Last night, I attended Ron Long’s extended presentation on “Pink Mountain Revisited — The Conservation Crisis That No One Is Aware Of”. For local readers of BPotD, Ron will be giving a shorter version of the lecture on Monday at noon here at the Garden. I encourage you to attend to get informed about the industrial threats to this special area.
I visited Pink Mountain last year in mid-June with Ron. The species in today’s photograph, northern Jacob’s-ladder, is one of ten British Columbian blue-listed species (and one-red listed) of vascular plants identified to-date from Pink Mountain. It is my understanding that no site identified as-yet north of the 50th parallel in British Columbia has as many threatened and endangered species in so small an area (the border with the US on mainland British Columbia is the 49th parallel). This area, though, is a candidate for a wind farm — meaning (in part) widening and improvement of roads to transport the materials and concrete needed to create the concrete slabs for supporting the turbines. Ron remained in the area for weeks after I had to return to work, and witnessed a construction crew (there to re-install a wind-speed test tower) decimate (in the literal sense) a population of blue-listed Ranunculus pedatifidus subsp. affinis through the parking of heavy equipment.
Road improvement and widening is a direct threat to the populations of Polemonium boreale on Pink Mountain, as very few (any?) individuals can be found more than 5m (16ft.) distant from the edge of the road. Unfortunately, the road typically follows the highest ridge where the soil layer is at its thinnest and where Polemonium boreale thrives in the gravelly substrate.
Despite its rarity in British Columbia, Polemonium boreale is stable as a species world-wide, with a panarctic distribution (Canada, Alaska, Russia, Greenland and Norway), including Svalbard: Polemonium boreale.
Polemonium boreale is a low-growing perennial, perhaps reaching 30cm tall. If I recall correctly, a quick way to tell it apart from the nearby Polemonium acutiflorum when not in flower was that the foliage did not have a skunky smell if the leaves were lightly pressed between one’s fingers (or perhaps it was the other way around). When in flower, the tips of the corolla lobes of Polemonium boreale are rounded with more apparent colour venation on the surface than those of the pointy-tipped Polemonium acutiflorum.
Additional photographs are available from the Toolik-Arctic Geobotanical Atlas: Polemonium boreale.