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Wild plants in Calgary's natural areas

Our natural parks are home to an array of both flora and fauna. The plant-life within Calgary's parks play a very important role in maintaining and sustaining a healthy environment, and provides important habitat for wildlife.

Calgary's natural parks have many different types of plant-life for you to enjoy. The City aims to protect and restore native species in our natural areas, and therefore most of the plant-life you encounter will be native to Alberta.

Wild plants you might encounter in Calgary

Balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera)

The Balsam poplar is a native deciduous tree that can grow up to 25m tall. Balsam poplars grow along rivers in flood plains. Floods are vital to poplar re-generation.
Damming of the Bow River in Calgary has had an impact on the natural process, preventing the natural Bow River Valley spring flood that happened approximately every decade. Since the damming of the Bow River, The City has planted over 30,000 poplars.

Aspen (Populus tremuloides)

An aspen is a deciduous tree that can grow up to 20 or 30m tall. Aspen forests are one of the most diverse ecological environments in Calgary as they mix well with other areas. Aspen woods are home to many mammals like the coyote and white-tailed deer, as well as many types of birds. Aspens are the preferred food of beavers.

Rough fescue grass (Festuca campestris)

Rough fescue grass is recognised by its bunch form and purplish stems. Alberta has the largest area of rough fescue grassland in the world, but it is endangered due to cultivation and development. It is a very hardy grass that can withstand drought and fire. Rough fescue is Alberta's official grass emblem.


Forbs is a broadleaved, non-woody plant that dies back to the ground after each growing season (a flowering perennial). Forbs found in natural parks include sticky purple geranium, yarrow, sage, northern bedstraw, wild blue lupine, wild bergamot, solomon's seal, wild blue flax, Canada anemone and wild strawberry.


A shrub is a low woody perennial plant usually having several major branches. Some common shrubs found in natural environment parks are buffaloberry, prickly rose, red osier dogwood, wild rose, Saskatoon, snowberry, and chokecherry. Many birds are attracted to shrubs because of their berries.

Calgary's parks are home to many species of plants and animals. To help sustain our fragile park ecosystems, please remember to "Take pictures, not flowers." For more information on the flora, contact Parks.