the photographer, has made the strategic choice of a large aperture to enhance the way this bloom calls our attention. The flower sits on top of a solitary upright stem and the foliage is nearly all basal, making this plants’ five white petals a showy display along wet ground.

If you are on a wetland tour or hike between July and September, you may be lucky enough to see this unmistakable bloom. It can be found within fens, wet moorland, raised bogs, marshes, shores, stream banks, and wet meadows all the way up to the alpine zone. The reason that our pictured Bog Star is of the variety palustris is that it is a true wetland resident: the name translates from latin to “boggy” or “marshy”. There are, however, four native varieties of Parnassia found in BC and all prefer wetland habitat. Another variety, the Parnassia fimbriata, is more commonly found around Northern BC and the Rocky mountains and has lovely fringed petals.

The Northern Grass of Parnassus is circumboreal, meaning that it is found across much of our country along our vast boreal forest. In British Columbia, the boreal region is largely to the east (along the Kootenays) and the north near the Alaska & Yukon border where this photograph was taken. This tiny flower was spotted on the Lower Post Indian Reserve (Kaska Nation), about 7 kms south of the BC-Yukon boundary. The area is just off the Alaska Highway and the Laird River, whose headwaters are in the Yukon and whose snaking body stretches across the northern part of our province before draining in Northwest Territories. The Laird River Valley is a unique area to British Columbia for many reasons, including its importance to our province’s largest and one of our rarest land animals, the wild Bison. Moose can also be found within the warm water swamps of Laird River Hot Springs Park.

We thank Bruce McKay of Yellow Snow Photography for giving us this unobstructed view of the lovely wetland flower. Be sure to visit his photo blog and website dedicated to the images he creates in Northern BC & the Yukon.

Our Flickr photo group is growing much larger and now boasts 44 members, many of whom are continually submitting their beautiful wetland images! If you have photographs that you would like to share with our group, ensure that you have a Flickr account and add your images. To see what we’re looking for, visit the collection of Photo of the week winners in our BC Wetlands Photo of the Week Gallery.

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