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Filed under: Nature & Wildlife, Outdoor Recreation & Hiking, State & National Parks

Wildflowers of the Rocky Mountains–Part 1

November 17, 2010 by · 2 Comments 


On our hikes this summer, we covered much ground in the alpine and sub-alpine areas. We needed to be careful to avoid stepping on the fragile vegetation growing there as, at such elevations, growth is extremely slow. One source informed us that it can take as long as 100 years for a plant to achieve one inch of growth given the extreme climate in which they exist.

While taking great care to avoid causing a century of harm to these precious beauties, we took the opportunity for a photo safari, collecting many examples of different varieties that we could enjoy, along with other mementos for our trip, long after our journey had ended. We have spent some time perusing sources of wildflower information and believe we have located the names of a number of our favorite flowers. A few, however, were sufficiently difficult to categorize that we are open to suggestion and interpretation if you have any expertise in the area.

Alpine SunflowerWe determined that this bright yellow beauty is most likely an Alpine sunflower (Hymenoxys grandiflora), a member of the sunflower family. It tends to grow well on dry, well-drained slopes and exposed ridges above timberline from 10,000 to 11,000 feet and blooms from mid-July, which is when we happened upon it, to mid-August. Another possibility is that it could be Arrowleaf balsamroot, another member of the Sunflower family, but that is less likely, however, as those tend only to grow up to 8,000 feet elevation and this photo was taken at a higher elevation than that.

This beautiful purple daisy-like flower is an Aster (Aster occidentalis), also a member of the Sunflower family. The aster grows in moist forest soils from Washington to California and the Rocky Mountains, and blooms from July to September.

We have decided that this pretty blue flower is the Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia), a member of the Bluebell family. HarebellIt grows in the dry to moist soils of open hillsides, plains, and mountains and is found from low elevations up to 10,000 feet. Blooming from June through August, the territory of this petite beauty ranges from Alaska to Newfoundland, south to New Jersey, Iowa, Texas, and California.

These beautiful flowers certainly made our hikes more enjoyable by providing bursts of color to punctuate the amazing views we were experiencing. It is easy to overlook the unique characteristics of these precious beauties so we wanted to give them some individual attention. We have included three of our favorites in this post and will explore several others in a subsequent entry.

For more information about wildflowers and vegetation to be found in national parks, search for a national park near you.


2 Responses to “Wildflowers of the Rocky Mountains–Part 1”
  1. Patti Faustini says:

    I’ve hiked often in Glacier Park, being from western Montana. I loved reading about the wildflowers, especially the purple asters and the harebells. They are so lovely. thanks for including photos. Patti

  2. Diane Berry says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience Patti. Glad you enjoyed the post and the pictures!

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