Cascade Penstemon -or- Coast Penstemon (Penstemon serrulatus), was family Scrophulariaceae (Figwort), re-classed to family Plantaginaceae (Plantain)
See WIKIPEDIA for a detailed account of the changes. This penstemon has finely serrated leaved. It grows in elevations of up to 6000 feet. The genus is huge with about 270 species in North America alone. These flowers were once considered as a candidate for the national flower for the United States but were not selected due to the fact that no particular state had chosen it as their state flower - sheesh! Do you have a toothache? Native Americans used Penstemon to treat this! Another interesting fact...although
so common and abundant in North America, Europeans have been much more attracted to the genus and have created many hybrids. WIKIPEDIA has this on that: 'By 1860, a half-dozen French growers are known to have developed hybrids, most notably Victor Lemoine, while in 1857 the German Wilhelm Pfitzer listed 24 varieties. In 1861 the Royal Horticultural Society held trials in which 78 varieties were entered. The Scottish firm of John Forbes first offered penstemons in 1870, eventually becoming the biggest grower in the world; in 1884 their catalog listed 180 varieties. By 1900 Forbes had offered 550 varieties, while Lemoine had developed nearly 470 by the time of his death in 1911.' End quote. Sadly however, his work declined with his death and few of his species remain today. FunFact:
Penstemons are so hardy on their own that they frequently do NOT do well if overfertilized and some species will grow in almost total sand!Plant location: Sighted hiking Larch Mountain, Oregon state, on July 1, 2007. This information is from WIKIPEDIA: 'They have opposite leaves, partly tube-shaped and two-lipped flowers and seed capsules. The most distinctive feature of the genus is the prominent staminode, an infertile stamen. The staminode takes a variety of forms in the different species; while typically a long straight filament extending to the mouth of the corolla, some are longer and extremely hairy, giving the general appearance of an open mouth with a fuzzy tongue protruding and inspiring the common name beardtongue'. End quote.Bloom period: June to early August - from the book NORTHWEST PENSTEMONS, by Dee Strickler. The plant is probably a herbaceous perennial, as most penstemons are.
Bluemat Penstemon (Penstemon linarioides ssp coloradoensis), family Scrophulariaceae (Figwort)
It was a bit late in the season for this penstemon. Most of the same plants in proximity to our flowering example had already dried and showed seed pods. These were the only blooms still in evidence. Plant location: This lovely find was in the Rocky Mountain National Park. Sighted on August 19, 2009.Bloom season: Unknown
Washington Penstemon (Penstemon washingtonensis), was family Scrophulariaceae (Figwort), re-classed to family Plantaginaceae (Plantain)
See WIKIPEDIA for a detailed account of the changes. This thumbnail looks much like the previous panel. Look closely, there is a world of difference between the Cascade and Washington penstemons. This species lives in a very small area of Washington and has a short bloom span, making this a very cool sighting by Mark. Plant location: Sighted outside of Twisp Washington on July 27, 2007.Bloom period: SHORT, July into August - from the excellent book NORTHWEST PENSTEMONS, by Dee Strickler.
Blue Wild Iris -or- Rocky Mountain Iris (Iris missouriensis), family Iridaceae (Lily)
The ecological range of Iris missouriensis is probably more varied than that of any other North American species of the genus, extending from almost sea level in southern California to 3000m (9850') in Montana and Wyoming. This iris is considered a weed in some areas, particularly in California. It is bitter and distasteful to livestock and heavy growths of the plant are a nuisance in pasture land. Heavy grazing in an area promotes the growth of this hardy iris. USES: A good number of uses by Native Americans: Great Basin Indian Drug (Toothache Remedy) Root put in a hollow tooth for toothaches. Klamath Drug (Emetic) Dried rootstocks used by medicine men as smoking material to cause nausea. Montana Indian Drug (Emetic) Decoction of rootstocks used by medicine men to induce vomiting. Navajo, Ramah Drug (Ceremonial Medicine) Decoction of plant used as a ceremonial emetic. Decoction of plant used as a ceremonial emetic. Infusion of roots taken for bladder troubles. Paiute Drug (Analgesic) Decoction of root taken for stomachaches. Paste of ripe seeds applied to sores. Warm decoction of root dropped into ear for earache. Decoction of root taken for stomachaches. Paiute Drug (Venereal Aid) Decoction of root used for gonorrhea. Shoshoni Drug (Analgesic) Decoction of root taken for stomachaches. Poultice of mashed roots applied for rheumatic pains. Poultice of mashed roots applied to rheumatic pains. Paste of ripe seeds applied to burns. Pulped root applied as a salve for venereal sores. Jemez (Decorations) Flower used as a decoration for dances. Plants For a Future notes that an unspecified part of the plant will yield a green liquid for use as a dye. See White Wild Iris here.
Plant location: Found blooming along the roadside in Boulder County Colorado on May 18, 2009. This is a plant of the west, it is found in these United States: AZ, CA, CO, ID, MN, MT, ND, NE, NM, NV, OR, SD, UT, WA, WY. Habitats: Woodland Garden; Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Bog Garden. Bloom season: May to July.
Western Blue Flax -or- Prairie Flax (Linum lewisii), family Linaceae (Flax)
The deep blue color of these flowers makes a very pretty show in a natural setting, so much so that they have become popular in tended gardens. The plants can be aggressive and will even seed into lawns so adding to established garden environments should be a carefully considered decision. The plant's flowers often close or fall off the plant as the day wears on making these look like spindly plants with no flowers! See the inset in the flower panel to get a look at a closing example. This species is native to western North America from Alaska south to Baja California, and from the Pacific Coast east to the Mississippi River. There are 37 species in the genus and 3 varieties of lewisii. USES:
Even without flowers these plants offer great usefulness. American Indian tribes used the tough fiber of the
plant's stems to make rope, cords, fishing lines and even nets. The bloom period of the plants lasts many weeks - another reason for their inclusion in cultivated gardens. See the lovely orange flax, Linum puberulum, here.
Plant location: Sighted in the Two Ponds National Wildlife Refuge, Arvada Colorado, May 14, 2008. The plants are found in most of the United States and Canada. Bloom period: Spring and Summer
Alpine Mertensia (Mertensia alpina), family Boraginaceae (Borage)
Mertensia is a genus of about 40 species of perennial herbaceous plants with bell-shaped blue flowers opening from pink-tinged buds. This is one of several plants commonly called bluebell. The genus is named after the German botanist Franz Mertens. The plants are perennial herbs. 18 species in this genus.
Plant location: Found on Cottonwood Pass near Granby Colorado on May 27, 2009. The elevation was 8904'. Found in these states: CO, ID, MT, NM, WY.Bloom season:March to May.
Narrow Leafed Penstemon (Penstemon angustifolius), was family Scrophulariaceae (Figwort), re-classed to family Plantaginaceae (Plantain)
See WIKIPEDIA for a detailed account of the changes. Due to new genetic research it has now been placed in the vastly expanded family Plantaginaceae. This delicate looking specimen is one hardy plant. Belonging to a huge genus, these Penstemons are also called Beardtongue, and thrive in sandy dry soil. They do just fine in arid habitats. The group is native to North America and some say that this specific species is native to Colorado. The plant is actually not tolerant of excessive
water or fertilizer - so be harsh - it will still love you. The 'beardtongue' portion of the flower is actually the fifth stamen of the flower and is sterile. The flowers can be pink or lavender as well as our gorgeous blue example, depending on location. A beautiful bloom, the plant has a useful side as well. The following information is from the USDA Plant Database: 'Narrow leaf penstemon is a drought tolerant forb. It is helpful in preventing wind erosion on sandy dunes, plains and grasslands where it establishes. Wildlife: Narrow leaf penstemon provides a food source to small birds and mammals. It is heavily used by hummingbirds and various insects during flowering.' End quote. Native Americans are known to have used the roots of penstemon to treat toothache.
Plant location: Sighted in Weld County Colorado on the Pawnee Butte hiking trail #840 on May 26, 2008.Bloom period: Accurate bloom period is unknown. Our specimen was sighted mid spring.
Purple Prairie Clover (Petalostemon purpureum) -or- (Dalea purpurea), family Fabaceae
What a charmer of a flower!! The interesting cone topper surrounded by a lovely necklace of tiny purple flowers with bright yellow stamens sticking out made for an enchanting looking bloom. It was our first sighting of this very lovely flower, with one and only one in sight. It kept good company, being in the presence of Indian Blanket and Prairie Coneflower at this roadside location. In truth we stopped for the larger and more showy Indian Blanket. This little darling was a sweet bonus! We caught the flower at a good time in our opinion.
The bloom starts at the base and continues up the cone. We thought the cone 'tophat' made the flower quite captivating looking. The prairie clover plants make a high protein food for livestock but as a garden item they are best grown from seeds. The plant produces an extensive root system that makes successful transplantation difficult. The genus, Dalea, hosts quite a large number of species. We are not sure of the native origin of the plants, but it is a neighbor friendly plant. The root system may resist transplanting but it's widespread configuration adds generous doses of nitrogen to the soil it lives in, keeping it's environs fertile for other plants as well as itself. In fact the taproot of this plant can reach up to TEN FEET below the ground in it's quest for nutrients. Its long taproot has been used to make a tea to reduce fever in measles sufferers. If this is not good enough for you, the flowers are also attractors for birds and butterflies. Lots going on with this very pretty flower.
Plant location: Just outside of Brighton Colorado on July 3, 2008Bloom period: May through July and sometimes through September.
Low Larkspur (Delphinium nuttallianum), family Ranunculaceae (Buttercup)
Poisonous plant!!! Quote: The plant is poisonous to cattle and can be poisonous to horses and sheep when ingested in higher amounts. In an experiment with Delphinium barbei (not found in Canada), six times as much plant material (per kilogram of body weight) was needed to poison sheep than to poison cattle. Why cattle are sensitive to larkspur poisoning is not understood. The alkaloid methyllycaconitine causes curare-like effects on the skeletal muscles and can cause motor paralysis, followed by death from asphyxiation.Plant location: Found on Cottonwood Pass near Granby Colorado on May 27, 2009.Bloom season: Flowers from spring to early summer.
Storksbill -or- Filaree -or- Cranesbill (Erodium cicutarium), family Geraniaceae (Geranium)
Another lovely example from the Geranium family, our specimen was still TINY. These flowers have many pollinator friends; bees, beetles, moths and butterflies. And if that is not enough to do the job, they are also self-fertile. Per WIKIPEDIA this is an herbaceous annual, and in warm climates a biennial member of the Geranium Family of flowering plants. It is native to the Mediterranean Basin and was introduced to North America in the eighteenth century, where it has since become invasive, particularly of the deserts and arid grasslands of the southwestern United States. The seeds of this annual are a species collected by various species of harvester ants.USES:
This plant has an edibility rating of three apples according to Plants for a Future There are a variety of uses of this plant from that source: The whole plant is astringent and haemostatic. It has been used in the treatment of uterine and other bleeding. The root and leaves have been eaten by nursing mothers to increase the flow of milk. Externally, the plant has been used as a wash on animal bites, skin infections etc. A poultice of the chewed root has been applied to sores and rashes. A tea made from the leaves is diaphoretic and diuretic. An infusion has been used in the treatment of typhoid fever. The leaves are soaked in bath water for the treatment of rheumatism. The seeds contain vitamin K, a poultice of them is applied to gouty typhus. Other Uses include as a dye; A green dye is obtained from the whole plant. It does not require a mordant. The dried plant powder has been mixed with watermelon seeds during storage and planting in order to prevent watermelon disease. QUITE a varied lineup of qualitites for this little guy. Another interesting use mentioned at the Native American Ethnobotany website is the that Navajo, and Kayenta tribes used the plants for wildcat, bobcat or mountain lion bites.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.
Plant location: Sighted in the Rocky Mountain foothills in Colorado state at Hwy 72 and Plainview Road. The date was June 6, 2008. The plant view specimens were sighted hiking Hayden/Green Mountain near Lakewood Colorado on May 17, 2015. Bloom season: February to November.
Plant location:Bloom season:
Western Spiderwort (Tradescantia occidentalis), family Commelinaceae (Spiderwort/Dayflower)
This plants belongs to a fairly small family of only 9 genera. The genus Tradescantia hosts about 33 species. This species has two varieties: occidentalis and scopulorum. USES: The excellent website Native American Ethnobotany has these records of uses by Native Americans: Meskwaki Drug (Diuretic) Infusion of root used as a "urinary." Root gum inserted in cut on head "to stop craziness." Navajo, Kayenta Drug (Love Medicine) Plant used as an aphrodisiac. Navajo, Ramah Drug (Disinfectant) Cold infusion of root used internally and externally for "deer infection." Decoction of root taken for internal injury. Cold simple or compound infusion given to livestock as an aphrodisiac. Acoma, Keres, Western, Hopi, and Laguna Tender shoots eaten without preparation.FACTOID: Like in a few other species of Tradescantia, the cells of the stamen hairs of Western spiderwort are normally colored blue, but when exposed neutron radiation or other forms of ionizing radiation, the cells mutate and change color to pink. Thus the plant can be used as a bioassay for radiation. Bioassays are typically conducted to measure the effects of some substance on a living organism and are essential in the development of new drugs, and in monitoring environmental pollutants. Both are procedures by which the potency or the nature of a substance is estimated by studying its effects on living matter.Plant location: Hwy 36 between Lyons and Estes Park Colorado. May 26, 2009. The plants are pretty widespread in the United States: AR, AZ, CO, IA, KS, LA, MN, MT, ND, NE, NJ, NM, NY, OK, SD, TX, UT, WI, WY. Bloom season: June and July.
BEST GUESS: Taper-leaved Penstemon (Penstemon attenuatus var. blue form), family Scrophulariaceae (Figwort)
Numerous penstemons were examined online and in our reference books to arrive at an identification of this specimen. The most compelling of these came from page 158 of Dr. Dee Strickler's book Northwest Penstemons. There are four varieties of attenuatus described by Strickler as exceedingly variable and found in Central Washington, NE Oregon, W. Montana, S. Idaho, and Central Wyoming. Matching charactaristics include anther, staminode, flower view conformation, and foliage. See what you think! More information on his book Northwest Penstemons can be found in our bibliography. Plant location: Again, this is a specimen from Medicine Bow National Forest, Wyoming. We had passed through Centennial, headed up into the park proper on July 21, 2009, when we saw these lovely plants on the left side of the road at the base of an embankment. Outstanding color.Bloom season: Late spring to early summer. Note: the larger portion of this image shows the basal rosette leaves of this specimen. The inset within is a close-up of the cauline leaves.
It was fun to come across this color salsify, we normally just see the yellows. T. porrifolius is a common biennial wildflower, native to Mediterranean regions of Europe but introduced elsewhere, for example, into Great Britain, (mainly in the south) and northern Europe, North America, and southern Africa and in Austrlia; in the United States it is now found growing wild in almost every state, including Hawaii, except in the extreme south-east.USES: Plants for a Future has great information on this species: Root - raw or cooked. The young root can be grated in salads, older roots are best cooked. The flavour is mild and sweet, and is said to resemble oysters. The roots are harvested as required from October until early spring, or can be harvested in late autumn and stored until required. The new growth is used in spring. Flowering shoots - raw or cooked. Used like asparagus. Flowers, add to salads. The sprouted seeds can be added to salads or sandwiches. The root latex is used as a chewing gum. Salsify is a cleansing food with a beneficial effect upon the liver and gallbladder. The root is antibilious, slightly aperient, deobstruent and diuretic. It is specific in the treatment of obstructions of the gall bladder and jaundice and is also used in the treatment of arteriosclerosis and high blood pressure. IF THIS ISN'T ENOUGH READ ABOUT THE USES BY NATIVE AMERICANS :) Navajo, Ramah Drug (Ceremonial Medicine) Plant used as a ceremonial emetic. Cold infusion taken or used as lotion for mad coyote bite on humans or livestock. Latex used as milk. Thompson Stems broken at the base and hardened juice chewed for food.In North America, T. porrifolius hybridizes with both T. dubius and T. pratensis.Plant location:Clear Creek Trail, Colorado - May 31, 2009.Bloom season: June through August
Sawsepal penstemon -or- Western Smooth Beardtongue (Penstemon glaber), family Scrophulariaceae (Figwort)
Per the Lady Bird Johnson website: 'Stout perennial with large, trumpet-shaped flowers and glossy, dark green leaves. 18-20 in. tall on the average, but may be shorter or taller depending on environment. Flower color is also dependent on environment - brilliant blue in dry months, almost white during wet periods. Forms many-stemmed crown with age'. We saw an example of the many stemmed crown plant near the one we took for a technical photo. Look closely at the plant view, at the plant on the left. Native Americans long used penstemon roots to relieve toothache.Plant location: Sighted on the Beartooth Highway, Montana, on our trip to Yellowstone National Park. August 30, 2009 at an elevation of 8025'. Penstemon glaber is found in the following states: CO, MT, ND, NE, NM, SD, WYBloom season: Commonly June and July. Our specimen was later.