• Rainbow over Half Dome

    Yosemite

    National Park California

The World’s a Stage, and it’s Showtime for a Flower

June 14, 2013 Posted by: BW - Park Ranger (White Wolf)
Even though the dogwood flowers have faded away by now, there are plenty more plants ready to continue the show as they begin to bloom throughout the park. A drive along the Tioga Road reveals more than the epic scenery of the high country. A small reddish pink flower commonly carpets the roadside and is so brilliant that it grabs your attention from the granite around it. This is the Pride of the Mountains (Penstemon newberryi) and it can seem like the domes are proud to be decorated with this showy flower.
    
Mountain Pride along Tioga
Mountain Pride along Tioga Road

Continuing on the Big Oak Flat Road toward Yosemite Valley, a large lupine species (Lupinus sp.) is blooming now along the road throughout the Big Meadow fire scar area near Foresta. These vibrant purple flowers grow in obvious spike-like clusters that stick up like dancers above a bright green bushy stage. There are at least 26 species of lupine that grow in Yosemite, but they all have palmately compound leaves and bilaterally symmetrical flowers.
 
Lupine along Big Oak Flat Road
Lupine along Big Oak Flat Road
Lupine along Big Oak Flat Road

Not to be outdone, Yosemite Valley is a great setting for flowers to support the performance of the lead actors. Of course, even the waterfalls and rock walls can be upstaged from time to time. El Capitan is just the backdrop to the Western azalea (Rhododendron occidentale) blooming under the oak woodland to the west end of El Capitan Meadow. These shrubs feature fragrant clusters of large white flowers highlighted by a yellow splotch.

Azalea in El Cap Meadow
Western Azalea in El Capitan Meadow
Azalea in El Cap Meadow

Roadside Naturalist, BW




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Did You Know?

Riparian area in Tuolumne Meadows

Riparian communities are adjacent to the river channel and tributaries; they are the interface between the river and surrounding meadow and upland communities. They provide specialized habitat and important nutrients to the meadow and river systems.