Thursday, June 17, 2010

Take a Walk on the Wild Side by Donna Duffy

The wildflowers are spectacular right now,  and with the recent rain, will just be getting better! Grab your hiking boots and explore one of the many mountain parks in our area. You may see some of these lovely Colorado natives.

Look in moist areas for the beautiful foliage of this native from the Convallariaceae (Mayflower) family. It's Maianthemum amplexicaule, commonly known as False Solomon's Seal. I found this in the Boulder foothills, tucked away with with some ferns at streamside.

Look at the incredible bloom from the Hydrophyllaceae (Waterleaf) family. It's Hydrophyllum fendleri, commonly known as Waterleaf. Look for it in riparian woodlands, foothills and montane areas.

Most of us are familiar with this striking plant; it makes its presence known from a distance with its bright color. This is from the Scrophulariaceae (Figwort) family, and the genus is Castilleja. There are several species in Colorado, with a wide range of colors including pink, red, orange and greenish yellow.

If the bloom on this beauty looks familiar, you may have its cousin growing in your home garden. This is one of many varieties of Penstemon, also from the Scrophulariaceae (Figwort) family. This one is Penstemon secundiflorus, known as One-sided Penstemon. I've spotted it on almost every trail I've walked in the past few weeks.

Look for yellow trumpet-shaped bright yellow flowers, and you may have found Lithospermum incisum, from the Boraginaceae (Borage) family. Commonly know as Puccoon, it grows in dry areas on hillsides, in prairies and meadows.

To round out our color palette, see if you can find the pale blue flowers of Mertensia lanceolata, also in the Boraginaceae family. True to their dainty shape, these are commonly known as Chiming Bells.

Grab your boots, your camera and head for the hills or prairie! Colorado wildflowers beckon.