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Monday, August 31, 2009

Parry's Primrose-Primula parryi

This striking magenta flower found at higher elevations and often near water is Parry's primrose (Primula parryi), a member of the Primrose Family (Primulaceae). 

Most of them have finished flowering for this year, leaving the leafy vegetation behind.

But I looked all around and managed to find a few flowers still hanging on. This flower lends so much color to the sub-alpine and alpine scenery. It also stands out because it is so large compared to much of the higher elevation vegetation, much of which has shrunken in size to deal with the harsher growing conditions.

For more information about Parry's primrose, click here.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Spiny Milkvetch-Astragalus kentrophyta

This dainty Pea Family (Fabaceae) flower is spiny milkvetch (Astragalus kentrophyta). It grows above 10,000 feet in elevation, and is native to western North America. It has pointy leaves that somewhat resemble spikes.

For more information about spiny milkvetch, click here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Desert Sweet-Chamaebatiaria millefolium

This beautiful bush growing in limestone areas is desert sweet (Chamaebatiaria millefolium), more commonly called fern bush. It's a member of the Rose Family (Rosaceae) and is native to the western United States.

The flowers look like most other rose-family flowers, with five petals. The leaves are quite fern looking, with many leaflets (hence the species name millefolium).

For more information about desert sweet, click here.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Threenerve Goldenrod-Solidago velutina

Seeing goldenrod in flower is bittersweet--it's one of those flowers that appears at the end of summer, and you know that it won't be too long until the cold creeps in. This species grows in dry areas and is Threenerve Goldenrod (Solidago velutina), a member of the Sunflower Family (Asteraceae). It's native to the western United States.

For more information about threenerve goldenrod, click here.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Eaton's Aster-Symphyotrichum eatonii

This showy aster growing in moist places is Eaton's aster (Symphyotrichum eatonii), formerly Aster eatonii. It's a member of the Sunflower Family (Asteraceae). It is native to western North America.

The disk flowers are yellow, while the ray flowers are pinkish-whitish.
For more information about Eaton's aster, click here.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Brook Saxifrage-Saxifraga odontoloma

Growing next to a stream I noticed leaves that were a notched semi-circle with even dentations all around the edge. Rising from these leaves was a slender stalk and delicate, small flowers. This was brook saxifrage (Saxifraga odontoloma), also called streamside saxifrage. It is native to western North America.

The flowers have five petals with a two-beaked pistil and ten reddish anthers.

For more information about brook saxifrage, click here.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Largeleaf Avens-Geum macrophyllum

This large plant growing next to a stream was a little bit of a mystery at first, because it had already flowered and only had strange looking fruits on it. The leaves were large and split in three leaflets. A little searching showed it was a member of the Rose Family (Rosaceae) called largeleaf avens (Geum macrophyllum). It's native to western and northern North America.

Flowers appear in June and July, but by August only the seed is left.

Unless you get lucky and catch a few petals still clinging on!
For more information about largeleaf avens, click here.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Redroot Buckwheat-Eriogonum racemosum

The flowers on this two-foot tall plant are small, so they might not attract your attention at first, but they are one of the few pink flowers blooming this time of year. They arise from a basal rosette of leaves that help identify this plant as a member of the Buckwheat Family (Polygonaceae). This is redroot buckwheat (Eriogonum racemosum), with many other common names, such as wild buckwheat. It's found in the desert southwest.

The flowers have six petals and are close to the stem.

For more information about redroot buckwheat, click here.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Columbian Monkshood-Aconitum columbianum

Growing up to six feet tall in moist area and producing dark purple flowers is Columbian monkshood (Aconitum columbianum). It's a member of the Buttercup Family (Ranunculaceae), although the lower leaves on the plant look almost maple-like.
The flowers supposedly resemble monk's hoods, hence the common name.

The petals of the plant are actually inside the protective covering formed by the sepals, along with the reproductive parts. A bee pollinates this highly specialized flower.

I saw buds, flowers, and seed pods all in the same area, showing the different stages all at one time.

Only one species of Aconitum grows in this area, making it fairly easy to identify. It also can form short vines, making it more distinctive.

For more information about Columbian monkshood, click here.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Rocky Mountain Beeplant-Cleome serrulata

The tall, purplish colored flowers that decorate roadsides and other disturbed locations late in summer is Rocky Mountain beeplant (Cleome serrulata). Despite its common name, this plant is found throughout most of North America, although in some areas it's considered weedy or invasive. It's a member of the Caper Family (Capparaceae), and also goes by the name bee spiderflower. 

Clusters of flowers with four petals and six stamens are found at the end of the stalk. Seed pods are elongated. 

Intermixed with the purplish flowers were a few white ones. I'm not sure what causes the color change.

The flowers look exactly the same except for a different color.
For more information about Rocky Mountain beeplant, click here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Shrubby Cinquefoil-Dasiphora fruticosa

This pretty yellow flower growing on a small shrub immediately appears to be part of the Rose Family (Rosaceae) with its flower parts in fives. It is called shrubby cinquefoil or bush cinquefoil (Dasiphora fruticosa), previously called Potentilla fruticosa and Pentaphylloides fruticosa. It is easy to distinguish from other potentillas because it is the only woody one.

The colorful shrub usually grows above 6,000 feet in moist places.
For more information about shrubby cinquefoil, click here.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Snake Range Buckwheat-Eriogonum holmgrenii

This cute flower with the powder-puff flowers is not easy to find--in fact, it is endemic to just one mountain range in the world. It's called the Snake Range Buckwheat or Holmgrem's Buckwheat (Eriogonum holmgrenii), and is only found in eastern Nevada. It's a member of the Buckwheat Family (Polygonaceae). 

Pink flowers are pistillate (female) while white flowers are staminate (male). 

The flowers generally bloom in July and August and grow above 9,500 feet.

They are found on limestone and metamorphic rock, and often grow in colorful patches. For more information about Snake Range buckwheat, click here.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Elkweed-Frasera speciosa

This tall flowering stalk is elkweed (Frasera speciosa), also called monument plant or green gentian and was once known as Swertia radiata. It's in the Gentian Family (Gentianaceae), and has a fascinating life story.

The plants produce basal leaves, sometimes up to 80 years, before a flowering stalk emerges. Once the plant flowers, it dies, a trait that makes it a monocarpic plant. It appears that there are flowering outbreaks, when many plants in a close area flower in the same year. 

From a distance, the flowers don't appear conspicuous among the horizontal cauline (along the stem) leaves.
A closer look shows the interesting flowers, with their lavender highlights on the green background. Flowers usually have four petals, but can have five. 

For more information about elkweed, click here.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

American Bistort-Polygonum bistortoides

Nestled among grasses and sedges in wet meadows from about 7,000 to 10,000 feet, little white cotton balls appear. Upon closer inspection, one can see that they are small flowers. This is American bistort (Polygonum bistortoides), also called snakeweed, western knotweed, and western bistort, and formerly having the genus name Bistorta.

It is native to western North America. Those with sensitive noses may be able to identify this flower by smell--some say it smells like dirty socks.

For more information about American bistort, click here.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Mountain Monardella-Monardella odoratissima

This colorful flower growing in clumps and with a noticeable minty odor is Mountain Monardella (Monardella odoratissima), a member of the Mint Family (Lamiaceae). It is native to the far western part of North America.

Butterflies are the main pollinators.

For more information about mountain monardella, click here.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Whitestem Goldenbush-Ericameria discoidea

This small shrub covered with yellow flowers is a member of the Sunflower Family (Asteraceae) and is whitestem goldenbush (Ericameria discoidea). It's native to the western United States.

The flower only has disk flowers, no ray flowers (hence the species name discoidea). 

A fly helps pollinate. For more information about whitestem goldenbush, click here.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Purple Monkeyflower-Mimulus lewisii

This attractive flower growing in moist places on stalks up to three feet tall is a member of the Figwort Family (Scrophulariaceae). It's name is purple monkeyflower or Lewis' monkeyflower (Mimulus lewisii). Although all the other monkeyflowers (Mimulus) in this area are yellow, this one has bright pink or magenta petals.

A closer look shows that it's not all pink. Inside there's a hint of yellow with some darker red spots.

The purple monkeyflower is a real treat to find, and it grows throughout western North America. For more information about it, click here.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Common Mullein-Verbascum thapsus

This tall-stemmed plant with large basal leaves, inch-wide yellow flowers is easy to identify as common mullein (Verbascum thapsus), a member of the Figwort Family (Scrophulariaceae). It is not native to North America, but it is found throughout, growing in sunny, disturbed soils. It is a biennial plant, with a small rosette of leaves growing the first year and the tall stalk and flowers the second year.

For more information about common mullein, click here.