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Do you know your Boreal?

Species found in the book Mother Earth: Boreal Beauty of the Peace Country by Sharon Krushel

White-throated Sparrow -- Zonotrichia albicollis

French: Bruant à gorge blanche (p.109)

The bird song I’m hearing most in the forest this summer is “My Sweet Canada Canada Canada!”

Our whistlers of the Boreal come north each spring to mate and raise their families. They will start migrating south in September or October, so enjoy their concerts while you can. 

I have written and recorded a song for the White-throated Sparrow and created a video with fun facts at the end, which you can find on the “Videos and Resources” page of our website:

Photo by Sharon Krushel


Canadian Tiger Swallowtail -- Papilio canadensis

French: Papillon tigré du Canada (p.153)

This big, beautiful butterfly is found in every province and territory in Canada. It’s a hearty Canadian that does not migrate. The final brood of the year can survive our cold winters by hibernating in the chrysalis stage until spring. I’ve often seen these butterflies feeding on the nectar of lilac flowers, clover, goldenrod and daisies.

Photo by Wendy Parkin


Moose – Alces alces

French: Orignal | Beaver: xadaa | Cree: môswa (p.219)

Moose like to hang out along lakes, muskeg and streams and are sometimes referred to as “swamp donkeys.” They can dive down several metres to feed on lake-bottom plants. The tiny black hairless triangle at the end of their prominent proboscis (nose) is called a rhinarium. The palm-shaped antlers of a bull can extend 1.5 metres across on a mature 550-700kg majestic moose.

Photo by Tyrell Parenteau


Smooth Aster – Symphyotrichum laeve

French: Aster lisse (p.78)

Aster comes from a Greek word meaning star. I love to get down and examine these wildflowers closely because the capitula (centre) consists of many individual flowers. Smooth asters are late bloomers in the Boreal.

In autumn, they offer pollen to the precious pollinators, sometimes even after the first frost, when other flowers have long since closed up shop. Stars of the Boreal indeed! 

There is another type of purple-and-yellow aster featured on page 79 of the Mother Earth book called Smooth Fleabane, which has finer petals.

Photo by Sharon Krushel


Tamarack -- Larix laricina

French: Mélèze laricin | Beaver: dyúúze | Cree: wâkinâkan (p.23)

If the glory of the fall in the Peace Country is a concert of colour, the Tamarack trees are autumn’s encore.

These unique trees are an ecological puzzle as they are both coniferous and deciduous. Their soft needles turn a beautiful golden yellow before they fall to the ground in late fall. 

You can find Tamarack trees in fens, swamps and wet mineral soils across the Boreal Forest north and west to Great Slave Lake, Mackenzie delta. 

I’ve seen them on North Harmon Valley Road and in the Normand Boucher Community Arboretum on the northend of Peace River.

Photo by Sharon Krushel


Alberta Wild Rose / Prickly Rose -– Rosa acicularis

French: rose sauvage | Beaver: xust’ǫ́’ (thorny bush) | Cree: kāminakūse

There are two species of wild rose in the Peace Country: common wild rose (Rosa woodsii), which is uncommon, and the prickly rose—Alberta’s official flower (Rosa acicularis).

Rosehips (p. 41) can be used to make tea and jellies. Don’t eat the seeds!

Photos submitted by Sharon Krushel, author of the coffee table book: Mother Earth - Boreal Beauty of the Peace Country (featuring the work of 32 photographers).


See for online purchase and a list of outlets in the Peace. Contact Sharon at 780-625-6324 to order or to find out about presentations, events and educational resources. Email

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