Alpine Collomia

Collomia debilis
POLEMONIACEAE, The Phlox family

Originally uploaded by mulysa_may

This adorable cushion plant with blue pollen grows between 7200 and 8300 ft. elevation on Mt. Adams. It tucks itself into rocky pockets on gravel beds where it gets short but frequent waterings from the clouds that hover around the mountain top. It is probably under snow from at least October through May.

Alpine plants grow in low mats to protect themselves from wind and ensure they are insulated by snow cover in winter. From a distance, Mt. Adams looks like barren grey rock above the tree line. But there are plants growing right up to the base of the glaciers.

Because of the short growing season, everything blooms at once, and it is busy with many kinds of bees and butterflies. And hummingbirds! We saw Rufous and Anna’s hummers. They hovered around us at different points along the hike, and we thought they were friendly and curious about the bright colors on our gear. Then it occurred to me that they might also be taking advantage of the swarm of gnats and mosquitos we trailed along with us.

About Mulysa

I love my work as a landscape designer and artist. When I'm not planning homesteads or working in the studio, you'll find me hiking, photographing, gardening, baking, cooking vegetarian meals with friends, reading and working on sustainability issues...with my baby on my hip in Portland, Oregon.
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