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- Thickstem Aster (Eurybia integrifolia), family Asteraceae (Aster/Sunflower)
It is native to the western United States where it occurs in mountainous areas along the Basin and Range Province. Technical information can be found at the website Flora of North America. Plant location: Found in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming on August 28, 2009. Elevation 7777'. GPS coordinates: N44°26.168 W110°34.548. This species can be found in the following United States: CA, ID, MT, NV, OR, UT, WA, WY. Bloom period: Late August, early September.
- Pacific Aster -or- Longleaf Aster -or Western Aster (Virgulaster ascendens), family Asteraceae (Aster/Sunflower)
Another very pretty Asteraceae. The genus was Aster with the species also placed in Symphyotrichum. Per Weber, "the nomenclature of asters is in a state of flux". The plants are abundant along roadsides. Our specimen was happily rooted in an embankment along just such. This species is a genetic cross of Aster occidentalis and Virgulus falcatus. For more photographs look here. Plant location: Seen in Almont Colorado on September 11, 2009. GPS coordinates: N38°39.831 W106°50.868. The elevation was 8081', montane. Bloom period: The plants can be found in bloom from early spring through fall.
- Tall Fringed Bluebells -or- Languid Lady -or- Mountain Bluebell (Mertensia ciliata), family Boraginaceae (Borage)
Per the website Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center: ' Mertensias are also called Lungworts, after a European species with spotted leaves which was believed to be a remedy for lung disease. Similar species differ in the proportions of the corolla.'. End quote. This perennial herb is one of 18 species in the genus Mertensia. A number of uses by native american indians from the Cheyenne tribe are recorded including: 'Infusion of plant used to increase milk flow of mothers; Infusion of powdered roots taken for itching from smallpox; Infusion of leaves used for measles and smallpox. Plant location: Yellowstone National Park on August 28, 2009 at an elevation of 8860'. GPS coordinates: N44°47.468 W110°26.819. It is native to the western United States, where it often grows in moist habitat, such as subalpine meadows and creeksides. This species if found in the following United States: AZ, CA, CO, ID, MT, NM, NV, OR, SD, UT, WY. Bloom period: June to August.
Tidy Lupine -or- Pacific Lupine -or- Stemless Dwarf Lupine (Lupinus lepidus ssp. caespitosus), family Fabaceae (Pea)
This specimen is one of the more unusual sightings for us from the Pea family. There are no pictorial representations (that we found) of this species on the internet or in books in our library. Our identification is based on the botanical key presented in Weber and Wittmann's Colorado Flora Eastern Slope: "Dwarf, forming low, spreading clumps, the inforescence (flower) shorter than the leaves. 1A: (scaly from the persistant petiole bases)." See the additional photographs page on this species for a macro shot of this characteristic.
A number of good sources of images of Lupinus are out there: Burke Museum, CalPhotos, and for Colorado species specifically - Southwest Colorado Wildflowers.
Plant location: Found exploring Cottonwood Pass, nearing Taylor Park Reservoir, Gunnison Colorado on July 1, 2009. USDA plant database shows this species present in only two United States: Colorado and Wyoming. Bloom period: Summer.
- Many-flowered Stickseed (Hackelia floribunda), family Boraginaceae (Borage)
Per WIKIPEDIA is this: 'Hackelia floribunda is a species of flowering plant in the borage family known by the common name manyflower stickseed. It is native to much of the western half of North America, where it is most often found in areas which are wet during the springtime, such as meadows. This is a lush biennial or perennial herb with hairy stems reaching a maximum height of about a meter. They emerge as a leafy clump, surrounded by many smooth lance-shaped leaves up to 24 centimeters long. There are few leaves at the ends of the stems, which hold cyme inflorescences of blue flowers. Each flower has five lobes with petallike appendages at their bases. The fruit is a tiny, mildly prickly nutlet.' End quote.
USES: Per the website Native American Ethnobotany are the following uses of the plant; Isleta Drug (Poison) Prickles from fruit caused skin irritation and swelling. Navajo, Ramah Drug (Orthopedic Aid) Root of this or any poisonous plant used for serious injury such as fracture. Navajo, Ramah Drug (Poison) Plant considered poisonous. Navajo, Ramah (Good Luck Charm) Leaves and pollen used various ways for good luck in gambling and trading.
Plant location: Photographed on Chicago Creek Road near Idaho Springs, Colorado, on June 28, 2011. GPS coordinates: N39°43.022 W105°34.252 - Elevation: 8040'. Native Habitat: Moist thickets and meadows, generally in coniferous forests. Bloom period: June to August, one of 29 species in the genus.
Purple Mustard -or- Musk Mustard (Chorispora tenella), family Brassicaceae (Mustard)
A beautiful carpet of these plants cover a huge piece of field near our home in Northglenn Colorado. See it and more photographs here. While the plants en masse can make for a beautiful show there are some negatives. The scent of the plants is considered unpleasant and when eaten by cattle the milk is affected with the same odor. In fields of grains it can be competive and reduce productivity. The annual herbs are native to Eurasia. The flowers are both male and female and are polinated by insects. This is the only species in the genus. The state of California has declared the plants a noxious weed.
USES: The leaves of this plant are edible and said to be good in salads. We have found no information on nutrient values. Also called Blue Mustard.
Plant location: Seen on Cottonwood Pass, Grandby, Colorado on May 27, 2009. The plants are found in almost every state of the U.S. except the far east. Also in parts of Canada. Bloom period: April through June. The seeds mature in July and August.
Beautiful and profuse Lupine (Lupinus), family Fabaceae (Pea)
Lupine is a favorite of ours. It sometimes seems to be everywhere and so is a reliable source of refreshing color on the many hikes we do. The name Lupine is actually common only in North America. Elsewhere in the world the genus is spelled Lupin - they are the same plants. There are 200-600 species in this genus! An interesting factoid from WIKIPEDIA is that most of the plants from the family Fabaceae can 'fix nitrogen' from the air turning it into ammonia which fertilizes the soil for surrounding plants! Certain species of Lupins produce sweet beans which are eaten in a surprising number of countries; Portugal, Egypt, Italy, Brazil, and Spanish Harlem to name a few. In Germany a new variety of Lupin has been produced that eliminates the need to soak the beans prior to preparation. The beans are becoming an increasingly popular alternative to soy. There is even a lupin tofu! Yum to Lupines! As beautiful as these flowers can be, in New Zealand they have become too much of a good thing. Their numbers are the subject of an effort now to reduce them. However, some enterprising souls in that country are not helping out. There have been some instances of seed packets being sold containing Lupin seed that will supposedly grow into a giant beanstalk! Plant location: This specimen was photographed in the Cle Elum Washington area in early June 2007. Bloom season: the bloom season varies greatly depending on the specific flower. The most common we see falls from June to August.
Alpine Milkvetch (Astragalus alpinus), family Fabaceae (Pea/Bean)
Astragalus is a large genus of about 2,000 species of herbs and small shrubs, belonging to the legume family Fabaceae. Per the USDA plant database, there are only 419 species. The genus is native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Common names include milk-vetch (most species), locoweed (in western United States and some species), goat's-thorn. In Minnesota and Wisconsin the species is classified as endangered and in Maine is a plant of special concern. More WildflowersWest photographs here. Plant location: Seen on Guannella Pass Colorado on June 10, 2009. Bloom period: June through August.
- Pineywoods Geranium (Geranium caespitosum), family Geraniaceae (Geranium)
A lovely geranium, Pineywoods has distinctive sepals interleaved between the flower petals that create a very attractive symmetry for the bloom. It is our favorite geranium. This plant is a perennial herb. The genus is large numbering about 422 species, but with only about 30 (both annual and perenial) here in North America. Another common name of members in this genus is cranesbill. The Rocky Mountains and adjacent western areas host EIGHT endemic species. Propagation is by seed-ejection with seeds actively discharged by the explosive recoil of the plant's awn. Weber shows that his species is present in Colorado in two subspecies forms: subsp atropurpureum, and subsp caespitosum. Our specimen is almost certainly atropurpureum based on his botanical key.
USES: Per the website Native American Ethnobotany are the following uses of Geranium caespitosum by Native American tribes: Keres, Western Drug (Dermatological Aid) Roots bruised into a paste for sores - Keres, Western Food (Fodder)Considered good turkey food - Gosiute Drug (Antidiarrheal) Decoction of roots used for diarrhea. Plant used as an astringent.
See more images of Pineywoods Geranium here.
Geranium Family Factoid: Weber and Witmann's book Colorado Flora Eastern Slope has a fascinating discourse on the family's method of propagation: 'The geraniums have developed a remarkable method of planting their seeds. The gynoecium splits into 5 1-seeded units (mericarps), each attached to a split length of style that coils like a spring. Falling to the ground, the spring coils and uncoils with changes in atmospheric humidity. If the spring lies against a grass stem or other fixed object, it drills the sharp pointed mericarp, containing the seed, into the earth.' End quote.
See other Geranium species on the site: Sticky Geranium <> Stinky Bob <> Storksbill <> Richardson's Geranium. Plant location: Seen headed toward Wolf Creek Pass near the Pagosa Springs Colorado area on September 16, 2009. The elevation was 8413'. GPS coordinates: N37°27.128 W106°52.966. This species is found in only 7 of the United States: AZ , CO , NV , NM , TX , UT , WY. Colors can vary from pale pink, red(ish) to purple. Note the stem pattern of the plant. This is another characteristic that defines this specimen as subsp atropurpureum - stems slender and much-branched. Bloom period: May to September. Leaves palmately lobed (has segments that radiate from a single point).
Desert Bells (Phacelia campanularia ssp. vasiformis), family Hydrophyllaceae (Waterleaf)
A good discussion on the species (and subspecies) can be found here. The species can cause dermatitis. It is an annual herb that is said to be a native to the state of California. USDA shows the plants only growing in California and Arizona. This is precisely why we now document sightings of species with GPS coordinates and elevation. By the way, CalFlora show this plant only growing to an elevation of 5249'. Plant location: Seen on a roadside embankement (Hwy 191) in Wyoming, elevation 6337'. GPS corrdinates: N43°16.758 W110°31.950 Bloom period: Late spring through mid summer.
Silver-leaved Scorpionweed -or- Whiteleaf Phacelia (Phacelia hastata var. hastata), family Hydrophyllaceae (Waterleaf)
A more compact version of the primary species. This perennial herb keeps company with 158 other members of this genus. This species belongs to a complex group of closely related plants of dry, rocky mountain habitat, all with whitish flowers. They are distinguished from other Phacelias by their leaf veins.
USES: Just one record from Native American Ethnobotany: - Thompson Drug (Gynecological Aid) Decoction of plant taken for difficult menstruation.
Plant location: Yellowstone National Park, sighted on September 1, 2009. The elevation was 8500'. GPS corrdinates: N45°01.784 W109°25.116 This species is found in the following United States: CA, CO, ID, MT, ND, NE, NV, OR, SD, UT, WA, WY. Bloom period: May through July.
Tanseyleaf Tansyaster (Machaeranthera tanacetifolia), family Asteraceae (Aster/Sunflower)
This plant is one of 18 species in the genus Machaeranthera. It is native to northern Mexico and the southwestern and central United States, where it grows in several types of habitat.
USES: There are a few recorded uses for this species from Native American Ethnobotany: Hopi (Gynecological Aid) Decoction of plant taken by parturient women for any disorder. Decoction of plant taken as a strong stimulant. Navajo, Ramah (Gastrointestinal Aid) Decoction of whole plant taken for stomachache. Dried root used as snuff to cause sneezing to relieve congested nose. Zuni Infusion of flowers taken with other flowers for unspecified illnesses.
Plant location: Seen on a hike in the Pawnee National Grasslands - Pawnee Butte, Trail #840 on June 4, 2009. AZ, CA, CO, IL, KS, MT, NE, NM, NV, NY, OK, SD, TX, UT, WY - these are the United States where this species can be found. Bloom period: May through October. As always bloom times vary due to differences in climate, soil, elevation, etc. This species is a plains dweller.