Interesting and Odd Wildflowers of British Columbia

There are very many different types of wildflowers along the west coast of British Columbia (also including farther north and south). Some are just interesting to look at because they are unique and beautiful. Others have medicinal properties and/or are edible. They have long-standing uses by the native aboriginal peoples, and it is estimated that literally thousands of traditional medicines are derived from plants present along the west coast region. This is why the pristine beauty and hidden treasures of this area are definitely worth conserving, and should be left as undisturbed as possible.

Below is a sampling of some of my favourite kinds, just because they are beautiful, intriguing, interesting and/or unique.

Star-flowered False Solomon’s Seal

Smilacina racemosa

False Solomon's Seal

Perennial with star-like flowers. The fruit is a round, greenish-yellow berry with 3 or 6 blue-purple stripes, changing to dark blue or reddish-black at maturity. Berries are edible but not especially tasty.





Clasping Twistedstalk

Clasping Twistedstalk

Streptopus amplexifolius

Perennial with greenish-white, bell-shaped flowers that have flaring tips. The fruit is an oval-oblong berry (yellow to red, sometimes turning dark purple). According to Pojar and MacKinnon, most aboriginal people regard the plants and berries as poisonous.


White Fawn Lily

White Fawn Lilly

Erythronium oregonum

Perennial with mottled leaves.
According to Pojar and MacKinnon, Erythronium comes from the Greek erythros for red, in reference to some pinkish-flowered species that were used in ancient times to make a dye.

Chocolate Lilly

Fritillaria lanceolata

Perennial, with a pretty and unique flower.
The bulbs were eaten by Coast Salish, including the Squamish, Sechelt, Halq’emeylem and Straits Salish. These plants are quite rare in many places and should be left undisturbed.



Mountain Lady Slipper

Mountain Lady Slipper

Cypripedium montanum

Very elegant flower design, but threatened by over-collecting. This orchid reportedly takes 15 years to flower.




Ladies Tresses

Ladies’ Tresses

Spiranthes romanzoffiana

Flowers are arranged in a spiral fashion around the spike.


Claytonia perfoliata

Annual, with slender taproot and leaves forming a disk around the stem, above mid-length. This species is extremely variable in size, colour and shape of leaves, and size of flowers. Called miner’s-lettuce because early miners and settlers used it as a salad vegetable.


Bladder campion

Bladder Campion

Silene vulgaris

Sepals are about one cm long, fused into a chalice. This appears to be a weedy, introduced species.



Shepherd's Purse

Shepherd’s Purse

Capsella bursa-pastoris

This is a common weed, originally from Europe and found in places where there is human-caused disturbance. It has been used in Europe as a source of edible greens and spicy seeds.



Foam flower


Tiarella trifoliata

Perennial, with three leaflets that are irregularly lobed and coarsely toothed. Tiarella species are called “foamflowers” because the flowers appear like specks of foam.




Book Reference:

1. Plants of Coastal British Columbia including Washington, Oregon & Alaska. Pojar and MacKinnon; Lone Pine publishing, 2004.





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2 thoughts on “

Interesting and Odd Wildflowers of British Columbia

  1. Thanks for helping me identify Ladies Tresses. Couldn’t find it anywhere else and my niece who went to school for forestry etc , couldn’t identify

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