Bird's-foot Trefoil -or- Birdfoot Deervetch (Lotus corniculatus), family Fabaceae (Pea/Bean)
A small bit of water lined a ditch running along a stretch of the Jackson Highway and inspired many wildflowers large and small within this rich habitat, including these pretty bud-like blooms. Bird's-foot Trefoil grows throughout the Pacific Northwest and is a coastal bloomer as well as in other habitats. The flowers of Lotus corniculatus can turn a reddish shade with age. Our specimen was freshly blooming and at it's peak. I don't remember seeing any 'neighbors' showing a reddish hue either. We will keep our eyes peeled next year, and a bit later in the season, for an example. The plant is
not native coming from both Eruasia and North Africa. Here it is planted for pastures. Many a cow might be seen nibbling Bird'sfeet. Not surprising since our Lotus corniculatus belongs to the Fabaceae family, otherwise known as the pea, bean, and legume family. And get this - it is the third largest family of flowering plants with 730 genera and NINETEEN THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED species!
Plant location: These refreshing bright flowers were seen along a country roadside close to Toledo Washington in late June 2007.Bloom period: May through September.
Heartleaf Arnica (Arnica cordifolia), family Asteraceae (Aster or Sunflower)
What a cheerful display these flowers make! As usual we forgot to sample the aroma. It is said to have a lovely lemon fragrance. There are only 30 species in the genus Arnica. As widespread as these plants are in the west they have been listed as endangered in the state of Michigan. Arnica cordifolia appears to hybridize with A. latifolia throughout most of its range. The beneficial uses of arnica are well known.
This particular species is described in the website Native American Ethnobotany as follows: Shuswap Drug (Eye Medicine) Plant used for sore eyes; Thompson Drug (Antirheumatic (External) Poultice of mashed plant used for swellings; Thompson Drug (Dermatological
Aid) Poultice of mashed plant used for bruises and cuts; Thompson Drug (Tuberculosis Remedy) Infusion of plant taken for tuberculosis; AND ah ha.... Okanagan-Colville Drug (Love Medicine) Roots used as a love medicine!! At Plants for a Future the species is even listed as used as a hair conditioner. It also notes: 'The whole plant is toxic and should only be used for external applications to unbroken skin'. The information was noted from author Schofield. J. J. Discovering Wild Plants - Alaska, W. Canada and the Northwest. A nice guide to some useful plants in that area.
Plant location: Seen near the Moose Visitor Center near Gould Colorado on July 31, 2008. Quote:'In alpine areas or in open places along roads, the leaves may be narrower and without the notch at the base of the blade. All western species have paired leaves on the stems, but only this one has heart-shaped leaves.'End quote.
Bloom period: June to August. This excellent information on the differences between our specimen and the similiar Broadleaf Arnica (latifolia) comes from the outstanding website Southwest Colorado Wildflowers: 'Arnica latifolia is uncommon in the Four Corners area; there are no records of it anywhere in Arizona. A. latifolia is similar to Arnica cordifolia in many of its features but also has a number of differences: its basal leaves are usually withered at flowering time (A. cordifolia's are often present); the petioles of its lower stem leaves are shorter than the leaves (versus longer in A. cordifolia); its phyllaries do not have the tuft of hairs at their tips that A. cordifolia's usually do; and, of course, its leaves are not cordate.'End
Common Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare), family Asteraceae (Aster)
Considered to be an invasive species, we have seen extensive showings of plants in the many areas of the Pacific Northwest where we hike. USES:
The plants have been used to substitute for the herb sage in cooking but also is known to be toxic in large quantities to some animals. We read in WIKIPEDIA that tansy was in the past quite a highly regarded flavoring. Quote: 'In Yorkshire, tansy and caraway seeds were traditionally used in biscuits served at funerals.' Ok! That is an interesting sidenote due to the fact that almost all tansy species are toxic and had to administered under strict conditions and doses. However it was effective treating migraine, neuralgia, and rheumatism. Tansy could
kill you ... and your loved ones could have eaten biscuits flavored with it at your funeral. Some unethical uses of tansy had been suspected in cases of miscarriages as well.
Plant location: We saw this specimen hiking Esmerelda Basin (near Cle Elum Washington) in June of 2007.Bloom period: late summer to fall.
Broadleaf Arnica (Arnica latifolia), family Asteraceae (Aster or Sunflower)
We have to shake our heads at times over the naming of plants. The foliage of this arnica is named broadleaf, whose leaves are quite narrow comapred to the heartleaf species shown in the previous panel. Sheesh! This species is native to British Columbia, and latifolia hybridizes with A. cordifolia, so numerous intermediates may be encountered when exploring. As with cordifolia this ia a perennial forb/herb.
Plant location: Seen in the Adams County Open Space off of 120th in Thornton Colorado on September 9, 2008. This is a montane to subalpine dweller. Distribution is quite broad: (AK, AZ, CA, CO, ID, MI, MT, ND, NM, NV, OR, SD, UT, WA, WY), CAN (AB, BC, MB, NT, ON, SK, YT). Bloom period: Shorter than our previous specimen; Commonly June and July. Our example was later. This excellent information on the differences between our specimen and the similiar Broadleaf Arnica (latifolia) comes from the outstanding website Southwest Colorado Wildflowers: 'Arnica latifolia is uncommon in the Four Corners area; there are no records of it anywhere in Arizona. A. latifolia is similar to Arnica cordifolia in many of its features but also has a number of differences: its basal leaves are usually withered at flowering time (A. cordifolia's are often present); the petioles of its lower stem leaves are shorter than the leaves (versus longer in A. cordifolia); its phyllaries do not have the tuft of hairs at their tips that A. cordifolia's
usually do; and, of course, its leaves are not cordate.'
Sticky cinquefoil (Potentilla glandulosa), family Rosaceae (Rose)
A bloomer all through summer, it is found in a wide range of habitats including meadows, subalpine, and alpine environments. The genus Potentilla is another well membered group of plants with about 500 species! It is another genus of the Rosaceae family and is native to North America. USES:
The website Plants for a Future speaks of the Sticky cinquefoil as a good poultice for swelling, applied externally.Plant location: seen outside of Cle Elum Washington in June 2007. Planning a visit
to Yellowstone National Park? See this plant there as we did on August 29, 2009. The plant was located at GPS coordinates N44.46.771 W110.27.399, elevation 8817'.Bloom period: All through the summer with a huge area of distribution.
Arches Biscuitroot (Lomatium latilobum), family Apiaceae (Carrot)
What a privilage to have seen this plant!!! This special plant lives a most circumscribed exsistence. Per the website for Arches National Park is this: 'Lomatium latilobum is endemic to Grand and San Juan Counties in Utah and Mesa County in Colorado. The type specimen was collected on Wilson Mesa in Grand County. It is typically found living in the sand from Entrada sandstone. Unfortunately, it can be killed with one misplaced footstep. This plant is a C2 federal species of concern. C2 are taxa for which the information now in the possession of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service indicates that proposing to list them as endangered or threatened species is possibly
appropriate, but for which substantial data on biological vulnerability and threat(s) are not currently known or on file to support the immediate preparation of rules.' The genus Lomatium hosts between 70-80 species which are native to North America.
The name Biscuitroot is a give-away. Native American made use of the roots of a number of the species as a food source. The ground roots made a good flour, tasting like parsnip, celery, or er....stale biscuits! Quote 'Lomatium dissectum has been used as herbal medicines for cough and upper respiratory infections, including tuberculosis'. Knowing of any such uses of this particular species would doubtless give us a heart attack since these plants are so rare!!! A huge numer of uses by Native Americans of members of this genus is recorded but not one of this species. The area was known to be frequented by Native American for harvesting and hunting purposes but was not lived in on a permanent basis.
Plant location: Arches National Park is the home of this specimen and very little elsewhere. The sighting was March 13, 2009. The specimen is very young, surrounded by the white remains of last years growth. The habitat for the plant is desert shrub and pinyon-juniper communities.
Bloom period: In Arches they can be seen from February through April. The Arches National Park is a 77,000 acre area. Specific divisions of the park are distinguished by name. In only three of these areas is the Arches Biscuitroot sighted. The plant came to our attention in the visitor center. We expressed interest in the general area plant life and were informed of the exsistence of this special resident of the park. We booked a 3 hour foot tour of the section called the Fiery Furnace just for the opportunity to see this plant. Nowhere we visited the previous day yielded a sighting of it. For anyone interested, the tour was a wonderful experiences. We highly recommend it. The plant is a perennial herb.
Silvercrown Luina (Cacaliopsis nardosmia), family Asteraceae
According to the NATIONAL AUDUBON SOCIETY FIELD GUIDE TO WILDFLOWERS, western region, the nardosmia is the one and only species in the genus Cacaliopsis, monotypic. This is interesting in view of the fact that the family including this genus, Asteraceae is HUGE; 1600 genera and 23,000 species!! The plant is native to North America, a perennial, with a rhizome stem structure.
Plant location: Seen on May 19, 2007 hiking Ingalls Creek (Washington state). This location falls within the Alpine Wilderness area and was a standout hike for wildflowers. We have never seen such a diversity of blooms in one location anywhere else. We can't wait to hike this in the 2008 season! Bloom period: May through July. The foliage of this plant was photographed on June 9, 2007 in the Cle Elum Washington area.
Rydberg's Twinpod -or- Sharpleaf Twinpod (Physaria acutifolia), family Brassicaceae (Mustard)
This is a cheerful looking flower, nice bright yellow. The foliage is very hairy and almost milky looking. The name of the plant is a little deceptive since the blooms do not conform in doubles. The shape of the seed is the descriptor here. The mustard family is large, containing over 330 genera and about 3,700 species. There are only about 24 species in Physaria with about 12 in the convergent area of the Four Corners. According to Southwest Colorado Wildflowers the seeds produced by the plant are good propagators with one plant often living within about 15 feet of another.
Plant location: Arches National Park, we saw examples in different locations in the park both days we were there - March 12 and 13, 2009. Per NPIN the native distribution of the plant is Idaho and Montana south to Nevada and New Mexico; mostly within drainage of Colorado River. However USDA has these states as locations: Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming. The types of habitats are dry, rocky or gravelly areas in arid shrublands, aspen forests, coniferous forests, and alpine tundra. Quite a good range.
Bloom period: In Arches National Park the plants blooms from February through April. In some locations it is known to bloom as late as August.
Slender or Fivefinger Cinquefoil (Potentilla gracilis) of the Rose family (Rosaceae)
The variety is said to be one of the most variable of the Cinquefoils making exact identification challenging.
Plant location: This example was found off the roadside in the area of Cle Elum Washington, June 2007.Bloom period: Commonly seen from late spring through early summer.
Shadscale -or- Spiny saltbush -or- Shadscale saltbush -or- Hop sage (Atriplex confertifolia), family Chenopodiaceae (Goosefoot)
Dear Viewers you may be at this moment asking yourselves if Wildflowers West has lost it. WHY is a purple flowered plant in the yellows? Our specimen was immature at the time we sighted and photographed it. The attractive purple 'blooms' are not 'blooms' or 'petals', they are bracts. Later, from these, emerge the yellow flowers proper! Having seen photos our opinion is the purple is much prettier. In this species the male and females are their own plants. There are a generous 111 species in the genus Atriplex. Per WIKIPEDIA is this: 'Compared to fourwing saltbush, shadscale has shorter and wider leaves and the fruit does not have four wings (although it may have two wings in a "V" shape). Shadscale fruits and leaves provide important winter browse for both domestic livestock and native herbivores.' End quote. On the family naming.... 'Prior to the incorporation of Chenopodiaceae, the Amaranthaceae (in their narrow circumscription) contained only about 65 genera and 900 species. Most of these species occur in tropical Africa and North America'. The flowering plant family Amaranthaceae, the Amaranth family, now contains about 160 genera and 2,400 species. USES:
Whatever name and family is used, there is a solid base of positive uses of this plant for humans. Native American Ethnobotany -and- Plants for a Future have records of various edible and medicinal uses on the plants. Plants for a Future gives the species a FOUR apple edibility rating, saying this: 'Leaves - cooked and used as greens. The water in which the leaves is
cooked is used in making corn pudding. Seed - used in pi?ole or ground into a meal and used as a thickener in making bread or mixed with flour in making bread.' See the bloom period slide for additional Native American uses.Plant location: Sighted at the Arches National Park near Moab Utah on March 12, 2009. This plant view of the specimen was photographed early in the new growth season. Most of the plant is actually the dead remains of last years growth with the new emerging from that. The insets show the newer healthy foliage. Habitats include halophytic (salty) and gravelly, fine-textured soils. Per Southwest Colorado Wildflowers; 'Semi-desert, foothills. Shrublands, openings.' Also alkaline desert valleys; hillsides, and bluffs. The plant is native to the western United States with a distribution in AZ, CA, CO, ID, MT, ND, NM, NV, OR, TX, UT, WY according to the USDA plant database.
Bloom period: Commonly April through July. In Arches National Park where our specimen was located the plant blooms March through April and can be seen along the walk to the Delicate Arch viewpoint. This is a desert shrub and grows in pinyon-juniper communities. Per the website Native American Ethnobotany there is a varied number of uses of this species by a number of different Native American tribes: Hopi Drug (Anticonvulsive) Plant burned and smoke inhaled for epileptic medicine - Navajo Drug (Veterinary Aid) Plant rubbed on horses to repel gnats - Paiute, Northern Drug (Antirheumatic (External) Leaves boiled and used as a liniment for sore muscles and aches and decoction of leaves taken for colds - Gosiute Food, Seeds formerly used
for food - Hopi Food (Pie & Pudding) Leaves boiled in water, the water mixed with corn meal and baked into a pudding, used as flavoring with meat or other vegetables, boiled with meat, and young, tender leaves cooked and eaten as greens - Kawaiisu Other (Hunting & Fishing Item) Hard wood used to make arrow points.
Northern buckwheat (Eriogonum compositum), family Polygonaceae (Buckwheat)
Northern buckwheat is a known inhabitant of this region with some very interesting comments from WIKIPEDIA: 'Eriogonum is the scientific name for a genus of flowering plants, in the family Polygonaceae. The genus is found in North America and is known as Wild Buckwheat. This is a highly species-rich genus, and indications are that active speciation is continuing. It includes some common wildflowers such as the California Buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum). It came into the news in 2005 when the Mount Diablo Buckwheat (Eriogonum truncatum, believed to be extinct) was rediscovered. Eriogonum species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera
(butterflies and moths). Several of these are monophagous, meaning that their caterpillars only feed on this genus, sometimes just on a single taxon of Eriogonum. Wild buckwheat flowers are also an important source of food for these and other Lepidoptera. In some cases, the relationship is so close that Eriogonum and dependent Lepidoptera are in danger of coextinction.' End quote. The article on the discovery of the Mt Diablo Buckwheat is interesting as well. Go to WIKIPEDIA to read up!
Plant location: Again Cle Elum Washington, June 2007.Bloom period: May through July. We found this plant on an outing seeking relief from the incessant rain in Seattle. This was in a much drier arid environment.
Arrowleaf Balsamroot (Balsamorhize sagittata), family Asteraceae (Aster/Sunflower)
The following quote is from the Idaho Panhandle National Forest website: Edible and medicinal value: Native Americans would peel and eat raw the tender inner portion of the young immature flower stems. They also ate the large roots and seeds. The roots are tough and woody and taste like balsam. To make them more palatable, the Indians would bake them several days in a fire pit. Medicinally, the Indians used the large coarse Balsamroot leaves as a poultice for burns. The roots were boiled and the solution was applied as a poultice for wounds, cuts and bruises. Indians also drank a tea from the roots for tuberculosis and whooping cough. End quote. This flower belongs to the family Asteraceae. Asters ie daisy and sunflowers Plant location: Found in Cle Elum Washington, early June 2007.Bloom period: May through July.
Puncturevine or Goat Head (Tribulus Terrestris), family Zygophyllaceae (Caltrop)
This sweet little flower so resembles Cinquefoil that is what we first thought it was. Nope. Wrong. There are approximately 250 species in this family. This particular species is quite interesting. Quote: 'Puncturevine naturally ranges from the Mediterranean and Africa to the drier parts of Asia (Andr?s & Angelet 1963). It was accidentally introduced into the midwestern United States with livestock imported from the Mediterranean area. Puncturevine now occurs broadly in the United States but is most common in the southwestern states. It arrived in California around 1900,
apparently as a railroad ballast contaminant, and spread rapidly along railroads and highways.
As an agricultural plant its spiny fruit interferes with hand harvesting, injury livestock and contaminate seed, feed and wool (Johnson 1932). The seeds can survive burial for 20 years. The Greeks used the medicinal herb Tribulus terrestris as a diuretic and a mood-enhancer. Eastern Indians used it as a diuretic, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory. Tribulus is mentioned in ancient China and Indian Ayurvedic texts dating back thousands of years. The Chinese have used Tribulus in their Materia Medica for over 400 years and have used it for a variety of liver, kidney, dizziness, psoriasis, eczema, premature ejaculation and cardiovascular diseases. The people of Bulgaria used Tribulus terrestris as a sex enhancer and to treat infertility.'A more western orientation in usage is thus: Tribulus Terrestris is used in various herbal formulas to treat headaches, eye problems such as itching, conjunctivitis
and weak vision, pain relief, enhancement of the immune system, improved mood and sense of well-being, cholesterol reduction, and relief of premenstrual (PMS), menopausal symptoms in women, and nervousness, making it a great menopause herb. In women, hormonal imbalances can lead to the typical unpleasant symptoms associated with PMS and menopause.It is also used to treat high blood pressure and rib pain. Recently, eastern European athletes and strength champions have used it as well. Many athletes and bodybuilders have found tribulus a safe and natural alternative to anabolic steroids. Tribulus is especially helpful given the typical western diet where the liver is overburdened by too much sugar and fat. The overall effect is that tribulus terrestris leads to a more balanced hormonal system in both men and women. Tribulus stimulates the bile flow and breakdown of fats in the liver thus contributing to a more regular bowel pattern and effective elimination of toxins from the liver. More efficient fat metabolism
can make the blood less "sticky", consequently benefiting blood pressure. Improved fat metabolism also benefits oxygenation which creates energy within the cells for use in the body. As for side effects, about one in ten people have associated some gastrointestinal upset with taking Tribulus terrestris. Taking food with it can minimize these effects if you are that one in ten. No known negative effects presently exist when Tribulus is used as a dietary supplement. Tribulus exhibits a mild diuretic effect. Using Tribulus can help to counter the vasoconstricting effects of caffine and nicotine. Plant location: Adams County Open Space, the area adjacent to 120th. The date was September 11, 2008. This plant can be found in almost every state of the U.S. and in many states is classed as a noxious weed. Common areas found are sandy areas along roads, vacant lots, sidewalks, yards, and in our case an open field. Noxious weed it is, however, see the health benefits (discussed in the flower panel text) associated with substances from this plant. Notice the solitary growth pattern of the inflorescence and the superior ovary.Bloom period: April to October. It is an annual herb.
Scorched Penstemon -or- Yellow Penstemon (Penstemon confertus), was family Scrophulariaceae (Figwort), re-classed to family Plantaginaceae (Plantain)
Plants from this genus are also known as Beardtongue. See WIKIPEDIA for a detailed account of the changes. The name of the plant was a bit ironic for this particular sighting. The plant had seen better days and indeed looked rather 'scorched'. Since this is the only example of this Penstemon species that we have seen we felt it is relevant to include it on the site. Per Dee Strickler from his book Northwest Penstemons confertus may hybridize with Penstemon procerus and produce pink flowers. As is, the species is one of only a few penstemons that are yellow. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs). USES:
According to the website Plants for a Future'A tea-like beverage is made by boiling the dried leaves and stems for a short time. If made too strong, it can have a purgative effect
on the body. A decoction of the outer bark has been used in the treatment of stomach troubles. The roasted and powdered stems and leaves have been used as a dressing on sores, cuts and wounds -AND- to make a dye the flowers can be boiled and then rubbed on items to give them an indelible blue colouring'. End quote
Plant location: Sighted in the area of Twisp Washington on July 27, 2007. The plants have been found from Southeastern British Columbia and SW Alberta to the Cascade Foothills in Washington, West Montana, and Northeast Oregon. The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires dry or moist soil. Bloom period: May to August by some accounts, and July to September by others. Many plant blooms vary by locations and specific conditions.
Dwarf Goldenrod (Solidago spathulata ssp. nana), family Asteraceae (Aster)
This plant has many common names which are also used for other species. What a cause for confusion! A close species in the same genus is Solidago multiradiata which is larger and it's flowers have more rays - 13 as opposed to 8 of our sample. Thus dwarf is a helpful common name to use. 'The goldenrod is the state flower of the U.S. states of Kentucky (adopted March 16, 1926) and Nebraska (adopted April 4, 1895). It used to be the state flower of Alabama, being adopted as such on September 6, 1927, but was later rejected in favour of the camellia. Goldenrod
was recently named the state wildflower for South Carolina.' There are a number of beneficial uses of goldenrod: 'The flowering stems are antiseptic, haemostatic and salve. An infusion of the dried powdered herb can be used as an antiseptic. A poultice of the toasted, powdered leaves has been mixed with oil and used in the treatment of mumps.'From WIKIPEDIA: About 100 perennial species make up the genus Solidago, most being found in the meadows and pastures, along roads, ditches and waste areas in North America. There are a handful of species from each of Mexico, South America, and Eurasia. Some American species have also been introduced into Europe some 250 years ago. Goldenrods can be used for decoration and making tea. Goldenrods are, in some places, held as a sign of good luck or good fortune; but they are considered weeds by others. Goldenrods are mostly short-day plants and bloom in late summer and early fall and some species produce abundant nectar when
moisture is plentiful before bloom, and the bloom period is relatively warm and sunny. Honey from goldenrods often is dark and strong due to admixtures of other nectars. However when there is a strong honey flow, a light (often water white), spicy-tasting honey is produced. While the bees are ripening the honey there is a rank odor and taste, but finished honey is much milder.
Plant location: Sighted near the Moose Center Hwy 14 in Colorado on July 31, 2008. This subalpine and alpine dweller can be found in sunny exposed areas, ridges, and boulder fields. 'The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline)
soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.'Bloom period: July to September.