Wildflowers – Mountain Edition

Every year I can’t wait for the snow to melt in the high country in the spring so I can hike, preferably to a high alpine lake. The season is so short, but I try to take advantage. It’s fuel for the soul. I never cease to be amazed at color and complexity of the alpine wildflowers, too, that are so well-adapted to their harsh environment.

Stemless four-nerve-daisyStemless Four-Nerve-Daisy – This is a brilliant flower with an unfortunate name. Nonetheless, it grows in clumps, low to the ground at very high altitudes (this photo was taken at 12,000’). They always face east.


fairy slipper, Calypso orchid

Fairy slipper – The more scientific name for this flower is Calypso orchid, but a closer look will reveal why it has it’s nickname. I don’t see these often, but it’s always a treat.



Jacob's ladderJacob’s Ladder – This “cute” flower grows in bunches and is part of the phlox family. The ladder reference in the name comes from the leaves which are divided into smaller leaflets and resemble a ladder.


globeflowerGlobeflower – These hardy flowers are some of the first to bloom in the alpine spring (which is actually late June) and are often found growing in places where snow has recently retreated. They are a welcome sign of the new season.


Glacier lily, alpine lily

Glacier Lily – These flowers are also early bloomers, growing on forest edges and meadows with lots of moisture (such as melting snow). I learned that their bulbs and green seed pods are great food sources for elk, deer, bighorn sheep, and bears. Rodents including ground squirrels dig up the bulbs to store as a winter food source.

Shooting starShooting Star – This is another flower I don’t see often, but on this hike there was a small hillside covered in them. These flowers are “buzz-pollinated” (new term!) by bumblebees. The bees grasp the flower’s anthers and buzz their wings, causing a vibration and a shower of pollen.