In my last wildflower post, I promised I would share some flowers not growing along the edge of my driveway, and this week's flowers are about as far away from my driveway as you can get (as far away as I will get this summer anyway). While we were in Colorado, I was obsessive about photographing wildflowers, so I've got a lot of photos. I thought I'd spread them out over three Wednesdays, divided into three ecoregions: plains plants, desert plants, and mountain plants. This week, we'll begin with the plains.
I brought two floras, a pocket key, and two pictorial guides with me, and bought a third pictorial guide white I was there, but I wasn't satisfied with any of them. The floras are more technical than my current state of botanical knowledge allows--and I didn't have time to go through the very detailed keys for all of the plants I saw--and the pictorial guides were too incomplete. Any botanists out there want to collaborate on a Newcomb's-style key for the Rocky Mountains? I also didn't take detailed enough photos or notes for after-the-fact IDs of many of the plants (I actually thought I'd remember those details!). The upshot is that I don't have positive IDs for several of the flowers--some I only know to genus, others merely family, but I want to share them anyway, because they're so pretty, and maybe someone out there can help me out.
We spent our first few days in a state park right outside of Denver, with a plains community--dryland plants blooming in a wet year. The first flower, below, is a pea whose name I haven't figured out.
Next, another mystery plant, a sweet little orange-yellow composite on droopy/rubbery stems that grew all over the place.
And below, two more sunflowers I failed to ID (not off to a very good start, am I?).
This one I can identify--Canada thistle (Cirsium ravens), an invasive, but pretty, weed. (Aster family).
Wild (or Western) blue flax (Linum lewisii) has delicate petals in the sweetest shade of blue (flax family).
I love poppies of all types and colors and these bright white prickly poppies (Argemone polyanthemos) are no exception. I could see them blooming along the highway all along our drive through eastern Colorado (poppy family)
This plant is so cool--western, or prairie, spiderwort (Tradescantia occidentalis). It appears so exotic, with its three petals and long leaves like spider's legs (spiderwort family).
The prickly pear cacti (Opuntia polyacantha) were loving the recent deluge of rain that hit Denver this spring. It's so funny that I grew up in the suburbs of Denver and hardly ever saw cactus plants as a child (other than my mom's houseplants and the occasional front yard of an ahead-of-their-time xeriscaper), and yet this is the natural vegetation of this area--not Kentucky bluegrass. (Cactus family).
This is just one of several different species of lupine (Lupinus spp.) I saw while in Colorado. It could take a lifetime of study (or at least more than 11 days) to puzzle them all out. (Pea family).
This show-stopper is scarlet gillia, or skyrocket, or fairy trumpet (Ipomopsis aggregata). It's the biggest one I've ever seen (usually, I've seen tiny ones, truly sized for fairies, growing along mountain trails). I wish the picture was better, but I was down a steep, sandy slope from this beauty. (Plox family).
These lovelies are called Indian blanket (Gaillardia pulchella). I love how the ray flowers are fringed. (Aster family).
Finally, another mystery plant, with odd, asymmetrical flowers. Any guesses?
What's blooming in your neck of the woods?