Wagner Natural Area located 1.6 km west of Highway 16 and Highway 44, near Edmonton, AB is a provincially protected area. This land has not been set aside for recreational or development, instead it is protected because of it’s 620 acres of biological and physical diversity.
It is a microcosm of boreal forest and contains many natural ponds, swamps, coniferous and deciduous forests, creeks and fields. Obviously this protected area has a rich diversity of plant life from a variety of wild orchids, carnivorous plants and mosses.
One of my favourites is the Round-Leaved orchid (Orchis rotundifolia), one of 16 species that can be found in the Wagner Natural Area (there are 26 species of Orchids found naturally in Alberta). It grows in mossy areas of moist spruce forests, a fragile habitat that does not recover readily from human disturbance.
The plants 2-8 pinkish white flowers have purple spots on their lips. A single basal leaf is about 3-7 cm long. This little gem is often overlooked because of its size, the stem rarely exceeds 25 cm in height.
The habitats of orchids need protection if wild orchids are to be preserved for future generations. Visitors to the Wagner Natural Area should stay on the hiking trails to reduce impact on the natural environment.
- Orchids in Edmonton (Nature Edmonton)