The first spring alpine wildflowers are currently in bloom in the alpine meadows of Mount Washington and the Presidential Range. A hike or drive up the auto road will reveal many of the tiny and hardy wildflowers that are indigenous to the rare alpine habitats of New England. Most of these tiny flowering plants are rare due to the lack of true alpine habitat in New England and the Adirondacks. Some of these flowering plants, such as Moss Campion and Alpine Brook Saxifrage, are only found in a few nooks and crannies above the tree line on Mount Washington and nowhere else in the Eastern U.S. outside of their stronghold in the arctic regions of the globe. Probably the most famous spot for viewing spring Alpine Wildflowers on Mount Washington is the Alpine Garden, and rightfully so. If you venture out into this region on the Alpine Garden Trail, you can reasonably expect to find the tiny, pink blooms of Alpine Azalea, Loiseleuria procumbens, the vivid white blooms of Diapensia, Diapensia lapponica, and the sweet-smelling, fuchsia blossoms of the Lapland Rosebay, Rhododendron lapponicum, a true dwarf species of Rhododendron more commonly found in the Arctic. It's an exciting time to be above treeline if you love flowers! The blooms don't last long however, so time is of the essence if one wishes to observe or photograph these rare beauties.
Photos and text by AMC Naturalist Guide M. Maloney
Moss Campion Silene acaulis, Alpine Azalea, Diapensia