Prostrate Lupine (Lupinus lepidus var. lobbii), family Fabaceae (Pea).
There are approximately 165 species of Lupinus. A really interesting bit on this family comes from The National Audubon Society Field Guide to Wildflowers - quote 'There are many annual Lupines. The oldest known viable seeds, discovered in 1967 frozen in a lemming burrow, are from an Arctic lupine estimated to be 10,000 years old; when planted the seeds germinated in 48 hours.' End quote. While not quite as showy as their larger 'cousins', we enjoyed the healthy compact looks of the foliage. It was a very nice compliment to the blooms.
The Oregon Flora Project has an excellent photo gallery of images of plants. See it here. For a great macro closeup of this bloom look here. Another great source of plant information is the WTU Herbarium Image Collection - Burke Museum, here.Plant location: The photograph was taken on a hike in Bird Creek Meadows, the Mt Adams area, in mid September 2007.Bloom period: approximately June through August.
This STUNNING flower is the state flower of Colorado. The beauty of these flowers is so great that we felt compelled to offer more than (the typical) one panel of photographs of these flowers. The varients in color seemed to support this impulse as well. The habitat of this species is alpine, subalpine, and montane. There are 60-70 species of columbine in this genus. It is a herbacious perennial. The fact that the plants seeds and roots are POISONOUS is not often noted by many of the sources we use to learn about wildflowers. This information
comes from WIKIPEDIA; 'The flowers of various species of Aquilegia were consumed in moderation by Native Americans as a condiment with other fresh greens, and are reported to be very sweet, and safe if consumed in small quantities. The plant's seeds and roots are highly poisonous, and contain cardiogenic toxins which cause both severe gastroenteritis and heart palpitations if consumed as food. Native Americans used very small amounts of Aquilegia root as an effective treatment for ulcers, however, the use of this plant internally is best avoided due to its high toxicity.' End quote. We have seen only two of the color varients said to be produced by our species coerulea which include a lovely yellow-pink varient that we will search for gladly. The species is native to the Rocky Mountains from Montana south to New Mexico and west to Idaho and Arizona.
Plant location: July 16, 2008 in the Rocky Mountain National Park Colorado. We have seen this species on Mt Evans in Colorado as well. The elevation of the plants in the photograph(s) was approximately 10,000'.Bloom period: June through August.
Western Trillium -or- Western Wake Robin (Trillium ovatum), family Trilliaceae (Trillium).
The simple and elegant Trillium of the Melanthiaceae family is always a treat to look upon. The flower of this species is offset by large green bracts that give the plant a sturdy healthy look. Like some orchids, the plant is seriously challenged if the flowers are picked. It is illegal in Washington among other states to pick the flowers since the plant can die or take years to recover. There are about 40-50 species in the genus and the plants are native to both North America and Asia.
FunFacts: A most interesting thing that I didn't know about the plant world is that some plant's leaves are actually underground!! WIKIPEDIA has this to say: 'The above ground parts of Trilliums are
scapes with three large, leafy bracts with the true leaves underground as a papery covering around the rhizomes.' End quote. More than one surprise revealed itself during our research on this plant. Another interesting factoid from WIKIPEDIA involves the propagation of the plant: 'Trillium is one of many plants whose seeds are spread by ants and mice. Trillium seeds have a fleshy organ called an elaiosome that attracts ants. The ants take the seeds to their nest, where they eat the elaiosomes and put the seeds in their garbage, where they can be protected until they germinate. They also get the added bonus of growing in a medium made richer by the ant garbage.' End quote. See the WHITE Trillium here.Plant location: Seen on May 19, 2007 hiking the Ingalls Creek Trail, Alpine Wilderness area of Washington State.Bloom period: February through June, the plant is a perennial. These specimens were photographed by Mark at the same hike along with white Trillium. See them in the section of Whites, page 3. These plants were sighted before we were taking technical photographs of wildflowers.
This WHITE VARIENT of Columbine was a lovely surprise. We did not known of the different colors of blooms that these plants produce. The previous panel mentions information on the TOXIC aspects of these plants. In addition, there are five varieties of the flowers that have been hybridized; alpina, caerulea, daileyae, ochroleuca, pinetorum. We will happily publish additional photographs of other colors of Rocky Mountain Columbine as we find them.
Plant location: July 16, 2008 in the Rocky Mountain National Park Colorado. We have seen this species on Mt Evans in Colorado as well. The elevation of the plants in the photograph(s) was approximately 10,000'.Bloom period: June through August.
Jeffery's Shooting Star (Dodecatheon jeffreyi), family Primulaceae (Primrose).
This is a fairly small genus with only 14 species. The genus is found mostly in North America, but is known in a limited area of Siberia. The pollination of this plant is described as 'buzz pollination', a process done by bees. The bees grab the petals of the flowers and vibrate their wings. The motion shakes pollen loose from the anthers of the flower!
Plant location: Seen on June 17, 2007 hiking Esmerelda Basin, Cle Elum Washington.Bloom period: a midsummer blooming perennial.
Purple Fringe -or- Silky Phacelia (Phacelia sericea), family Hydrophyllaceae (Waterleaf).
This striking looking bloom is favored not only by gardeners for show, but by mule deer, elk, mountain goats, and black bears all of whom graze on the plants for forage. The genus houses about 200 species which are native to North America, the eastern United States, and South America. There is some botanical debate as to the classification of this genus. Per WIKIPEDIA is this; 'The genus is traditionally placed at family rank with the waterleaves (Hydrophyllaceae) in the order Boraginales. The Angiosperm Phylogeny Group, recognizing that the traditional Boraginaceae and Hydrophyllaceae
are paraphyletic with respect to each other merges the latter into the former and considers the family basal in the Euasterids I clade. Other botanists continue to recognize the Hydrophyllaceae and Boraginales, but to make them monophyletic the present genus be moved to the Boraginaceae.' End quote. An interesting tidbit from the book WILD AT HEART by Janis Lindsay Huggins, is that the roots of our species are cyanide-bearing and collect GOLD from the soil.
Plant location: Mt Evans Colorado July 2008.Bloom period: June through August.
Common Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia), family Campanulaceae (Bellflower).
This is a flower that is easy on the eyes. Simple, but an especially pretty shade of blue. The flowers prefer an elevation of less than 8000 feet, making a more likely sighting for us low altitude hikers. The genus is another of the huge groups. There are approximately 300 species, with subspecies in the numbers as well. One of the more famous associations of origins of the plant is the Scottish Bluebell. The plant is described as showing in white and purple in addition to the blue. Common harebell is native to temperate North America.
USES: Per the fine website Plants For A Future, the leaves of common harebell can be eaten raw or cooked. Records of Native American uses from Native American Ethnobotany show only medicinal applications: Chippewa; Infusion of root used as drops for sore ear. Cree; Root chewed for heart ailments. Navajo, Ramah; Plant used as ceremonial fumigant for head trouble. Plant used as ceremonial fumigant for various ailments. Plant used as ceremonial fumigant for eye. Plant rubbed on body for protection while hunting. Plant rubbed on body for protection from witches. Ojibwa; Compound containing root used for lung troubles. Thompson; Decoction of plant taken or used as a wash for sore eyes.The names occuring in the scientific world amuse us more than ever since our study of botany has come into our lives. For example, the Harebell is food for the larvae of some pretty interesting sounding moths; Common Pug, Dot Moth, Ingrailed Clay, the Lime-speck Pug, and the Mouse Moth. See the other Campanula plant -
Rampion Harebell - found at: Wildflowers West
Plant location: Seen on September 8, 2007 hiking the Naches Loop Trail in Mt Rainier, Washington state.Bloom period: July through August, with annual, biennial, and perennials in the genus.
Monkshood -or- Wolfbane (Aconitum columbianum), family Ranunculaceae (Buttercup).
The primary thing to know about this plant is that it is POISONOUS. One of our newest reference books, the excellent publication Wild At Heart by Janis Lindsey Huggins, is a rich source of information on the lethal aspects of this plant; 'Monkshood association with the monastic life seems ironic, as the plants in this genus contain potent poisons, notably aconitine. In monkshood, the seeds and tuberous roots contain the highest degree of aconitine, which varies from species to species. Legend has it that monkshood sprang from the frothing slaive of Cerberus, the dog that
guards the gates of Hades. It has been used for wolf and rat poison in Europe and in poison-tipped arrows to kill predators in China and India. Shakespeare's Romeo was referring to aconite when he wished for a "dram of poison." Aconitum is still used in traditional medicine in India, China and neighboring countries, where it is processed to reduce the toxicity. Some U.S. herbalists use monkshood in liniments for sciatic pain. Germany's Commission E Monographs recommended usage only in homeopathic doses due to the extreme toxicity.' End quote. This FUN FACT is from Wikipedia; 'It was said in former times that wolfsbane was the only way to tell a werewolf: if the flower cast a yellow shadow on the suspected shape-shifter's chin, the werewolf test was positive.' End quote. Also PLEASE READ THIS also from Wikipedia; 'Marked symptoms appear within a few minutes of the administration of a poisonous dose of aconite. The initial signs are gastrointestinal. There is a sensation of burning, tingling, and
numbness in the mouth, and of burning in the abdomen. Usually death ensues before a numbing effect on the intestine can be observed. After about an hour, there is severe vomiting. Pronounced motor weakness and cutaneous sensations similar to those above described soon follow. The pulse and respiration steadily fail until death occurs from asphyxia. As in strychnine poisoning, the patient is conscious and clear-minded to the last. The only post-mortem signs are those of asphyxia. The treatment is to empty the stomach by tube or by a non-depressant emetic. The physiological antidotes are atropine and digitalis or strophanthin, which should be injected subcutaneously in maximal doses. The historic antidotes of alcohol, strychnine, and warmth may also be employed, although today few toxicological centres would recommend them. The above description of poisoning is characteristic of an oral administration. However, poisoning may occur simply by picking the leaves without wearing gloves; the aconitine toxin is absorbed
easily through the skin. From practical experience, the sap oozing from eleven picked leaves will cause cardiac symptoms for a couple of hours. In this event, there will be no gastrointestinal effects. Tingling will start at the point of absorption and extend up the arm to the shoulder, after which the heart will start to be affected. The tingling will be followed by numbness - it is fairly unpleasant. As remarked above, atropine is an antidote.' End quote. PLEASE take care when observing these plants. !!!DO NOT TOUCH THEM!!!Plant location: Seen on the Hessie Trail near Eldora Colorado on August 17, 2008. This area was rich in these flowers, we also saw blooms on the Lost Lake Trail #813. Habitats are higher montane and subalpine in moist conditions. Our sightings were in consistantly shady areas, as well as
moist places. Bloom period: June through August. Note that the foliage of Monkshood closely resembles some of the geraniums. These are non-toxic. Be careful if harvesting during times the flowers are not in bloom. Do avoid a mix-up, if intending to consume the plant.
Bittersweet -or- Bitter Nightshade, (Solanum dulcamara), family Solanaceae.
Per WIKIPEDIA: 'blue bindweed, climbing nightshade, fellenwort, felonwood, poisonberry, poisonflower, scarlet berry, snakeberry, trailing bittersweet, trailing nightshade, violet bloom or, woody nightshade) is a species of vine in the potato genus Solanum, family Solanaceae. It is native to Europe and Asia, and widely naturalised elsewhere, including North America, where it is an invasive problem weed. It occurs in a very wide range of habitats, from woodlands to scrubland, hedges and marshes. Bittersweet is a semi-woody herbaceous perennial vine, which scrambles
over other plants, capable of reaching a height of 4 m where suitable support is available, but more often 1-2 m high. The leaves are 4-12 cm long, roughly arrowhead-shaped, and often lobed at the base. The flowers are in loose clusters of 3-20, (1-1.5 cm) across, star-shaped, with five purple petals and yellow stamens and style pointing forward. The fruit is an ovoid red berry about 1 cm long, soft and juicy, poisonous to humans and livestock but edible for birds, which disperse the seeds widely. As with most Solanum species, the foliage is also poisonous to humans. Bittersweet is used in homeopathy and herbalism. Its main usage is for conditions that have an impact on the skin, mucous membrane and the membrane (synovial membrane) around the joints. Bittersweet is considered by some to be a herbal remedy for treating herpes and allergies.' End quote. An interesting plant.
Plant location: Seen on June 17, 2007 hiking Esmerelda Basin outside of Cle Elum Washington.Bloom period: Unknown.
Subalpine Larkspur -or- Tall Delphinium (Delphinium barbeyi), family Ranunculaceae (Buttercup).
Yet another poisonous plant is represented here. These delphiniums make a very pretty show and are slightly less hazardous to humans than Monkshood. The toxin is not as easily absorbed through the skin simply by handling these plants but caution should still be used. Educate children, especially, since the effectiveness of the toxin is approximate to body weight. Cattle appear to be more susceptable to delphinium poisoning that are sheep. Smaller amounts of the alkaloid based toxin actually have a beneficial use for humans in the form of shampoo and
rinses for control of lice. Animals can be treated as well. The genus delphinium hosts about 250 species and are native to North America. They are also located in tropical Africa in the high mountains. More interesting information comes from WIKIPEDIA: 'All parts of the plant contain an alkaloid delphinine and are very poisonous, causing vomiting when eaten, and death in larger amounts. In small amounts, extracts of the plant have been used in herbal medicine. Gerard's herball reports that drinking the seed of larkspur was thought to help against the stings of scorpions, and that other poisonous animals could not move when covered by the herb, but does not believe it himself. Grieve's herbal reports that the seeds can be used against parasites, especially lice and their nits in the hair. A tincture is used against asthma and dropsy. The juice of the flowers, mixed with alum, gives a blue ink. HJ The plant was connected to Saint Odile and in popular medicine used against eye diseases. It was one of the herbs
used on the feast of St. John and as such warded against lightning. In Transylvania, it was used to keep witches from the stables, probably because of its black color.' End quote. Some species of this genus are extremely endangered; baken and luteum. They live only in specific areas in California. Our specimen is particularly toxic to cows. Watch your bovines, folks.
Plant location: Hwy 550 between Silverton and Ouray Colorado on August 24, 2008. Approximate elevation 10,000'. These plants can be most commonly found in montane and subalpine habitats and in moist areas rather than dry ones.Bloom period: July through August.
Alpine Fireweed -or- Fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium), family Onagraceae (Willowherb or Evening Primrose).
This plant is also classified under the genus Epilobium. The showy display that these flowers make is delightful. They often grow in large groupings along roadsides as well as meadows where the marvelous color of their blooms lights up their surroundings. It can be found in elevations of up to 10,000'. This plant is called a pioneer species. It grows especially well in sites that have been previously burned. This USES material is quoted from WIKIPEDIA: 'The young shoots were often collected in the
spring by Native American people and their elderly folk and mixed with other greens. They are best when young and tender; as the plant matures the leaves become tough and somewhat bitter. The southeast Native Americans use the stems in the stage. They are peeled and eaten raw. When properly prepared soon after picking they are a good source of vitamin C and pro-vitamin A. The Dena'ina add fireweed to their dogs' food. Fireweed is also a medicine of the Upper Inlet Dena'ina, who treat pus-filled boils or cuts by placing a piece of the raw stem on the afflicted area. This is said to draw the pus out of the cut or boil and prevents a cut with pus in it from healing over too quickly. A flowering fireweed plantThe root can be roasted after scraping off the outside, but often tastes bitter. To mitigate this, collect the root before the plant flowers and remove the brown thread in the middle. In Alaska, candies, syrups, jellies, and even ice cream are made from fireweed. Monofloral honey made primarily from fireweed
nectar has a distinctive, spiced flavor. Because fireweed can colonize disturbed sites, even following an old oil spill, it is often used to reestablish vegetation. It grows in (and is native to) a variety of temperate to arctic ecosystems.' End quote.
Plant location: The panels are made from multiple sightings of this plant, Canada Banff National Park August 2006, and Nisqually Washington mid June 2007. Quote WIKIPEDIA: 'The reddish stems of this herbaceous perennial are usually simple, erect, smooth, 0.5-2.5 m (1?-8 feet) high with scattered alternate leaves. The leaves are entire, lanceolate, and pinnately veined. A relative species, Dwarf Fireweed (Epilobium latifolium), grows to 0.3-0.6 m tall. The radially symmetrical flowers have four magenta
to pink petals, 2 to 3 cm in diameter. The styles have four stigmas, which occur in symmetrical terminal racemes.' End quote. One of these plants can produce up to 80,000 seeds!!Bloom period: June through September.
Little Gentian -or- Autumn Gentian (Gentianella amarella ssp heterosepala), family Gentianaceae (Gentian).
We almost missed these low to the ground, very delicate flowers. How lovely they are! This species is part of the dwarf gentian group. There are roughly a dozen only species. The plant releases it seeds from the fruit it produces in caspsule form. The Gentian family at large is quite diverse with 87 genera and over 1500 species. The Dune Gentian occurs in Wales and Scotland in small areas and is endangered. This specimen is subspecies of amarella; heterosepala. An excellent discussion of the differences between it and acuta can be found on the website Southwest Colorado Wildflowers.
The key to this identification comes from the fact that this specimen's fringe is not continuous to its junction with the inside of the petal. See inset.
Plant location: Hwy 550 between Silverton and Ouray Colorado on August 24, 2008. Another moist habitat lover of the montane and subalpine areas. Our specimen was not in or even near a stream or creek, but the area was fairly moist. Loose sandy soil.Bloom period: July to September.
Tall Bluebells -or- Tall Lungwort (Mertensia paniculata), family Boraginaceae (Borage).
This is a flower whose appearance can be easily overwhelmed by it's foliage. Yet a close look at the flowers reveals a delicate bell shaped flower that is a very pretty shade of blue. The plants grow to approximately 8000 feet in elevation, with about 40 genrra in the family and 18 species in the genus.
These photographs are from two sightings, Denny Creek-Milakwa Lake in July 2005, and Mt Rainier Washington July 2007. The plants are found in these United States: AK, CT, IA, ID, MI, MN, MT, OR, WA, WI. Bloom period: Early summer.
This unidentified plant is a member on one HUGE family!! This lovely and delicate looking example from the group displays characteristics in our opinion of two genus; Vicia and Astragalus.
Fabaceae is so large that there are three subfamilies. Per WIKIPEDIA is this; 'The Fabaceae comprise three subfamilies (with distribution and some representative species): * Mimosoideae: 80 genera and 3,200 species. Mostly tropical and warm temperate Asia and America. Mimosa, Acacia. * Caesalpinioideae: 170 genera and 2,000 species, cosmopolitan. Senna, Cassia. * Faboideae: 470 genera and 14,000 species, cosmopolitan. Astragalus, Lupinus. These three subfamilies have been alternatively treated at family level,
as in the Cronquist and Dahlgren systems. However, this choice has not been supported by late 20th century and early 21st century evidence which has shown the Caesalpinioideae to be paraphyletic and the Fabaceae sensu lato to be monophyletic.' On the family is this; 'Fabaceae is the third largest family of flowering plants, behind Orchidaceae and Asteraceae, with 730 genera and over 19,400 species according to the Royal Botanical Gardens. The largest genera are Astragalus with more than 2,000 species, and Acacia with more than 900 species, and Indigofera with around 700 species. Other large genera include Crotalaria with 600 species and Mimosa with 500 species. The species of this family are found throughout the world, growing in many different environments and climates. A number are important agricultural plants, including: Glycine max (soya bean), Phaseolus (bean), Pisum sativum (pea), Medicago sativa (alfalfa), and Arachis hypogaea (peanut), which are amongst the most well-known members of Fabaceae. A number of species are also weedy pests in different parts of the world, including: Cytisus scoparius (broom) and Pueraria lobata (kudzu), and number of Lupinus species.' End quote.
Plant location: We saw these flowers in the Rocky Mountain National Park on July 17, 2008.Bloom period: unknown
Alpine Forget-Me-Not (Eritrichium nanum var. elongatum) family Boraginaceae (Borage).
Another example of a delicate looking plant that is a power-house for survival, the harsh environment that hosts this plant can be relentless. It survives and flourishes at high altitudes with attitude. An interesting trait of these plants is that the plants produce flowers of different sizes to decrease chances of inbreeding. The larger flowers are male, with the smaller being female; plants are either one or the other. In the male flowers the stamens stick out past the stigma. The stigmas of female flowers are larger. These plants grow very close to the ground. The harsh effects of the high winds that can be common in the alpine habitat are thus minimized. This spcies is another celebrity plant. It is the state flower of Alaska. The Borage family hosts about 100 genus with approximately 2000 species.
Plant location: Sighted twice in a few day's span; Mt Evans Colorado at 14,200' and in the Rocky Mountain National Park. July 15 and 17th, 2008.Bloom period: June and July. Note the lack of apparent foliage. This is one hairy plant. It looks to have fiber instead of foliage!
Canada Thistle -or- Creeping Thistle (Cirsium arvense), family Asteraceae (Aster or Sunflower).
We enjoyed the look of these nicely colored flowers. They made a nice show on the roadside, so much so that we stopped to photograph them. Further research brings to light some problems in Colorado with these plants. The following information is from the Colorado State University Extension website:'an aggressive, creeping perennial weed that infests Crops, pastures, rangeland, roadsides and noncrop areas. Generally, infestations start on disturbed ground, including ditch banks, overgrazed pastures, tilled fields or abandoned sites. Canada thistle reduces forage consumption in pastures and rangeland because cattle typically will not graze near infestations. One plant can colonize an area 3 to 6 feet in diameter in one or two years. Canada thistle grows in a variety of soils and can tolerate up to 2 percent salt content. It is most competitive in deep, well-aerated, productive, cool soils. It usually occurs in 17- to 35-inch annual precipitation zones or where soil moisture is adequate. It is less common in light, dry soils. A survey conducted in 1998 showed Colorado has about 400,000 acres infested with Canada thistle.' End quote. Well well...pesty little plant, eh?
Plant location: This specimen was outside Brighton Colorado on July 3, 2008.Bloom period: July to September