Trollius, commonly known as Globeflowers or Globe Flowers, is a genus of flowering plants in the family Ranunculaceae. They are primarily native to the northern hemisphere, including Europe, Asia, and North America. These plants are known for their distinctive, round, globe-shaped flowers.
Confusing Latin Names
The Latin names get quite confusing for this species. The White Globeflower that occurs in Kananaskis and through the western North American mountains is referred to by some authorities as a separate, unique species, Trollius albiflorus. (“Albiflorus” means “white-flowered”.) Other authorities refer to it as Trollius laxus var. albiflorus, considering it to be a western variety of the eastern North American species, Trollius laxus. In any case, the two differ in flower colour (typically white in T. albiflorus; opening yellow in T. laxus) and in ecology (mountain wetlands for T. albiflorus; low elevation, alkaline swamps and meadows for T. laxus) and they occur in widely-separated parts of North America. Our T. albiflorus is widespread through the mountains of Washington, B.C., Idaho, Montana and Alberta, while T. laxus has a quite restricted range through parts of the northeastern U. S.
They like it high and wet
Globeflowers are commonly found in alpine meadows, wetlands, and other moist, cool habitats in mountainous regions. You’ll find lots on the way to Elbow Lake or Black Prince cirque, for instance. They require constant moisture, and are often found growing alongside Glacier Lilies as pictured to the right. Just like Glacier Lilies, they are early bloomers, putting out flowers not long after the snow melts.
Their leaves develop into broad, deeply divided lobes. However, they do not grow very tall. In bloom, they are typically less than 30 cm. White Globeflower often has 5 petals. However, the petal count can be quite variable – it’s not uncommon to see 6 petals, or sometimes more. The flowering stems elongate after blooming, reaching to about 40 cm in our area. They are capped by distinctive, vertically-chambered seed heads that turn brown as they dry. Leaves are wide and made up of several deeply-divided, broad lobes. White Globeflower might be mistaken for various Anemone species. With a little closer examination, it can be distinguished by the broad leaves, very different seed heads (whitish, globular-to-cylindrical and opening to release white seed-bearing fluff in Anemone), and also by the specialized high elevation wetlands habitat it’s found in.
Pretty, but not good for you
Many species within the Trollius genus, including White Globeflower, are known to contain potentially toxic compounds if ingested. These compounds can cause gastrointestinal discomfort and other adverse effects if consumed. The specific toxic compounds present in different Trollius plant species can vary; they often include alkaloids and glycosides. While these plants are generally not considered highly toxic, it’s important to exercise caution and prevent ingestion, especially by children or pets. If there is any doubt about the safety of a plant, it’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid consumption.
Find out about more of the pretty flowers of K-Country here.