Thursday, November 4, 2010

Provincial Post -Alberta

Rosa acicular
The Wild Rose and the Lodgepole Pine

The Wild Rose or the Prickly Rose was adopted by the Province of Alberta in 1930. It is a shrub rose that grows to about five feet tall (1.5 m). True to its name the stems are covered in prickles. The Wild Rose grows throughout the province and is circumpolar to the boreal forest.

The fragrant pink flowers are single, with petals 3-5 cm in size. The blooms last from late May to early August in Alberta, but may bloom for a longer period in warmer climes.
The Wild Rose is fragrant and attractive to bees and other pollinating insects. It puts out red or orange-red hips in the fall that are high in vitamin C.  Jelly, jams, syrup and tea can be all made from the hips. Even the flowers and leaves can be used in teas. The aboriginal peoples of North America used the plant for medicinal treatments of stomach aches and diarrhea. The roots were used in compresses and solutions for sore throats, swellings and nose bleeds.
The plant takes some shade, germinates well by seed  and is moderately resistant to fire (both the plant and the seeds). It is a source of food for many animals in the wild such as deer, moose, bear and rabbits.

Photo courtesy of USDA Forest Service

The Lodgepole Pine has many other common names: Rocky Mountain lodgepole pine, black pine, scrub pine. In Alberta the Pinus contorta is found along the western border with British Columbia. It grows along the west coasts of North America.
 At 30 m high this coniferous tree can live as long as 200 years. It has a thin bark, orange-brown to gray in colour and fine scales. The branches curve upwards and when grown in tight conditions only grow in the top third of the tree. The male cones make the pollen. They are small and reddish green and in late spring fill the air with clouds of pollen.

Lodgepole pine grows in a variety of soils. It is one of the first trees to colonize an area after a fire due to the amount of seed it makes. Large stands are then common and being so crowded are called 'dog hair' stands.
These trees provide excellent habitat and food source for birds like nuthatches and woodpeckers but also for small mammals and insects. Bears will eat the inner bark.
The pine is bothered by certain pests, such as, mountain pine beetle and the pine white butterfly. It is also susceptible to the comandra blister rust.

Lodgepole pine has been used by the First Nations Peoples as poles to support teepees and lodges. It has been a fuel source and has many medicinal uses. A use has been found for almost every part of the tree. Today it is primarily used for timber to make poles and railway ties. The oil, resin and bark are used in commercial cleaners.

           Where the heck is Alberta?



  1. The name prickly rose reminds me of Sleeping Beauty's briar rose.

  2. A very informative post! thanks, I like the rose, i have seen them here although not many

  3. AutumnBelle and fer: Yes, this rose seems to cover quite a distance world wide. I have never seen the rose up close but I prefer prickles to real thorns!

  4. The wild rose is lovely, but my favorite flower is still the mayflower, provincial flower of my childhood home province of Nova Scotia. It has the most delicate perfume. I have fond memories of buying bunches of it at the spring farmers market in Halifax.

  5. Good info on the log pine. They are so statuesque in form. I am surprised how useful they are to the environment and animals.

  6. Jennifer: I don't know the mayflower unless it has other common names I might be familiar with. I will get to Nova Scotia soon.

    gardenwalk: Surprised me too. Nothing like a bit of research to open the eyes.

  7. You know all the time I've spent in Albert, I don't think I've ever see one. Probably won't next time either unless they come out in January!!!