Pink Elephants

Pink elephants: Hallucinations supposedly seen by those who’ve had too much to drink.

You won’t need whiskey to see these pink elephants. Just squat down and take a peek. It’s worth getting a bit damp and muddy: large head, big ears, long curving trunk. (Are those tusks?) Yup, it’s an elephant.

I encountered my first elephant heads years ago near Lake Louise in Banff National Park. The tall pink flower stalks and frilly fernlike leaves captivated me.

Years passed before I saw them again — this time a small patch near the corner of our woods. Shaded by willows, cool and moist. Almost hidden. Some years they do better than others and this is one.

Like its relatives Indian paintbrush and yellow rattle, elephant head has a penchant for the neighbours’ food, stealing it via the root system. Nice work if you can get it.

Elephant head grows across Canada and the western USA. There’s even a rare all-white form. Imagine that — an albino elephant. Now that might call for a drink.

Elephant head   Pedicularis groenlandica


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