Russia: Kamchatka : #7 Wildflowers of the Mutnovsky Valley

The date was 23rd August and that meant it was time to pack up our camp in the Mutnovsky Valley and prepare ourselves for the journey back to Petropavlovsk and civilization.

P1120637  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

Map courtesy brochure of   – organizers of this tour

The first part of our adventure with Silk Road Tours, to the southern part of  Kamchatka, was coming to an end.  Between tours we would have  a window of opportunity in Petropavlovsk to enjoy a proper shower, wash very dirty clothes and, hopefully, have a much needed good night’s sleep – not on the ground in a small tent.  We would then head north for the second half of the tour.

But first, our tents needed to dry out before they could be packed away.  So, after breakfast, we wandered across the small creek that ran along one side of our campsite.  This proved to be a good move because here we found some old friends in plants we had come across before but also several plants not previously seen.  Instead of spending just a few minutes rummaging around, we spent almost an hour finding one plant after another. It was fun.  I hope you enjoy the photos of these plants in nature’s wildflower garden.

Many of these plants aren’t known to me.  However, with the help of Google as well as Rosemary, our botanist tour leader together with some hours scouring a couple of books on identification of plants commonly found in Kamchatka, we have now been able to name them.  However, if you think we have made an identification error, please let us know.  We can easily correct the text.

P1110515  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110515 © DY of jtdytravels

Gentiana glauca

The statuesque Gentiana glauca has erect, solitary, glabrous stems arising from creeping rootstocks.  The basal rosette leaves are fleshy and elliptic to oval while  the two to four pairs of stem leaves are opposite, smaller and more elongate.  The terminal inflorescence is a cluster of short-stalked blue-green flowers.


P1110519  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110519 © DY of jtdytravels

Metallic sheen of the stunningly beautiful buds of Gentiana glauca.


P1110521  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110521 © DY of jtdytravels

Bell shaped flowers of Phyllodoce aleutica with orange styles beginning to wither.

There are five species of Phyllodoce, all from the Arctic and a few high mountain areas in eastern Asia and North America.

Phyllodoce aleutica is native to Japan, Sakhalin, Kamchatka, Kuriles and Alaska

and grows on moist to wet alpine slopes.


P1110502  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110502 © DY of jtdytravels

Cassiope lycopodioides   Cassiope Clubmoss

Cassiope lycopodioides is a delicate member of the Erica family.  The white petals are fused together, giving the flower a bell shape.  Each flower hangs separately off individual hairless stalks.


P1110542  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110542 © DY of jtdytravels

Flowers of Saxifraga merkii   Merk’s Saxifrage

On higher slopes of the volcanoes we had only seen the seed heads of this plant.


P1110510  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110510 © DY of jtdytravels

 More delicate flowers of Saxifraga merkii   Merk’s Saxifrage


P1110499  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110499 © DY of jtdytravels

Veratrum oxysepalum   White False Hellebore  (close up)


P1110500  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110500 © DY of jtdytravels

Veratrum oxysepalum    White False Hellebore


P1110526  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110526 © DY of jtdytravels

Castilleja pallida     Pallid Paintbrush


P1110529  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110529 © DY of jtdytravels

Veronica grandiflora     Largeflower Speedwell


P1110550  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110550 © DY of jtdytravels

A smaller member of the Veronica  or  Speedwell family


P1110553  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110553 © DY of jtdytravels

Pedicularis verticullata       Whorled Lousewort

The genera name, Pedicularis, comes from the latin pediculus, meaning a louse.

Legend has it that animals who ate these plants were said to be protected from lice.

The species name, verticillata , comes from the Latin vertere, which means to turn.

This refers to the whorls or circles of flowers along the main stem


P1110555  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110555 © DY of jtdytravels

Pedicularis verticullata    Whorled Lousewort

Other English common names for this plant are Whorled Fernweed and Bumblebee Flower.

The flowers are typical of bee pollinated flowers

with landing platforms, abundant nectar, and bright colours.


P1110525  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110525 © DY of jtdytravels

Buds of Rhododendron camtschaticum      Kamchatka Rhododendron


P1110505  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110505 © DY of jtdytravels

Rhododendron camtschaticum     Kamchatka Rhododendron

This dwarf, very hardy shrub, has large pink flowers up to two inches across.

 In the wild, as here in Mutnosky National Park, large sections of the mountain sides

turn pink with the profusion of this delightful flower..


P1110533  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110533 © DY of jtdytravels

Saxifraga calycina   with seed capsules beginning to develop


P1110535  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110535 © DY of jtdytravels

Stenotheca tristis    Woolly Hawkweed


P1110561  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110561 © DY of jtdytravels

Saussurea sp.  


P1110540  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110540 © DY of jtdytravels

Seeds of   Oxyria digyna    Mountain Sorrel

This plant is a member of the buckwheat family.  The name Oxyria comes from the Greek and means “sour”.  The plant grows in wet places and is protected by snow in winter.   It forms dense tufts, with stems 10-20 cm high.  Both flowering stems and leaf stalks are somewhat reddish. The leaves are kidney-shaped and somewhat fleshy.  They have a fresh, acidic, sour taste and are rich in vitamin C.  The flowers are green to begin with, later turning red.  The fruit, seen here, is a small nut, encircled by a broad wing which finally turns red.


P1110532  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110532 © DY of jtdytravels

Salix sp.  A type of Willow


P1110538  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110538 © DY of jtdytravels

Leaf impaled by sharp pointed leaf of Equisetum hyemale     Scouringrush Horsetail


P1110543  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110543 © DY of jtdytravels

Carex koraginensis    Karaginskaya Sedge


P1110556  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110556 © DY of jtdytravels

Trollius riederianus   Kamchatka Globeflower

This plant, with its bright sunshine yellow flowers, is deciduous.

It belongs to the Ranunculaceae or Buttercup Family.


P1110559  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110559 © DY of jtdytravels

Geranium erianthum    Northern Geranium


P1110558  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110558 © DY of jtdytravels

Geranium erianthum    Northern Geranium


P1110567  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110567 © DY of jtdytravels

 Polemonium acutiflorum growing by the stream.


P1110568  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110568 © DY of jtdytravels

Polemonium acutiflorum has a stunningly beautiful flower.

If we could watch one of these flowers over the course of a couple of days, we would see that the anthers (the male parts) deliver the pollen for a day or two before the style (the female part) bends upwards, the corolla opens, the anthers shrivel, and the stigma ( the pollen receptor) opens.

It is interesting to learn that the blue part of the corolla and part of the white reflect ultraviolet light while the other part of the white base absorbs ultraviolet light.  It is therefore seen by its pollinatore, bumblebees and medium sized insects, as being 3 coloured rather than the 2 colours we see.  Nature is fascinating is it not?

{ Notes for this flower come from – a well credentialled flora site; well worth a look.}


P1110229  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110229 © DY of jtdytravels

Time was fast running out for our flora foray.  I had worked my way back down to the stream that was dotted with the white fluffy heads of Eriophorum polystachion, Tall Cotton Grass.

P1110560  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1110560 © DY of jtdytravels

Iris setosa    Wild Flag also grew in abundance alongside the stream.


P1050042  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1050042 © Photo courtesy of Gulya Shevstova

Gulya came to gather us up to get ready to move on.  She must have realised that I have sap in my veins and that I take great delight in flower hunting and photography, so she took this photo of the photographer!

It was wonderful to find that, in just this one small patch of wilderness, there were so many different flowering plants.  Nature is truly amazing.   While my horticultural career has been mainly about garden plants, it is from wildflowers such as these that so many of our garden plants derive.   I think I would have enjoyed being a plant hunter back in the 18th and 19th centuries.  Now, I use a camera instead of collecting specimens and seeds. The National Park rule now applies to us all – leave only footprints, take only photos!

I wonder which of these wildflowers is your favourite.  Difficult, isn’t it?


All Photography Copyright ©  David Young  of jtdytravels

with the exception of P1050042 courtesy of Gulya Shevstova

Reference book:  Plants of Kamchatka

We have many stories and photos of flowers and gardens of the world on:

Other nature and flowering plant stories from Australia are on our site:



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