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Blue & Purple Wildflowers

 
Photo of Mountain Iris

Mountain Iris

NPS photo

Mountain Iris

Scientific name: Iris missouriensis

Family: Iris family (Iridaceae)

Habitat: Found in moist montane meadows.

These showy light blue to lilac colored flowers have petals streaked with dark purple veins and with yellowish white bases. They bloom from late May to early July. The name Iris comes from the Greek, for the rainbow who was the winged messenger of the gods; the flower was named for the rainbow's colorful cloak.

 
Photo of Horsemint

Horsemint

NPS photo by W. Kaesler

Horsemint

Scientific name: Monarda fistulosa var. menthifolia

Family: Mint family (Lamiaceae)

Habitat: Grows in clusters in sunny montane areas.

The purplish rose flowers grow in dense heads at the tops of 1 to 3 ft (40-100 cm) stems. Because of its spicy aroma, the plant is also known as wild oregano.

 
Photo of Colordo Columbine

Colorado Columbine

NPS photo by A. Schonlau

Colorado Columbine

Scientific name: Aquilegia coerulea

Family: Hellebore family (Helleboraceae)

Habitat: It can be found growing in shaded montane and subalpine forests, as well as rocky alpine sites.

Colorado columbine is the state flower of Colorado. The petals are drawn out into long spurs between the sepals. The spurs contain nectar, which attracts butterflies and long tongued bees. Colorado columbine begins blooming in June at lower elevations through August in alpine areas.

 
Photo of Mountain Lupin

Mountain Lupine

NPS photo by C. Johnson

Mountain Lupine

Scientific name: Lupinus argenteus

Family: Pea family (Fabaceae)

Habitat: Grows in dry montane to subalpine areas

Mountain lupine can reach a height of 1 to 3 ft. (40-100cm). The color of the petals can vary from creamy white to blue. The leaves are palmately compound with five or more leaflets.

 
Photo of Purple Fringe

Purple-fringe

NPS photo by R. Smith

Purple-fringe

Scientific name: Phacelia sericea

Family: Waterleaf family (Hydrophyllaceae)

Habitat: Dry rocky montane to subalpine

Purple-fringe typically has many stems, each with a dense cluster of flowers. The flowers are deep purple. Yellow tipped stamens project from each flower, giving the clusters a fringed appearance. Purple fringe blooms from early June to early August.

 
Photo of Aspen Daisy

Aspen Daisy

NPS photo by D. Pinigis

Aspen Daisy

Scientific name: Erigeron speciosus

Family: Aster family (Asteraceae)

Habitat: Wet meadows, aspen groves and conifer forests from montane to subalpine areas.

This common daisy has light blue to lavender (sometimes white) ray flowers. The leaves are hairless except on the veins. It blooms from mid July to August.

 
Photo of Pasqueflower

Pasqueflower and inset photo of Pasquefllower without pedals just feathery stamens

NPS photo by A. Schonlau
Inset NPS photo by D. Biddle

Pasqueflower

Scientific name: Pulsatilla patens

Family: Buttercup family (Ranunculaceae)

Habitat: Well-drained open slopes from montane to tree line

One of the earliest flowers to bloom, Pasqueflowers begin blooming as early as March in lower montane areas and can be seen through July at treeline. The large flowers have lavender tepals (petals and sepals that look alike) and bloom before the leaves develop. After the tepals drop, the flowers appear as feathery plumed heads due to the elongated styles.

 
Photo of Monkshood

Monkshood

NPS photo

Monkshood

Scientific name: Aconitum columbianum

Family: Hellebore family (Helleboraceae)

Habitat: Wet montane to subalpine areas

Monkshood is a tall plant with stems up to 57 inches (150 cm) tall. The flowers resemble larkspur except that Monkshood's upper sepal resembles a helmet or hood rather than a spur. Monkshood has two color forms, which are both found in the park – a deep blue- purple form and a greenish-yellow form. It blooms from late June to late August.

 
Photo of Mountain Hairbell

Mountain Harebell

NPS photo by R. Smith

Mountain Harebell

Scientific name: Campanula rotundifolia

Family: Bellflower family (Campanulaceae)

Habitat: Montane to alpine meadows and aspen groves.

This plant has many slender stems, each bearing several bell shaped blue flowers. It blooms from late June into early October. This plant grows in mountainous areas around the world, and is also known as the bluebell-of-Scotland.

 
Photo of Tall Chiming Bells

Tall Chiming-bells

NPS photo by D. Biddle

Tall Chiming-bells

Scientific name: Mertensia ciliata

Family: Borage Family (Boraginaceae)

Habitat: Abundant alongside subalpine and lower alpine streams and drainages.

Clusters of bell-shaped flowers grow on stems 8 to 31 inches tall (20-80cm). The flower buds are pinkish to lavender, changing to blue when the flowers open. This color change alerts bees that flowers are ripe for pollination. Tall chimingbells bloom from mid-June to mid-August.

 
Photo of Alpine Forget-me-not

Alpine Forget-me-not

NPS photo

Alpine Forget-me-not

Scientific name: Eritrichum aretioides

Family: Borage Family (Boraginaceae)

Habitat: Open rocky alpine slopes and dry meadows.

Alpine forget-me-not is one of the first to bloom on the tundra, usually appearing from late May to early July. Several flowers cover a tiny compact cushion plant, with each stem typically less than an inch tall (rarely up to 3 inches (7 cm). The fragrant flowers have dark blue to purple petals with a yellow central ring.

 
Photo of Sky Pilot

Sky Pilot

NPS photo by R. Smith

Sky Pilot

Scientific name: Polemonium viscosum

Family: Phlox Family (Polemoniaceae)

Habitat: Rocky alpine areas.

These eye-catching clusters of flowers are a purplish blue with bright yellow anthers. The flowers smell either sweet or skunky with sweeter flowers generally found at higher elevations. Growing on stems up to 4 inches (10 cm) tall, sky pilots bloom from June to early August.

 
References

Beidleman, Linda H., Richard G. Beidleman, Beatrice E. Willard, and Ruth Ashton Nelson. Plants of Rocky Mountain National Park: A Complete Revision of Ruth Ashton Nelson's Popular Manual. Helena, MT: Rocky Mountain Nature Association & Falcon Pub., 2000. Print.

Kershaw, Linda, A. MacKinnon, and Jim Pojar. Plants of the Rocky Mountains. Edmonton: Lone Pine Pub., 1998. Print.

Did You Know?

a photo of the mountains at treeline

Temperature causes tree line. Trees need an average growing temperature of about 50 degrees.