Mountain Sorrel

Scientific Name:
Oxyria digyna (L.) Hill

Our research on this species strongly suggests that mountain sorrel may have survived during the last ice age in ice-free refugia in areas of BC that are commonly thought to have been covered by the Cordilleran Ice Sheet. Collections from western North America, Russia and Europe were used in a research project, which employed DNA markers to investigate the migration of alpine plants within and outside of BC before, during and after the last major ice age (the same method is used by other researchers to trace the migrations of our own species, Homo sapiens).

Mountain sorrel is common in alpine habitats and is very widespread, with a circumpolar distribution. This specimen was collected in the Nass Mountain Ranges on July 19, 2006 by RBCM botany curators Ken Marr and Richard Hebda and provincial forest research ecologist Will MacKenzie. It is a research ‘voucher’ specimen, deposited in the Royal BC Museum herbarium. Vouchers are vital to the scientific process because they can be re-examined to verify the identification of the material that was analyzed, if the validity of research is questioned.