Star Lily (Leucocrinum montanum), family Liliaceae (Lilly)
This beautiful flower was found in the dry, arid setting of the Pawnee National Grasslands making this a pleasant refreshing find! While so many plant genus include great numbers of species, this particular specimen is the ONLY member. Native to North America, it is a perennial. Alternate names are Sand lily, Mountain lily, Wild tuberose, Star of Bethlehem. USES:
The roots of star lily were reportedly used for food by the Crow Indians. The Paiute and Shoshoni Indians used a poultice of the pulverized roots and applied it to sores and swellings. This information comes from Plant-Life.org.
FunFact: A most interesting fact from Wikipedia is about the life habit of the plant. In a way it can be said to hybernate!
By midsummer the plant disappears from view and goes dormant through the hottest part of the season. The plants have fleshy roots instead of bulbs.Plant location: Seen on a hike in the Pawnee National Grasslands - Pawnee Butte, Trail #840 on May 26, 2008 and again on Hwy 36 East about 5 miles from Estes Park on May 7, 2009. The plant view is from the more recent date.Bloom season: starts in early spring to early summer.
Silvery Lupine (Lupinus argenteus subsp. ingratus), family Fabaceae (Pea)
What a graceful and nicely balanced plant this specimen was. This subspecies of argenteus is a surprise for Silvery Lupine which is more commonly a pretty shade of blue. William Weber in the book Colorado Flora, Eastern Slope describes the subspecies as often found in the Front Range foothills. Our sighting was a bit higher. This subspecies is found in only 3 states according to the USDA plant database: Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah. It is a native of the continental United States. However there are also two recorded sightings of the subspecies in Wyoming; one in 1956 and another in 1960. In the genus Lupin (often spelled Lupine) there are 600 species alone, 'with major centers of diversity
in South America and western North America'.
Plant location: In the area of Creedmore Lake Colorado. The date sighted was August 31, 2008. The plant is a perennial subshrub forb. Typical habitats are dry open sites, fields, prairies, roadsides, forest openings, and hillsides.
Bloom period: June to Spetember. The usual finger or fan look of the foliage of Lupine. Per WIKIPEDIA is this: 'The yellow legume seeds of lupins, commonly called lupin beans, were popular with the Romans, who spread the plant's cultivation throughout the Roman Empire; hence common names like lupini in Romance languages. Lupin beans are commonly sold in a salty solution in jars (like olives and pickles) and can be eaten with or without the skin. Lupins are also cultivated as forage and grain legumes. Lupini dishes are most commonly found in Mediterranean countries, especially in Portugal, Egypt, and Italy, and also in Brazil and in Spanish Harlem, where they are popularly consumed with beer. The Andean variety of this bean is from the Andean Lupin (tarwi, L. mutabilis)
and was a widespread food in the Incan Empire. The Andean Lupin and the Mediterranean L. albus (White Lupin), L. angustifolius (Blue Lupin) and Lupinus hirsutus are also edible after soaking the seeds for some days in salted water. They are known as altramuz in Spain and Argentina. In Portuguese the lupin beans are known as tremo?os, and in Antalya (Turkey) as tirmis[verification needed]. Lupins were also used by Native Americans in North America, e.g. the Yavapai people.' End quote.
Wild Onion (Allium geyeri), family Liliaceae
Per WIKIPEDIA: 'Allium is the onion genus, with about 1250 species, making it one of the largest plant genera in the world. They are perennial bulbous plants that produce chemical compounds (mostly cystein sulfoxide) that give them a characteristic onion or garlic taste and odor, and many are used as food plants. Allium is classified in family Alliaceae although some classifications have included it in the lily family (Liliaceae). Allium species occur in temperate climates of the northern hemisphere, except for a few species occurring in Chile (as Allium juncifolium), Brazil (Allium sellovianum) or tropical Africa (Allium spathaceum). They can vary in height between 5 cm and 150 cm. The flowers form
an umbel at the top of a leafless stalk. The bulbs vary in size between species, from very small (around 2-3 mm in diameter) to rather big (8-10 cm). Some species (such as Welsh onion, A. fistulosum) develop thickened leaf-bases rather than forming bulbs as such. Most bulbous alliums increase by forming little bulbs or "offsets" around the old one, as well as by seed. Several species can form many bulbils (tiny bulbs) in the flowerhead; in the so-called "tree onion" (A. cepa Proliferum Group) the bulbils are few, but large enough to be used for pickling. Members of the genus include many valued vegetables such as onions, shallots, leeks and herbs such as garlic and chives. A strong "oniony" odor is characteristic of the whole genus, but not all members are equally flavorful. Some Allium species, including A. cristophii and A. giganteum, are used as border plants for their flowers, and their "architectural" qualities. Several hybrids have been bred, or selected, with rich purple flowers. Allium hollandicum 'Purple
Sensation' is one of the most popular and has been given an Award of Garden Merit (H4). By contrast, other species (such as the invasive Allium triquetrum) can become troublesome garden weeds.' End quote.
Plant location: Seen on a hike in the Pawnee National Grasslands - Pawnee Butte, Trail #840 on May 26, 2008. This was an excellent hike for sighting wildflowers!! We identified no less than TWENTY-FIVE new species of wildflowers on this hike. Having just moved to Colorado, this was a wonderful introduction to the Plains wildflowers of Colorado. We highly recommend the hike. The area is also known for it's raptor population.Bloom season: Generally early spring through June. Some species like the cooler weather. They die back as it gets hotter and then bloom again in the fall.
Western Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana), family Rosaceae
This widespread flowering bush enjoys a wide turf but this specific variety unfortunately harbors a pest caterpillar called the Tent Caterpillar which poses a threat to fruit bearing plants. The plants are also toxic to horses, especially after wilting. The name of the plant may come from the fact that a poisened horse will exhibit symptoms of heavy breathing, weakness, and agitation. This species is native to North America. The Western Chokecherry can be distingused from it's counterpart the Common Chockecherry by a downy haired underside of the leaves.
Plant location: Seen on a hike in the Pawnee National Grasslands - Pawnee Butte, Trail #840 on May 26, 2008. This was an excellent hike for sighting wildflowers!! We identified no less than TWENTY-FIVE new species of wildflowers on this hike. Having just moved to Colorado, this was a wonderful introduction to the Plains wildflowers of Colorado. We highly recommend the hike. The area is also known for it's raptor population.Bloom season: Spring
Mountain Phlox (Phlox austromontana), family Polemoniaceae (Phlox)
This species is one of about 65 in the genus Phlox. A couple of botanical keys from Colorado Flora: Eastern Slope helped to confirm the identity of this species. Membrane between the calyx lobes distinctly convex-keeled in the lower half - leaves steely green, slender, stiffish and sharp pointed, and leaves not crowded. USES:
There are the following recorded uses by native american tribes of the plant, per Native American Ethnobotany: Havasupai Drug (Antirheumatic (External) Decoction of pounded roots rubbed all over the body for aches and colds. (Gastrointestinal Aid) Decoction of pounded roots given to babies with stomachaches. Navajo, Kayenta Drug (Toothache Remedy) Crushed plant placed in cavity for toothaches.
For more photographs go here.
Plant location: Along a roadside heading to Cottonwood Pass (Grandby) Colorado. Sighted on May 27, 2009. Per WIKIPEDIA:'It is native to the southwestern United States and Baja California, where it grows in forested and wooded mountain habitat, scrub, and open areas. It is a mat-forming perennial herb growing in patches of very short stems.' End quote. The plants are found in these United States:(AZ, CA, CO, ID, NM, NV, OR, UT).Bloom season: All through summer. Our specimen was in bloom in late spring with some flowers already fading.
A reputation for growth in arid, dry, or inhospitable habitats may be perfectly accurate, but not for our specimen. The area was definately NOT a bog, but neither was it quite as dry as we would have thought to find Yucca. The genus of Yucca offers 40-50 species that are native to North America, West Indies, and Central America. The pollination process of the Yucca is quite interesting. It is carried out by a specific insect, the Yucca Moth. The creature transfers pollen to benefit the plant but also lays it's egg in the plant's flowers. The baby eats some - but not all - of the plant's seeds. Thus this is a partnership between two species to mutually
benefit from one another!
An interesting bit about the Yucca plant is that it has the lowest ignition temperature of any wood and therefore is a highly effective fire-starting material. For those pet lovers out there, don't let your Peter Cotton-Tails eat any Yucca plant. It is poisonous to rabbits. The Yucca is famous in a nice way; it is the state flower of New Mexico.
Plant location: On June 10, 2008 we saw this example in the foothills area of the Rocky Mountain Front Range. Bloom season: May through July.
Groundplum Milkvetch (Astragalus crassicarpus), family Fabaceae (Pea)
These pretty plants offer flower colors of white, blue, and purple and attract butterflies. They are one of approximately 419 species in the genus Astragalus, with five varieties of this species. Plants for a Future states: Many members of this genus contain toxic glycosides. All species with edible seedpods can be distinguished by their fleshy round or oval seedpod that looks somewhat like a greengage. A number of species can also accumulate toxic levels of selenium when grown in soils that are relatively rich in that element. See more photographs here.USES: Native American Ethnobotany has these records: Chippewa Drug (Anticonvulsive) Compound infusion or decoction of root taken for "fits", and compound decoction of root taken for convulsions. Chippewa Drug (Hemostat) Compound infusion or decoction of root used on bleeding wounds. (Stimulant) Compound infusion or decoction of root taken or used externally as stimulant and tonic. Lakota Drug (Veterinary Aid) Used as medicine for horses. Dakota Food (Unspecified) Plant sometimes eaten raw and fresh. Lakota Food (Fruit) Fruits eaten for food. Astragalus crassicarpus var. crassicarpus: Variety Montana Indian Food (Unspecified) Fleshy, plum-like pods eaten raw, boiled and used for pickles. Omaha (Ceremonial Items) Fruits gathered just before corn planting time and ceremonially soaked with seed corn.
Plant location: Saw this specimen hiking the Towhee Trail in Boulder County near El Dorado Springs, May 9, 2010. GPS coordinates: N39?56.471 W105?15.765 - Elevation: 5685' A fairly widespread plant found in the following United States: AR, AZ, CO, IA, IL, KS, LA, MN, MO, MT, ND, NE, NM, OK, SD, TX, WI, WY, and Canada: AB, BC, MB, SK.Bloom season: May and June. Groundplum is a foothills and plains dweller.
Night-flowering Catchfly -or- Stick Cockle (Silene noctiflora), family Caryophyllaceae (Pink)
This plant has a lot to capture the eye and one heck of a distribution. In Britrish Columbia (called a white cockle there) the plant is considered a pest, while in Britian it is endangered. Hmmm, we think a swap is in order! In our realm (Colorado) these plants are plains and foothills dwellers. You won't see them up in the mountains on your high altitude hikes. The long bloon period gives one a good chance to see these fun looking plants. With their bulbous calyx behind the pure white flowers, they almost have a comic appearance. The Catch-fly is easily confused with White Campion. Look at the foliage to determine who you have.
See our foliage shot for the Catch-fly. The Silene genus is a member of a huge family comprised of 88 genera and approximately 2000 species commonly known as the carnations or pinks. Our specimen is in the ranks of a plant that is only one of two flowering plants in the entire Antarctica.
Plant location: Foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado on June 6, 2008Bloom season: May to September
Flower-of-an-hour (Hibiscus trionum), family Malvaceae (Mallow)
A pleased thanks to Barbara Hjermstad of Durango Colorado for her contribution of the flower photograph of this species! Trionum is the only member of hibiscus in Colorado according to botantist William Weber. There are a total, however, of 40 species in the genus. The plants are annual forb/herbs that are found in almost every state of the U.S. and much of Canada. They originated from east of the Mediterranean and spread to southern Europe. The blooms are true to the name - the open flowers last a mere one to two hours per day and are sometimes yellow. See a good photograph of the planthere. Barbara's plant 'popped' out of nowhere from their wheelbarrow garden. They live at an elevation of about 7000'.
USES: Per the website Plants for a Future: The flowers are diuretic and used in the treatment of itch and painful skin diseases. The dried leaves are beneficial to the stomach. As a food, young leaves and young shoots of the plant can be eaten - raw or cooked. The root is edible but very fibrousy and not very flavorable. The nutritional content is not known.
JUST FOR FUN: We were delighted to receive an email from Barbara Hjermstad recently asking for assistance in identifying her flower. The 'balloons' in her photo (technically they are calyx) belonged to a mystery plant that we originally sighted two years ago! We had never seen the bloom! Nearly 400 miles and 2 years later flower meets plant and the 'who' is revealed. Ironically the plants are sometimes called... Modesty.More Wildflowers West photographs here.Plant location: The flower, contributed by Barbara Hjermstad, comes from Durango Colorado. Foliage and calyx from the Adams County Regional Park, Thornton Colorado - September 11, 2008.Bloom season: June through September.
Spreading Fleabane (Erigeron divergens), family Asteraceae
Ah the fleabanes. The name of course is obvious, they were once thought to repel fleas. And we cannot verify that for sure, was it an old wives tale? Something borne of fact? What we do know for sure about these plants is that they are quite hardy for the delicate look they display. Drought resistant, once they are established, they need very little water. The key to identifying these plants is that the growth is in clumps or groups. Another charactaristic is that the leaves and stems of the Spreading are quite hairy. The genus includes something like 390 species with a generous distribution of members in North America; 173 to be found there. See the next thumbnail for the Trailing Fleabane.
Plant location: Foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado on June 6, 2008Bloom season: A generous season, these can be found open for enjoyment during the spring, summer, and fall months.
Trailing Fleabane (Erigeron flagellaris), family Asteraceae. Another fleabane, the other fleabane. Both these flowers are very common in Colorado where we saw this specimen. The plant fit the descriptions to a tee. Growing much less densely than the Spreading Fleabane from the previous panel, they were also less hairy than the Spreading. This dear looking little flower is an important source of nectar for small butterflies. If you care for them, plant some trailing fleabane in your garden.
Plant location: Foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado on June 6, 2008Bloom season: Not as long as the Spreading Fleabane, these bloom during the spring and summer.