Dwarf Clover -or- Deer Clover (Trifolium nanum), family Fabaceae (Pea)
Of the 300 species in the genus Trifolium the distribution of this memeber is rather small, being found only 5 states in the US. The plant is a perennial subshrub. From WIKIPEDIA: 'The genus has a cosmopolitan distribution; the highest diversity is found in the temperate Northern Hemisphere, but many species also occur in South America and Africa, including at high altitudes on mountains in the tropics. They are small annual, biennial, or short-lived perennial herbaceous plants'. End quote. This species of Trifolium is not known for uses by Native Amreicans. A number of clovers make good tea.
Plant location: We saw this specimen at the top of Mt Evans Colorado on July 20, 2008. This plant grows in rocky ridges, meadows, gravelly slopes. The five states that host Dwarf Clover are Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming - subalpine and alpine zones. Bloom season: June and July.
Begonia Dock (Rumex venosus), family Polygonaceae (Buckwheat/Knotweed)
With it's large showy petals and beautiful color, this plant offers a lovely sight even though they are low to the ground. We saw none that were over 6 or 7" tall. The genus Rumex hosts about 200 species per WIKIPEDIA, according to USDA Plant Database it's more like 55. This species is a perennial herb. There are about 10 species of Rumex in Colorado. USES: Per the website North American Digital Flora the many uses of this species include: Analgesic, Antidiarrheal, Antirheumatic (Internal), Blood Medicine, Burn Dressing, Cold Remedy, Cough Medicine, Dermatological Aid, Gast-Intestinal Aid, Kidney Aid, Pulmonary Aid, Tonic, Venereal Aid. The plants have also been reported as toxic. Experiment carefully. Plants for A Future has: Young leaves - cooked. Used as greens. Young stems - cooked. Used like rhubarb. Also: The root is astringent, blood purifier and tonic. A decoction has been used in the treatment of diarrhoea, coughs and colds, influenza, pneumonia, stomach aches, kidney disorders, gall bladder problems, venereal disease and rheumatism. An infusion has been given to women to help them expel the afterbirth. The root can be dried, ground into a powder and used as a dressing on burns, wounds, sores etc. A poultice can also be made from the fresh root for use on burns, wounds, sores, swellings etc. An infusion of the stems and leaves has been used as a wash on sores.
More Wildflowers West photographs here.Plant location: Seen near the trailhead of Pawnee Butte Trail #840, Weld County Colorado. The date was June 4, 2009. The plants also were blooming right off the actual trailhead.Bloom season: April through June. Native habitats include: Open banks, ravines, grasslands, and sagebrush deserts, often where sandy.
Bristle Thistle (Carduus nutans), family Asteraceae (Aster/Sunflower)
The sad skinny on this species is a story of too much of a good thing. The plants are listed in many states as noxious weeds and are indeed found throughout the United States and Canada. Hardy would be one word to describe the species. It is native to much of Europe and Asia except for the far north. Also called Musk Thistle, it was introduced into the eastern North America in the early 1800s and is also a problem to farming in New Zeland. The plants DO have an upside as follows.
USES: Per Plants for a Future: The flowers are febrifuge and are used to purify the blood. The seeds contain a fixed oil that is rich in linoleic acid. This has proved of benefit in the prevention of atherosclerosis. The down of the plant is used to make paper. The seed of all species of thistles yields a good oil by expression. This species contains 41 - 44% oil. The flowers, and indeed the whole plant, give off a pleasing musk-like perfume.
Additional and BETTER images have been contributed by Amy Jo Jones.
See them here! Also see the beautiful Vine Sphinx Moth that we saw feeding on the nectar of Musk Thistle.
Plant location: Creedmore Lakes area on August 31, 2008.Bloom season: Summer
Colorado Loco -or- Purple Loco (Oxytropis lambertii), family Fabaceae (Pea)
Ah, the famous Locoweed. Actually the term is more a generic for three genus in the Fabaceae family; Oxytropis and Astragalus (North America), and Swainsona (Australia). The problem is a substance produced the these plants called swainsonine. Locoweed is relatively palatable to livestock, and some individual animals will seek it out. Per WIKIPEDIA: Livestock poisoned by chronic ingestion of large amounts of swainsonine develop a medical condition known as locoism (also swainsonine disease, swainsonine toxicosis, locoweed disease, and loco disease; North America) and pea struck (Australia). Locoism is reported most often in cattle, sheep, and horses, but has been reported also in elk and deer. It is the most widespread poisonous plant problem in the western United States. Most of the 2000 species of Astragalus, including many that are commonly known as locoweeds, do not produce swainsonine. Some species, including a few that produce swainsonine, accumulate selenium. This has led to confusion between swainsonine poisoning and selenium poisoning due to this genus. The flowers are said to smell like carnations. USES: Per the excellent website Native American Ethonobotany are these records of uses by Native Americans: Hopi Drug (Poison)
Plant poisonous to cattle. Lakota Drug (Poison)
Plant, in quantities, poisonous to livestock and horses. Navajo, Kayenta Drug (Laxative)
Plant used for constipation. Navajo, Kayenta Food (Porridge) Used to make a mush or parched and used for food. Navajo Other (Ceremonial Items) Plant offered to the bighorn at the Night Chant.Plant location: Seen in a Boulder County Open Space Colorado. Marshall Valley Trail on May 18, 2009. It is found in these United States: AZ, CO, IA, KS, MN, MO, MT, ND, NE, NM, OK, SD, TX, UT, WY.Bloom season: April to August
Parry Clover (Trifolium parryi), family Fabaceae (Pea)
A less likely found clover, this species is recorded in only 6 states of the U.S and is one of 170 species in the genus Trifolium. This clover is a perennial herb. WIKIPEDIA names 300 species in Trifolium. The genus has a cosmopolitan distribution; the highest diversity is found in the temperate Northern Hemisphere, but many species also occur in South America and Africa, including at high altitudes on mountains in the tropics. FunFacts: Shamrock, the traditional Irish symbol coined by Saint Patrick for the Holy Trinity, is commonly associated, along with it's 'lucky' association, with clover. Clovers occasionally have leaves with four leaflets, instead of the usual three. These four-leaf clovers, like other rarities, are considered lucky. A common idiom is "to be in clover", meaning to be living a carefree life of ease, comfort, or prosperity. This stems from the historical use of clover as green manure planted after harvesting a crop; a farmer whose fields were "in the clover" was finished for the season.Plant location: We saw this specimen on road to the top of Mt Evans Colorado on July 20, 2008, the little lake area. Found only in CO, ID, MT, NM, UT, and WY.Bloom season: July to September.
Crown Vetch (Securigera varia), family Fabaceae (Pea)
We think this is one of the most attractive vetches, isn't there a charming look about it? Be charmed and beware. The plants are quite toxic to horses and possibly to humans as well. If consumed in large amounts by horses, it can cause slow growth, paralysis, or even death. From the website Food Under Foot is this: 'The verdict on the toxicity of Crown Vetch is still out but it does contain high amounts of nitroglycerides, especially in the seeds, and is toxic to horses and other non ruminants (animals with one stomach, like people.) Cows and other ruminants can eat the crown vetch because their 4 stomachs convert the nitroglycerine into a nontoxic substance. Symptoms of toxicity include paralysis, high heart rate, and even death.' End quote. There are only 6 species in this genus. This one is a perennial herb. The plants have their positive side. They fix nitrogen in soil, attract wildlife, and make good ground cover. USES: Per Plants for a Future: The whole plant, used either fresh or dried is a cardiotonic. It should be used with extreme caution, it can be toxic. The bark has been used as an emetic. The crushed plant has been rubbed on rheumatic joints and cramps. Also, can be used as an insecticide. No more details are given. A good ground cover and soil stabilizer for sunny banks and slopes. It grows rampantly and should not be grown with plants less than 1.8 metres tall.Plant location: Northglenn Colorado - our very own back yard :) Photographed on July 12, 2009. We did not cultivate this plant. It came up on it's own. What a lovely surprise the flowers were. Thus species is found in every state of the U.S but one. Bloom season: June to September. Foliage growth pattern follows the typical 'ladder' formation of the leaves along the stems.
Cascade Huckleberry (Vaccinium deliciosum), family Ericaceae (Heath)
These delicate flowers are beautiful and boy do they turn into something good to eat - the berries are sooo yummy! The plants grow in an elevation from 2000' to 7000'. WIKIPEDIA offers this technical information: 'Vaccinium is a genus of shrubs in the plant Family Ericaceae including the cranberry, blueberry, bilberry or whortleberry, cowberry or lingonberry, and huckleberry. The genus contains about 450 species, which are found mostly in the cooler areas of the Northern Hemisphere, although there are tropical species from as widely separated areas as Madagascar and Hawai'i. The plants prefer heath landscapes, as well as open forests. The name Vaccinium was used for a type of berry (probably the bilberry V. myrtillus) in classical Latin, but its ultimate derivation is obscure; it has nothing to do with vaccinum "of or pertaining to cows", but may be a corruption of Latin bacca, berry. The fruit develops from an inferior ovary, and is a false berry.' End quote. Last year we harvested huckleberries from a couple of locations in Washington state. The most tasty were from the Mt Baker area, hiking the Railroad Grade. Go there, you won't be disappointed. Plant location: These lovely bells were sighted hiking the Bench Lake Trailhead at Mt Rainier in Washington state. The date was July 4, 2007.Bloom period: June through August, with beautiful fall foliage later in the season
Palmer's Penstemon (Penstemon palmeri), family Plantaginaceae (Plantain), was Scrophulariaceae (Figwort)
Lovely lovely!!! This is one of the few penstemons that are fragrant. Another name is Scented Beardtongue. It is named after Ernest Palmer. Plant location: Hwy 130 towards Saratoga Wyoming, on July 21, 2009. It is found in the following states: AZ, CA, CO, ID, NM, NV, UT, WA, WY. This find was part of our Roaming in Wyoming trip to the Medicine Bow National Forest. Try the Sugarloaf campground in the park and hike to
the shelf lakes. Outstanding! As of 1997 the state of Idaho seeded these plants along highways for beautification where the plants are considered to have become naturalized.Bloom season: Said to bloom from May to June. Our finding was on July 21, 2009. Per Dr. Dee Strickler the species blooms in June and July.
Alsike Clover (Trifolium hybridum), family Fabaceae (Pea)
This appealing looking plant is one of 170 species in the genus Trifolium. Members of it are both annual and perennia herbs. This can be either depending on locaion and conditions. Alsike clover is used for hay, pasture, and soil improvement, and is preferred where wetter or acid soils are encountered. It is generally out produced by other clover species for particular uses. Note: alsike clover can be toxic to horses under some conditions. USES: Native Americans used this species in the following ways: Iroquois Drug (Gynecological Aid) Cold infusion of plant used as a wash for breasts to increase milk flow. Iroquois Drug (Veterinary Aid) Cold infusion of plant used as a wash for cow's teats to increase milk flow. Edible: Leaves and flower heads - raw or cooked. Boiled, or after soaking for several hours in salty water. A delightful and healthful tea is made from the dried flower heads. They are usually mixed with other teasy. The dried flower heads and seeds can be ground into a nutritious flour.Plant location: Seen in the Rocky Mountain foothills in Colorado state at Hwy 72 and Plainview Road. The date was July 11, 2008. Another sighting of Alsike CLover was in Yellowstone National Park on August 29, 2009. This plant view is from that specimen. The elevation was 8817'. GPS coordinates N44?46.771 W110?27.399.Bloom season: June to October.
Deptford Pink (Dianthus armeria), family Caryophyllaceae (Pink)
This pretty little bloom was a serious surprise along with a good number of other species in this location. The conditions were seemingly less than er...prime...being in close proximity to an active hot springs area in Yellowstone National Park. The smell of sulfur was strong in the air yet many plants were in bloom! Per WIKIPEDIA: It is widely grown as an ornamental plant in gardens. Populations have been introduced to and have become naturalised in New Zealand and much of North America. Deptford Pink is also sometimes called mountain pink, but this may refer to several different species. End quote. Plant location: Yellowstone National Park on August 28, 2009. Elevation 7326'. GPS coordinates N44?29.148 W110?51.409. Bloom season: Unknown
Red Clover (Trifolium pratense), family Fabaceae (Pea)
It doesn't look very red does it? Never does :) This species literally blankets the United States and Canada. It is native to Europe, western Asia and northwest Africa. The plant was named Trifolium pratense by Carolus Linnaeus in 1753. Pratense is Latin for "found in meadows". There arre seven varieties. USES:There are many uses by Native Americans recorded: Algonquin, Quebec Drug (Pulmonary Aid) Infusion of plant taken for whooping cough. Cherokee Drug (Febrifuge) Infusion taken for fevers, "leucorrhea.", Bright's Disease. Iroquois Drug (Blood Medicine) Decoction of flowers taken as a blood medicine. (Blood Medicine) Infusion of stems and leaves used as an ingredient of a blood medicine. Thompson Drug (Cancer Treatment) Infusion of heads taken for stomach cancer. (Fodder) Plant used as food for livestock. Shuswap Food (Fodder) Used with timothy as a good feed for cows. Edible: From Plants for a Future: Leaves and young flowering heads - raw or cooked. The young leaves are harvested before the plant comes into flower, and are used in salads, soups etc. On their own they can be used as a vegetable, cooked like spinach.The leaves are best cooked. They can be dried, powdered and sprinkled on foods such as boiled rice. The leaves contain 81% water, 4% protein, 0.7% fat, 2.6% fibre and 2% ash. The seed can be sprouted and used in salads. A crisp texture and more robust flavour than alfalfa (Medicago sativa). The seeds are reported as containing trypsin inhibitors. These can interfere with certain enzymes that help in the digestion of proteins, but are normally destroyed if the seed is sprouted first. Flowers and seed pods - dried, ground into a powder and used as a flour. The young flowers can also be eaten raw in salads. Root - cooked. A delicate sweet herb tea is made from the fresh or dried flowers. The dried leaves impart a vanilla flavour to cakes etc.Plant location: The original specimen, photographed in the Rocky Mountain foothills in Colorado state at Hwy 72 and Plainview Road on July 11, 2008 has been replaced for a better one. The current photos were taken on June 28, 2011 - GPS coordinates: N39?43.288 W105?34.021 - Elevation: 7974'. The location was along Chicago Creek Road, near Idaho Springs Colorado. Lovely example!Bloom season: May to September.
Brook Saxifrage (Saxifraga odontoloma), family Saxifragaceae (Saxifrage)
These small treasures were the culmination of plants about 18" tall very close to a small creek. The blooms were so miniature that they almost disappeared. This was our first sighting of these delicate and very beautiful flowers, what a treat to see them.
Moss Campion (Silene acaulis), family Caryophyllaceae (Pink)
The pretty 'carpets' produced by these plants is a delight to our eyes. They are a small mountain-dwelling wildflower that is common all over the high arctic and the higher mountains of Eurasia and North America with about 88 species in the genus.
USES:The webiste Native American Ethnobotany is a wonderful source of plant uses by Native Americans. Through the University of Michigan at Dearborn, it is described as: A Database of Foods, Drugs, Dyes and Fibers of Native American Peoples, Derived from Plants. These are the known uses of Silene acaulis: Gosiute Drug (Gastrointestinal Aid) Plant used for children with colic. Gosiute Drug (Pediatric Aid) Plant used for children with colic. Eskimo, Inuktitut Food - Raw root skins used for food.
Plant location: Seen in the Rocky Mountain National Park on July 17, 2008.Bloom season: June to August.
Bladder Campion -or- Maidens tears (Silene vulgaris), family Caryophyllaceae (Pink)
This elegant flower was a marvelous delight when we were lucky enough to see it in the fading light of dusk. The exposure of the photos has been increased to show the views at their best. Beautiful! We have not found them to be common but the USDA Plant Database shows them spread all throughout the United States. The plants contain the substance saponin.
Per the website Plants for a Future is this: Although toxic, these substances are very poorly absorbed by the body and so tend to pass through without causing harm. They are also broken down by thorough cooking. Saponins are found in many plants, including several that are often used for food, such as certain beans.
It is advisable not to eat large quantities of food that contain saponins. Saponins are much more toxic to some creatures, such as fish, and hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities of them in streams, lakes etc in order to stupefy or kill the fish. Young shoots and leaves - raw or cooked. The young leaves are sweet and very agreeable in salads. The cooked young shoots, harvested when about 5cm long, have a flavour similar to green peas but with a slight bitterness. This bitterness can be reduced by blanching the shoots as they appear from the ground. When pureed it is said to rival the best spinach purees. The leaves can also be finely chopped and added to salads. The leaves should be used before the plant starts to flower. End quote. Plant location: Seen on the beautiful Beartooth Highway (Montana side) near Yellowstone National Park. August 30, 2009. Elevation 9110'. GPS coordinates: N44?56.518 W109?35.089.Bloom season: June to September.