11 December 2009

Parry's Primrose

As you will see as I continue to post photos from our trip to Colorado in July, the subalpine and alpine meadows were painted with a pallette of pigments and hues of every shade imaginable. The plant featured in this post added a unique splash of magenta to the alluring organic canvas.

This is Parry's Primrose (Primula parryi), a plant of the subalpine and alpine life zones in the Rocky Mountains south of Canada (Strickler 1990). We only saw this member of the family Primulaceae in the subalpine, where it can reach heights of up to nearly 50cm (Kelso 2009); it doesn't get as tall in the vertically challenged alpine, but it still towers over most of the surrounding plants. Parry's Primrose grows in wet and often rocky areas, including bogs, seeps, and wet meadows, as well as along streams and waterfalls; a common place to find Alpine Primrose, as it is also known, is in snowmelt seeps (Guennel 2004; Kelso 2009).

Most of the Parry's Primrose that we saw was along streams through wet meadows, but Lindsay snapped the shot below of this species growing on rocky substrate in mixed forest on the other side of a fast-moving snowmelt stream. The flowers are said to have a pleasant odor at first that becomes skunky as they age (Beidleman et al. 2000; Kelso 2009) or when touched (Southwest Colorado Wildflowers).

Parry's Primrose was first collected by Charles Christopher Parry in 1861 in Colorado; it was named in his honor by Asa Gray in 1862 (Southwest Colorado Wildflowers). Parry returned the favor by naming Gray's Peak on the Front Range of Colorado after Asa Gray.

Beidleman, L.H., R.G. Beidleman, & B.E. Willard. (2000). Plants of Rocky Mountain National Park. Estes Park, Colorado: Rocky Mountain Nature Association; Helena, Montana: Falcoln Publishing, Inc.

Guennel, G.K. (2004). Guide to Colorado Wildflowers, Volume 2: Mountains. Englewood, Colorado: Westcliffe Publishers.

Kelso, S. (2009). Primula. In: Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 15+ vols. New York and Oxford. Vol. 8.

Southwest Colorado Wildflowers. Retrieved December 11, 2009. http://www.swcoloradowildflowers.com/.

Strickler, D. (1990). Alpine Wildflowers: Showy Wildflowers of the Alpine and Subalpine Areas of the Northern Rocky Mountain States. Columbia Falls, Montana: The Flower Press.


Sight Seer said...

Fantastic pictures! I really enjoyed my motorcycle riding, camping and hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Scott said...

Thanks SightSeer. We enjoyed our trip to Colorado so much that we plan to go back for a long weekend annually.