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White Flowers

 
Photo of Mariposa-lily

Mariposa-lily

NPS photo by W. Kaesler

Mariposa-lily

Scientific name: Calochortus gunnisonii

Family: Mariposa family (Calochortaceae)

Habitat: Montane meadows and aspen groves

The tulip shaped flowers have three white, (infrequently pinkish or lavender) petals, each marked with a broad purple band and yellow gland tipped hairs near the base. These lovely flowers are well named, for mariposa is Spanish for butterfly. Mariposa lilies bloom from early July to mid August.

 
Photo of Miners-candle

Miners-candle

NPS photo by L. Benton

Miners-candle

Scientific name: Oreocarya virgata

Family: Borage family (Boraginaceae)

Habitat: Dry montane hills and gravelly slopes

This conspicuous plant resembles a columnar candle with a single 1ft. (30cm) or taller stalk covered with tiny white flowers. Sometimes, if the main stem is damaged, the plant will form several stems. The stem and leaves are covered with hairs and sometimes can become prickly. Miners-candle blooms in late June and July.

 
Photo of Rocky Mountain Pussytoes

Rocky Mountain Pussytoes

NPS photo

Rocky Mountain Pussytoes

Scientific name: Antennaria parvifolia

Family: Aster family (Asteraceae)

Habitat: Meadows, slopes, and wooded montane areas

This common plant forms mats of small lance shaped leaves. The tiny flower heads contain only disk flowers surrounded by white papery bracts. Pussytoes is sometimes confused with a related plant, pearly everlasting, which is taller and has more stem leaves. The soft flower heads feel like the bottom of a cat's foot, giving the plant its common name. Pussytoes begins blooming in early May.
 
Photo of Bristly Pricklypoppy

Bristly Picklypoppy

NPS photo

Bristly Pricklypoppy

Scientific name: Argemone hispida

Family: Poppy family (Papaveraceae)

Habitat: Disturbed montane areas

Showy white flowers with bright yellow centers grow on stems reaching a height of 2ft. (70cm.). The stems and leaves are covered with dense prickly spines. Flowers usually bloom from late May to early August.

 
Photo of Cow Parsnip

Cow Parsnip

NPS photo

Cow Parsnip

Scientific name: Heracleum sphondylium ssp montanum

Family: Parsley family (Apiaceae)

Habitat: Stream banks and wet montane to subalpine meadows

This stout plant has large maple shaped leaves and can reach a height of 3-6ft. (1-2m.). The small white flowers are clustered in umbels that form large groupings. The genus is named for Hercules because of the plant's large size. Cow parsnip blooms from late June to mid August.
 
Photo of Field Mouse-ear Chickweed

Field Mouse-ear Chickweed

NPS photo

Field Mouse-ear Chickweed

Scientific name: Cerastium strictum

Family: Chickweed family (Alsinaceae)

Habitat: Montane meadows to low alpine zones

This plant blooms in May to June with masses of white flowers. Petals are deeply loped, almost splitting into two separate petals, giving an appearance of mouse ears.

 
Photo of Yarrow

NPS photo by D. Biddle

Yarrow

Scientific name: Achillea lanulosa

Family: Aster family (Asteraceae)

Habitat: Meadows and roadsides from montane to lower alpine zones.

Yarrow bears tiny white flower heads grouped into dense flat-topped clusters. Its aromatic leaves are fern like and are pinnately divided. Yarrow is reputed to stop bleeding; its scientific name is for Achilles, and legend tells that the Greek hero stuffed his pockets with this plant to treat wounded soldiers during the Trojan War. Yarrow blooms from early July to September.

 
Photo of American Bistort

American Bistort

NPS photo by D. Pinigis

American Bistort

Scientific name: Bistorta bistortoides

Family: Buckwheat family (Polygonaceae)

Habitat: Moist montane meadows to alpine tundra.

Each slender stem, which can reach a height of 2 ft. (60 cm), bears a dense cluster of small white to pinkish flowers. The leaves are narrow and grow at the base of the plant. The plant is nicknamed "miner's socks" for the pungent fragrance of its fly-pollinated flowers. American bistort blooms from mid-June at lower elevations to August in the alpine.

 
Photo of Dotted Saxifrage

Dotted Saxifrage

NPS photo

Dotted Saxifrage

Scientific name: Ciliaria austromontana

Family: Saxifrage family (Saxifragaceae)

Habitat: Montane to lower alpine, rock ledges and forest floors

The flowers have white petals dotted with orange and red spots. Tiny awl shaped leaves form dense mats. It blooms from June to August.

 
Photo of Marsh-marigold

Marsh-marigold

NPS photo by D. Pinigis

Marsh-marigold

Scientific name: Psychrophila leptosepala

Family: Hellebore family (Helleboraceae)

Habitat: Wet subalpine to alpine areas.

Blooming in wet areas soon after the snow melts, marsh-marigold has large saucer shaped flowers with petal like sepals that are white above and bluish purple underneath. The plant has glossy dark green basal leaves. It blooms from mid-June to late August.

 
Photo of Alpine Thistle

Alpine Thistle

NPS photo

Alpine Thistle

Scientific name: Cirsium scopulorum

Family: Aster family (Asteraceae)

Habitat: Subalpine to alpine rocky slopes, roadsides, and trails.

Flower heads are born on stems up to 2 ft. (60 cm) tall in dense nodding clusters and can be white to pale purple. Leaves are lanced shaped and are tipped by spines. This striking thistle can be seen along Trail Ridge Road in July and August.

 
photo of Arctic Gentian

Arctic Gentian

NPS photo by A. Schanlou

Arctic Gentian

Scientific name: Gentianodes algida

Family: Gentian family (Gentianacea)

Habitat: Moist alpine areas

The showy goblet shaped flowers have white petals with green spots and dark purple streaks on the sides. The flowers grow in clusters from short branching stems. Rangers call this the "boo-hoo flower" because when it blooms the short alpine summer is nearly over. Arctic gentian blooms from late July to early September.

 
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 graphic of the Rocky Mountain Nature Association logo, a bighorn ram

RMNA has helped Rocky complete more than 40 projects valued at $10 million since 1986. They include the McGraw Ranch, the Fall River Visitor Center, and the Storm Mountain Pass trail. More...