Wildflowers and plants



Plants that grow in any given place change over periods of years or decades. This process is called plant succession or more broadly, ecological succession, because as the plants change so do the microorganisms and animals.

In places of bare vegetation, smaller plants like mosses, grasses and flowering plants begin this process. Aspen then start to grow in these open, sunny areas and lodgepole pine trees populate open, burned areas.

Eventually, these trees create too much shade for their seedlings to survive and are succeeded by ponderosa pine, Engelmann Spruce, Douglas Fir or Subalpine fir at varying elevations.

A mixture of all of these plants forms a climax vegetation that will stand over time unless disrupted by natural disturbances such as avalanches, wind storms, floods or climate change. The process then begins all over again.

Photo of a diatom

NPS photo


Microscopic colors and patterns abound anywhere where water is found.

Orange Hawk weed

NPS photo by B. Kolokowsky

Invasive Exotic Plants

Don't be fooled. Cunning plants can upset vegetation processes in the native landscape.

Photo of lichens

NPS photo by Stan & Connie Hegin


Ancient pioneers of the plant world interact with living and non-living organisms.

Photo of Liverworts

NPS photo by D. Rycrof

Mosses & Liverworts

Thank bryophytes for lime green cushioning on top of Rocky ground.

Photo of an Ink cap mushroom

NPS photo


Coming soon

Photo of a Snowlover

NPS photo

Rare & Endangered Plants

Coming soon

Photo of trees

NPS photo by D. Biddle

Trees & Shrubs

These mighty groups of plants have deep roots in Rocky's landscape.

Photo of a Columbine

NPS photo by R. Smith


Color and variety paints visual masterpieces all around the park.

Did You Know?