• Mount Rainier peeks through clouds, viewed across subalpine wildflowers and glacial moraine.

    Mount Rainier

    National Park Washington

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Forest Wildflowers - Pink/Red/Purple

 
Alaska Violet side view (left) showing spur on back petal, and front view (right).

Alaska Violet. Side view (left) shows the sack-like spur curving up behind the back petal; and front view (right).

NPS, Crow Vecchio/Kristyn Loving

Alaska Violet
Viola langsdorfii

This small violet has round to heart-shaped leaves and grows to be about 6 inches (15 cm) tall. Distinguished from similar violet species by a sack-like spur on the back petal (as shown in left image); this violet can be found growing in moist meadows and along stream banks.

 
Candystick

Candystick

NPS, Bev Killam

Candystick
Allotropa virgata

Completely lacking green leaves, this plant grows as a single stem marked with red and white stripes. Each flower has red-brown sepals but no petals, and underneath each flower is a small scale-like leaf. Candystick are mycotrophic, which means instead of using photosynthesis to get energy, they form a complicated three-way relationship with fungus and coniferous fir trees to survive. The candystick draws energy from the fungus associated with its roots. The fungus in turn derives energy from tapping into the roots of fir trees. With no need for the sun, candystick can be found in shady, deep woods.

 
Crimson Columbine

Crimson Columbine

NPS, Chris Roundtree

Crimson Columbine
Aquilegia formosa

Leaves are mostly basal with three main lobes, each main lobe further divided into three lobes, and bluish-green in color. Usually found growing along streams and the edges of meadows between 2,500-5,500 feet (760-1,670 meters) elevation.

 
Heart-Leaf TwayBlade (right), with close-up of flower (left).

Heart-Leaf TwayBlade (right), with close-up of flower (left).

NPS Photo

Heart-leaf Twayblade
Listera cordata

A member of the Orchid family, this plant is named for its two heart-shaped leaves. Flowers are mostly green, but can also be reddish to reddish-brown. Twayblade can be found growing in moist coniferous forest up to 4,500 feet (1,372 meters).

 
Fairy Slipper

Fairy Slipper

NPS Photo

Fairy Slipper
Calypso bulbosa

Also known as a Calypso Orchid, this beautiful flower is a hidden treasure of Mount Rainier's forests. A single flower, barely reaching a height of 6 inches (15 cm), emerges from a bulblike corm, with only one dark green egg-shaped leaf per plant. Fairy Slippers have delicate, easily-damaged root systems, and can be hard to spot among the thick moss carpeting forest floors. If you are fortunate enough to find a fairy slipper, please take care to avoid trampling them.

 
Kinnikinnik

Kinnikinnik

NPS Photo

Kinnikinnick
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

A common evergreen shrub, Kinnikinnik often forms mats on dry slopes, forest clearings, and other exposed sites. Leaves are leathery and oval-shaped, alternating along tough reddish stems. Drooping, urn-shaped pink flowers give way to bright red berries. Kinnikinnik is also known as Common Bearberry.

 
Pinesap

Pinesap

NPS, Crow Vecchio

Pinesap

Monotropa hypopithys

This mycotrophic plant is usually found growing in clumps in old coniferous forests. A single stem grows to be 4-16 inches (10-40 cm) tall, and can range in color from yellowish-brown to the occasional bright red.

 
Pippsissewa

Pippsissewa

NPS Photo

Pippsissewa
Chimaphila umbellata

Pippsissewa is a dwarf evergreen shrub, with elliptical, toothed, shiny green leaves. Each plant has a loose cluster of several whitish-pink to rose colored flowers. Commonly grows on well-drained forest slopes throughout the park.

 
Little Pipsissewa

Little Pippsissewa

NPS, Crow Vecchio

Little Pippsissewa
Chimaphila menziesii

Also known as Menzies' Pippsissewa, this dwarf shrub is smaller than its relative Pippsissewa (C. umbellata), only growing to be about 6 inches (15cm) tall. Leaves are lance-shaped to oval, and bluish green. Flowers tend to be paler white-pink. Little pippsissewa is much less common than pippsissewa, though they can be found growing together in similar terrain.

 
Spring Beauty

Spring Beauty

NPS Photo

Spring Beauty
Montia parvifolia

Often found growing in large patches on moist rocky outcrops or stream banks, this plant has small oval basal leaves with a few alternating leaves along a reddish-colored stem. Flowers are small, only about 1/8-1/2 inches (7-15mm) long, and there are three to eight flowers per stem.

 
Starflower

Starflower

NPS, Bev Killam

Starflower
Trientalis borealis ssp. latifolia

This plant has 4-7 leaves clustered at the top of a 4-12 inch (10-30 cm) tall, slender stem. Flowers have 5-9 petals, though 6-7 petals most common, pink to rose in color. A related species, Northern Starflower (Trientalis europaea ssp. arctica) has white petals and is slightly shorter.

 
Twin Flower

Twin Flower

NPS Photo

Twinflower
Linnaea borealis

Spreads on long running stems with upright stems branching off that support the distinctive paired flowers. Leaves are oval, toothed, and evergreen. The flowers range in color from pink to whitish-pink, and have the faint scent of almond. Very common throughout the park, often found carpeting sections of the forest floor.

 
Western Coralroot

Western Coralroot

NPS, Crow Vecchio

Western Coralroot
Corallorhiza mertensiana

Stems are between 6-16 inches (15-40 cm) tall, and usually grow in clumps in the understory of dense forest. Stems are typically reddish-purple, though coloring can range from pink to yellow as well. Coralroots are saprophytes, which means they gain nutrition by assimilating dead organic matter rather than making their own food through photosynthesis.

 
Wild Ginger

Wild Ginger

NPS, Crow Vecchio

Wild Ginger

Asarum caudatum

Leaves are heart-shaped and supported on slender stalks 4-6 inches (10-15 cm) tall. Flowers are usually tucked beneath the leaves, and have no petals. Instead, three wide, purplish-brown sepals form a cup. Named for the strong scent of lemon-ginger it exudes when crushed, Wild Ginger is believed to have medicinal properties, historically utilized by many native tribes. Relatively uncommon, but keep in eye out for this unusual plant in the Nisqually and Ohanapecosh valleys.

Did You Know?

Excerpt from a page of Kenneth Arnold's report showing notes and sketches of the

On June 24th, 1947, pilot Kenneth Arnold sighted nine strange objects "flying like a saucer would" passing by his plane as he flew near Mount Rainier. His encounter is considered the first widely reported UFO sighting, and triggered many similar accounts of "flying saucers".