Yellow Willowherb -or- Yellow Fireweed (Epilobium luteum), family Ongraceae (Willowherb)
Mark's nice capture of this bloom was towards the end of what feels like the 'Wildflower Season' to us. It is easy to remember from the extremely long stigma sticking out of the bloom. There are approximately 160 to 200 species in this genus. Many of the plants in this genus are considered weeds. This sighting was quite fine on Mark's part since the yellow species of Epilobium is unusual in the West.
Plant location: Found on August 18, 2007 in Box Canyon on Mt Rainier (Washington state).Bloom period: late summer.
Oh! the nightshade family...one immediately thinks of poison, toxins, and DEATH. Well it is not always true. In fact, many plants from this family are actually EDIBLE. Sometimes called the potato family, the group includes such edible members as paprika, chili pepper, potato, tomato, and petunias. While many of the species in the Nightshade family are indeed poisonous, that toxic quality also claims a place of viable medical benefit. A variety of toxins in the family, the tropanes, when used in extremely small quantities, can be of use in treating quite a variety of issues; motion sickness, they can diminish allergies, aleviate the side affects
of chemotherapy, are of use to dialate the eyes, and the reversal of poisoning due to overexposure to pesticides. Per Wikipedia, symptoms of overdose may include mouth dryness, dilated pupils, ataxia, urinary retention, hallucinations, convulsions, coma, and death. The Buffalobur is somewhat close to the potato, although we are not sure if the fruits, which are spiny, are nourishing. (Notice the fruit pictured in the inset) The colorado potato beetle, a beautiful but destructive creature, was first discovered on Buffalobur. The pest's preference shifted to the domesticated potato on it's introduction to North America. One of the more insidious offerings of this group to human culture is from the genus Nicotiana. Tolerance, dependence, addiction and eventual fatal damage to the human body occurs from long-term exposure to these substances. Buffalobur is a native plant to the midwest region of the United States. In the state of Washington (and possibly others) it is considered an invasive weed due to the fact
that the burs from the plant become entangled and devalue the wool of sheep. Although the plants are of rather limited distribution there, they want to keep it that way! As with many such plants, they are beautiful in bloom but too much of a good thing often becomes a burden.
Plant location: Our first ever (and only) sighting of Buffalobur occured on Red Feather Lakes Road, Colorado - August 31, 2008. The habitat of these plants are the plains and foothills areas.Bloom period: This cheery looking plant offers a genreous bloom period - May to September.
Northern Goldenrod (Solidago multiradiata), family Asterceae (Aster/Sunflower)
WIKIPEDIA has this on the plant: 'About 80 perennial species make up the genus Solidago, most being found in the meadows and pastures, along roads, ditches and waste areas in North America, and a few from Europe that were introduced some 250 years ago. Many species are difficult to distinguish. Probably due to their bright, golden yellow flower heads blooming in late summer, the goldenrod is often unfairly blamed for causing hay fever in humans. The pollen causing these allergy problems is mainly produced by Ragweed (Ambrosia sp.), blooming at the same time as the goldenrod, but is wind-pollinated. Goldenrod pollen is too heavy and sticky
to be blown far from the flowers, and is thus mainly pollinated by insects.' End quote. This plant can be found in elevations of 3000 feet to 11,000 feet. The book WILDFLOWERS OF MT. RAINIER has placed it in the alpine zone. There are a number of states that name Goldenrod as their state flower: Kentucky, Nebraska, and South Carolina. Another interesting factoid from WIKIPEDIA is that Thomas Edison was able to extract a rubber compound from Goldenrod and created a 12' high plant with a high rubber yield. The rubber was of excellent quality and longevity, with examples of rubber produced from his hybrids still to be found in his labs. Edison made a point of turning his notes over to the government a year prior to his death but his work with the Goldenrod species and it's superior product was never put to use.
Found on Mt Rainier (Washington state) on July 4, 2007.Bloom period: July through August.
Ground Cherry -or- Virginia Ground Cherry (Physalis virginiana), family Solanaceae (Nightshade)
The charming green baubles that dangle on this plant are almost as capitvating as the exotic looking flowers. Inside is the fruit of the plant. They enjoy a huge distribution throughout the United State from Colorado to the east. There are about 80 species in the genus. This is the same genus as the very popular Chinese Lanterns (Physalis alkekengi). WIKIPEDIA has this: 'These plants grow in most soil types and do very well in poor soils and in pots. They need lots of water throughout the growing year, except towards fruit-ripening time. Plants are susceptible to many of the common tomato diseases and pests; other pests such as the False
Potato Beetle (Leptinotarsa juncta) also attack them. Propagation is by seed. The typical Physalis fruit is similar to a firm tomato (in texture), and like strawberries or other fruit in flavor; they have a mild, refreshing acidity. The flavor of the Cape Gooseberry (P. peruviana) is a unique tomato/pineapple-like blend. Physalis fruit have around 130 kcal for 100 grams[verification needed], and are rich in cryptoxanthin. Its uses are similar to the common tomato or to fruits with a refreshing taste. Once extracted from its husk, it may be eaten raw or used in salads, desserts, as a flavoring, and in jams and jellies. They can also be dried and eaten much like figs, apricots or grapes. The Cape Gooseberry is native to the Americas, but is commonly grown and feral in many subtropical areas including South Africa (the "Cape" in the common name). Another important commercial type is the tomatillo (P. philadelphica). Physalis fruit are significant as an export product e.g. for Colombia. Some species are grown as
ornamental plants. For example, the hardy Physalis alkekengi is popular for its large, bright orange to red husks. Physalis have some medical relevance; they are sometimes used in herbalism as a remedy for sore throats[verification needed]. Smooth Groundcherry (P. subglabrata) is considered a hallucinogenic plant by some and its cultivation for other than ornamental purposes is outlawed in Louisiana by State Act 159. However, its use as a hallucinogen does not appear widespread.' End quote.
Plant location: The sighting was at the Big Dry Creek Open Space in Westminster Colorado on July 22, 2008. The life zone of this species is the plains.Bloom period: June to August.
Glacier Lily (Erythronium montanum) Family Liliaceae (Lily)
There were scads of these bright yellow flowers on other hikes but on the day we wanted to photograph some there were far fewer. Ha! We will keep our eyes peeled next season for better examples. There are only 20-30 species of these in the North American temperate zone. I am surprised there are so few. Wikipedia notes that the ground bulbs of Erythronium can be ground and used as FLOUR! And some roots ground produce starch for cooking as well. A close variant of this flower is the white Avalanche Lily which can be found in the white pages of this website.
Plant location: Sighted in Cle Elum Washington, the Esmerelda Basin trail in early June 2007.Bloom period: February through June.
Yellow Salsify -or- Western Salsify (Tragopogon dubius), family Asteraceae (Aster/Sunflower)
When we first saw this plant off a roadside heading towards Boreas Pass we thought it was a different species of dandelion. There are similarities in more than appearance and family. Both plants are edible. The website Southwest Colorado Wildlfowers has this information; 'Salsify's beautifully symmetrical flower gives way to a huge, puffy silver/white seed head which is really more well known than the flower. Salsify's roots are edible and for this reason it was introduced to America by early Europeans and has since spread widely. In the Four Corners area Salsify
is common in wild areas, farm fields, and city lots. Leaves are narrow and long, plants are straight and up to several feet tall, and flowers open from spring into fall. "Tragos" is Greek for "goat" and "pogon" for "beard", thus giving another common name, "Goat's Beard". The genus was named by Linnaeus in 1753 and this species was first collected near the Adriatic Sea.' End quote. Our sighting provided us with views of both the flowers and seed heads of the plant. The big fluffy white are indeed similiar to that of the dandelion. The plants also have a milky sap within. The genus Tragopogon consists of about 45 species and is a perennial herb. This genus is native to Europe and Asia, with the introduced species now often classed as weeds. The most interesting botanical information about this genus is that the species are examples of true hybrid speciation. WIKIPEDIA has this: 'Goatsbeard are one example where hybrid speciation has been observed. In the early 1900s, humans introduced
three species of goatsbeard into North America. These species, the Western Salsify (T. dubius), the Meadow Salsify (T. pratensis), and the Oyster Plant (T. porrifolius), are now common weeds in urban wastelands. In the 1950s, botanists found two new species in the regions of Idaho and Washington, where the three already known species overlapped.' End quote. Although the roots, stems, and leaves of this species is edible, it is not considered a 'food' source per se and has no known medicinal value. It has become classed as invasive in much of the United States. Be that as it may, we found the flower to be lovely.
Plant location: Sighted on September 19, 2008 on the way to Boreas Pass Colorado, Hwy 801. The plants are plains and foothills dwellers found off roadsides, grassy areas, and fields. The Southwest Colorado Wildlfowers
website also notes the montane zone as a habitat for these plants.Bloom period: Another plant blooming past it's 'common' time, in this case being May to August.
Mountain Monkeyflower (Mimulus tilingii), family group Phrymaceae (Lopseed)
The following information is from Wikipedia: 'It is recognized that there are two large groups of Mimulus species, with the largest group of species in western North America, and a second group with center of diversity in Australia. A few species also extend into eastern North America, eastern Asia and southern Africa. This enlarged group is a part of the newly redefined Phrymaceae.' End quote. The throats of some of this genus are known to posses a flypaper quality for the purpose of trapping insects for food. Hence, this plant can be a MEAT-EATER!! This sure looks like a hairy-throated insect catcher to us!
Plant location: Seen on Mt Rainier (Washington state) July 7, 2007 and Bird Creek Meadow on September 15, 2007. See a beautiful example of Yellow Monkeyflower in Yellowstone National Park, elevation 7340' at GPS coordinates N44.29.089 W110.51.353. The specimen was quite stunted and growing in an area very near live hot springs. A real survivor.Bloom period: This flower has a short bloom span, July and August. The plant and foliage shots in this panel were seen on Mt Rainier, while the flower shot was seen at Bird Creek Meadow on September 19, 2007. Note the variance in the declared 'bloom period' for this plant.
This perennial was on a steep hillside, making a lovely color spot during a timeframe when many wildflowers had ceased to bloom. The genus Senecio is very large with about 68 species in 10 of the United States. A distinguishing characteristic is the narrow blade-like foliage of the plant. This species was used by native American tribes in a number of ways; Infusion of leaves used as a tonic after childbirth, Poultice of flowers and leaves used for sore muscles (Hopi tribe) and Poultice of ground leaf used for pimples and skin diseases (Hopi tribe). A variant of Senecio spartioides, multicapitatus, was used in many additional
applications by tribes, including as a starvation food source. See the website Native American Ethnobotany. There is indication that this species may be a livestock hazard.
Plant location: Jackson County Open Space, Lookout Mountain area - October 4, 2008. This is a plains to montane dweller that can be found in disturbed soils. Roadsides, edges of woods, and burrowed hillsides are locations where it might be seen. USDA plant database shows Broom Senecio in the following states in America: AZ, CA, CO, NE, NM, NV, SD, TX, UT, WY.Bloom period: July to October.
Sulfur Flower -or- Sulfur-flower Buckwheat (Eriogonum umbellatum), family Polygonaceae (Buckwheat)
This uncommon sighting of umbellatum was a cool find. The flowers were aging with a large amount of pink in the dying petals. The soil was quite dry and rocky. **OR this could also be a variant or subspecies of umbellatum known as hausknechtii. According to the book WILDFLOWERS OF THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST that subpecies is not uncommon in higher elevations in Washington.** There are good pictures of this plant at CalPhotos. WIKIPEDIA has this on the genus: '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.
Plant location: Seen on September 15, 2007 hiking Bird Creek Meadow, Mt. Adams (Washington state).Bloom period: This plant fell outside the typical bloom period which is June through August.
Also known as Chrysothamnus parryi affinis, our identification came from the book Guide to Colorado Wildflowers, Mountains by Dr. G.K. Guennel. There are many rabbitbrushes, with the Chrysothamnus genus known as the 'rubber' or 'gray' variants. The Ericamerias are known simply as rabbitbrushes or goldenbush. Per WIKIPEDIA is this; 'Ericameria is a genus of shrubs in the daisy family known by the common names rabbitbrush and goldenbush. These are deciduous shrubs similar to sagebrush with a native range in the arid western United States and Mexico. They are known for its bright
white or yellow flowers in late summer. Ericameria nauseosus, a synonym of Chrysothamnus nauseosus is known for its production of latex.' End quote. Our specimen is a perennial shrub. There are quite a few sub-species of Parry's Rabbitbrush. Native American tribes made extensive use of plants from the Ericameria and Chrysothamnus species. See the website Native American Ethnobotany for details. A link to the site can be found on our homepage.
Plant location: Snowmass Colorado on October 19, 2008. This species is a foothills to subalpine dweller. The USDA Plant database lists Colorado and New Mexico as the only two states in the U.S. that have populations of this plant.Bloom period: July to September, commonly
Pacific Cinquefoil or Pacific Silverweed (Potentilla pacifica), family Rosaceae (Rose)
The roots can supposedly be eaten, having a taste like sweet potato (I have not tried them myself) but need to be thoroughly cooked to loose a bitter quality. Another mention involving the edible nature of the roots of this plant is from the book Coastal Wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest: 'the roots were eaten by several coastal Indian tribes who steamed the roots and dipped them in whale oil before eating.' The specimen in the photograph made a large showy ground cover right on the beach itself. The leaves are thick and shiny green. That along with the pretty yellow flowers gave a healthy and robust look to the growth.
Plant location: These blooms made a pretty show during a summer visit to Lincoln City Oregon in August of 2007.Bloom period: April through August.
Golden Smoke -or- Scrambled Eggs -or- Curvepod -or- Golden Fumeroot (Corydalis aurea), family Fumariaceae (Fumitory)
This herb is an Annual/Biennial plant. It is found in almost every state in the U.S., and is endangered in Illinois and Pennsylvania. In the states of Iowa, New York, Vermont the plants are threatened. There are 11 species in this genus. According to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is the following information on this species; 'Medicinal use: American Indians used tea for painful menstruation, backache, diarrhea, bronchitis, heart diseases, sore throat, and stomach aches; inhaled fumes from burning roots for headaches. May be toxic. Warning: This plant is believed to be poisonous to livestock if consumed in quantity. Humans should generally avoid ingesting plants that are toxic to animals.' The website Flora of North America notes 'The Navaho used Corydalis aurea medicinally for a variety of ailments, including rheumatism, diarrhea, sores on the hands, stomachaches, menstrual problems, and sore throats, and as a general disinfectant (D. E. Moerman 1986, no subspecies cited).' End quote
Plant location: We don't remember. The date was May 30, 2008. We were leaving the Mt Evans Colorado area. These plants are plains to montane dwellers. Found on gravelly hillsides among rocks or brush, and flats along creek bottoms under trees. The plants are low water users however.Bloom period: February through September.
Alpine Oreoxis -or- Alpine Parsley (Oreoxis alpina), family Apiaceae (Carrot)
A nice color spot, fresh and pleasing looking, Alpine Parsley is a native to these five states in the U.S. - Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming. It is a perennial herb with an American Native history; the Navajo tribe used the plant, plus greasewood and wild privet, as a medicine for the Coyote Chant. There are only four species in this genus.
Plant location: Mt Evans Colorado on May 30, 2008.Bloom period: Uncertain.
Spreadfruit Goldenbanner (Thermopsis divaricarpa), family Fabaceae (Pea/Bean)
These bright pretty bubbles are often mistaken for Lupine. But these Pea family members are their own 'man' so to speak. The genus in the huge Pea family has only 10 species. This is sometimes classed as an invasive species. Pretty attractive invader, huh? Thermopsis rhombifolia has toxic properties. It is not certain that this species does as well so care should be taken not to ingest the plants. Symptoms of poisoning include vomiting, dizziness, and abdominal pain.
Plant location: Seen on Hwy 72 near Pinecliff Colorado. The date was May 30, 2008. The zone of this plant is the plains to subalpine. It is found in only four states of the U.S. - Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, and Wyoming.
Bloom period: April to July.
Curly Cup Gumweed (Grindelia squarrosa), family Asteraceae (Aster/Sunflower)
The tough reddish stem of this plant is one clue as to which gumweed this is. The plants are small biennials. This species was discovered by Lewis and Clark and before that it had been used by Great Plains Tribes as a medicinal herb. There are only 28 species in the genus. The website Native American Ethnobotany has many records of tribal uses of Curly Cup Gumweed as follows: 'Blackfoot Drug (Liver Aid), Cheyenne Drug (Dermatological Aid) Decoction of flowering tops applied to skin diseases, scabs and sores, gum rubbed on the outside of eyes for snowblindness, Chee tribe used to prevent childbearing, infusion of buds and flowers taken to ease and lessen menses, used to treat gonorrhea, Crow Tribe (Pulmonary Aid); taken for whooping cough and pneumonia.' There are many more, visit the website to see them. The species is quite drought resistant in part because the roots can grow 6 FEET LONG. It often
becomes abundant after a period of dryness. The common name comes from the resinous sap and curling bracts of the flowering heads. It is sticky to the touch. Livestock find curly-cup gumweed unpalatable due to the tannins, oils, and resins it contains. See the plant location slide for a discussion of the effects of gumweed ingestion on horses.Plant location: Jackson County Open Space on October 4, 2008, near Lookout Mountain Colorado. The plants are found in the following United States; CO, KS, MO, NJ, NM, OK, TX. There are about 28 species in the genus Grindelia with approximately one dozen (give or take a few additional subspecies) in the state of Colorado. **Per Dr. Mary L. Dubler, equine veterinarian, is this interesting information: 'It is not too common that horses get into trouble with eating toxic plants, but in certain areas of the western states Gumweed is a concern because it accumulates the heavy metal Selenium from high-Selenium soils. Selenium consumed in larger-than-normal quantities causes a weakening of the structure of hair and hoof, so the horses start getting cracks and grooves in their hooves and the hairs of the mane and tail break. It can cause other problems too, but often the first thing the owners notice is problems with the hooves or they think the tail hairs are falling out when what is actually happening
is that they are breaking. Other plants are Selenium accumulators too, but horses seem to particularly like eating Gumweed, especially late in the summer when the pasture grasses are waning'. End Quote. The following information on selenium is from Answers.Com: quote 'The biological importance of selenium is well established, as all classes of organisms metabolize selenium. In humans and other mammals, serious diseases arise from either excessive or insufficient dietary selenium. The toxic effects of selenium have long been known, particularly for grazing animals. In soils with high selenium content, some plants accumulate large amounts of selenium. Animals that ingest these selenium-accumulating plants develop severe toxic reactions. Although toxic at high levels, selenium is an essential micronutrient for mammalian species. The accepted minimum daily requirement of selenium for adult humans is 70 micrograms. Many types of food provide selenium, particularly seafood, meats,
grains, and the onion family. Mammals and birds require selenium for production of the enzyme glutathione peroxidase, which protects against oxidation-induced cancers.' End quote.
Bloom period: July to October, shifted a month earlier in some regions. The leaf edges of our specimen were quite chewed up but a few untouched leaves were helpful in identification of this plant. Habitats include: road edges, depleted rangelands, overgrazed pastures, abandon croplands and other disturbed areas.