While the alpine is a harsh environment paradoxically it is also a very fragile one. Plants here are all perennials because the growing season is short and few annuals can complete their life cycles during one short season (ref. Strickler). Grasses, sedges and rushes make up about one-third of the flora (ref. Biek). Revegetation and regeneration are not so easy as in the lower zones due to poorer soil nutrients, wind and soil erosion, intense sunlight and often lack of moisture. Special care must be taken if there is reason to meander off of established trails and boot paths, particularly in the pumice flats, so as not to provide another obstacle to survival.

Little low growing clumps often provide the biggest surprises in the alpine zone. The dense little clusters of pink and white flowers of Alpine Buckwheat and Pussypaws are charming. The delicate flower of the Alpine Collomia provides an interesting contrast to the plant's fleshy leaves. The V-shaped leaflets of the Alpine Lupine seem to sparkle with glitter providing a showy base for the beautiful lupine flower. Always rugged in appearance, especially in late season with its ruddy color, Newberry's Knotweed surprises with an extraordinary tiny flower which requires close examination to fully appreciate its delicate crepe-paper form.

As showy as any of the species of the subalpine zone although perhaps in smaller scale and less profuse are the Alpine Golden Daisy, Alpine Aster, the very Elegant Jacob's Ladder and three species of relatively rare arnicas. The alpine zone can be a beautiful place indeed.

...........Summer Sunrise (click on photo to enlarge)...

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