June is typically thought of as the peak blooming period for alpine flowers here in the White Mountains. While it is true that you won't find diapensia or alpine azalea in bloom past June, the mountainsides are far from barren at the end of the summer. On a hike up Huntington Ravine yesterday I was delighted to find a garden of later blooming alpine flowers nestled along the banks of alpine streams. Yellows, purples, and whites decorate the ravines above treeline. Here is a guide to what is still blooming on the slopes of Mount Washington... so grab your pack, lace up the boots, and enjoy the last few weeks of summer up in the mountains!
Arnica (Arnica lanceolata)
Widely distributed across the United States and Canada, arnica is found predominately in alpine ravines. Its leaves and stem are hairy and the leaves are variable.
Mountain aster (Aster crenifolius)
Mountain aster is found in moist alpine and subalpine areas. The high peaks of New England represent the southern most range for this flower. It is more commonly found north to Labrador. The stem and leaves are hairy and narrow leafy bracts surround the flower head.
to Newfoundland, and they are also found in Asia and in the Alps. The nodding bell shaped flower is supported by a thin stem. Round leaves are found at the base of the plant.
Alpine willow-herb (Epilobium hornemanii)
The alpine willow herb is trully an artic plant. Its range extends north to artic North America and Eurasia. It is found in alpine ravines and streamsides. It is identified by its small pink flowers, long seedpods, and opposite toothed leaves.
Northern meadowsweet (Spiraea latifolia)
Northern meadowsweet is a shrub found at all mountain elevations, and its range extends south to Virginia and north to Labrador. The alpine variety boasts a shorter and more compact flower head, and is found in ravines and meadows. It is a member of the rose family.