Subalpine Wildflowers - Blue/Purple

Alpine Aster_sml

Alpine Aster

NPS Photo

Aster, Alpine
Oresostemma apligenum

A widespread flower in drier meadows and stony slopes (common in the Sunrise area). Distinguished by a single flower head per stem, with a few small, narrow leaves along stem.


Cascade Aster

NPS Photo

Aster, Cascade
Eucephallus ledophyllus

Though the purple flowers are similar to Alpine Aster (Oresostemma apligenum), this plant is marked by multiple flowers on each stem, not just one, and also grows to be much taller, reaching 24 inches (60 cm) high. Leaves are hairless on top, woolly underneath, and smaller lower on the stem. Common in subalpine meadows above 5,000 feet (1,524 m).


Broadleaf Lupine

NPS, Steve Redman

Broadleaf Lupine
Lupinus latifolius

Branched, hairy stems between 12-24 inches (30-60 cm) tall, with 7-8 leaflets per leaf. Abundant in open areas and meadows throughout the park's lower elevations up to about 5,000 feet (1,500 meters), where it tends to get replaced by the smaller but similar-looking Subalpine Lupine (Lupinus articus).

Dwarf Lupine_CRoundtree_sml

Dwarf Lupine

NPS, Chris Roundtree

Dwarf Lupine
Lupinus lepidus

Less than 6 inches (15 cm) tall, this smaller relative of Broadleaf Lupine (Lupinus latifolius) grows at higher elevations in the park, generally above 7,000 feet (2,100 meters). Grows to form mats with a stout, woody base, and silvery leaves with 5-7 leaflets.


Common Harebell

NPS Photo

Harebell, Common
Campanula rotundifolia

Also known as Scots Bluebells, this plant has a recognizable "bell"-shaped blue-purple flower. Basal leaves are round to oval in shape, while leaves along the slender stems are narrow and linear. Prefers open talus slopes, cliffs, and streambanks up to 6,500 feet (1,981 m).

Jeffrey's Shooting Star, Dodecatheon jeffreyi 1_sml

Jeffrey's Shooting Star

NPS, Crow Vecchio

Jeffrey's Shooting Star
Dodecatheon jeffreyi

Usually grows in clumps, with long (6-16 in/15-40 cm) basal leaves. The distinctive flowers with folded-back petals rise above the leaves on a leafless stem up to 20 inches (50 cm) tall. Common in wet subalpine meadows and along streams.

Low Jacob's Ladder_sml

Low Jacob's Ladder

NPS Photo

Low Jacob's Ladder
Polemonium pulcherrimum

Leaves are mostly basal, with numerous oval to round leaflets, with stems less than 4 inches (10 cm) high. Common on cliffs and rocky ridges, as well as in the meadows at Sunrise.

Mountain Bog Gentian, Gentiana Calycosa 2_sml

Mountain Bog Gentian

NPS, Crow Vecchio

Mountain Bog Gentian
Gentiana calycosa

A single flower tops each unbranched stem, with opposite-paired leaves along stem. Common in wet subalpine meadows between 4,500-8,000 feet (approx. 1,400-2,400 meters).


Cascade Penstemon

NPS Photo

Penstemon, Cascade
Penstemon serrulatus

A very common plant in the park, ranging from 4,000-6,000 feet (1,219-1,828 m), along streams and in wet, rocky areas. Growing between 6-24 inches (15-60 cm) tall, this plant has unbranched stems topped with a cluster of blue-purple tubed-shaped flowers. Along the stem are pairs of toothed, lance- to oval-shaped leaves, about 4 inches (10 cm) long.


Menzie's Penstemon

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Penstemon, Menzie's
Penstemon davidsonii var. Menziesii

Unlike the related Cascade Penstemon (Penstemon serrulatus) which has tall stems, this Penstemon species forms dense mats that can be up to 20 inches (50 cm) across. It has short oval leaves, less than an inch in length, along the short stems with several blue-purple flowers. Found tucked into cliff crevices and rocky slopes, between 5,000-8,000 feet (1,524-2,438 m).


Alpine Speedwell

NPS Photo

Speedwell, Alpine
Veronica wormskjoldii

Similar to Cusick's Speedwell (Veronica cusickii), but distinguished by hairy leaves that can be toothed. Branching from creeping rootstalk, the stems have waxy hairs, grow between 2-12 inches (5-30 cm) tall, and are topped by tiny blue flowers. Found in moist meadows above 5,000 feet (1,524 m).

Cusick's Speedwell_sml

Cusick's Speedwell

NPS Photo

Speedwell, Cusick's
Veronica cusickii

Spreads along slender rootstocks to form loose mats, with dark green toothless and hairless leaves along the stem. Widespread in meadows and along streams above 5,000 feet (1,500 meters).

Tall Bluebells_sml

Tall Bluebells

NPS Photo

Tall Bluebells
Mertensia paniculata

Reaching about 3 feet (1 meter) in height, this tall flower has several stems in a tuft with large leaves. The bell-shaped flowers appear pink when a bud, darkening to blue-purple when blooming. Found throughout the park at slighly lower elevations between 2,500-6,500 feet (760-1,980 m), in moist, open areas.


Edible Thistle

NPS Photo

Thistle, Edible
Cirsium edule

Easily identified by its purple, fuzzy flowers and spiny leaves, thistle has stout, leafy stems, ranging from 20-80 inches (50-200 cm) tall. Found throughout the park in open forest, hillsides, and along roads.

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