Wildflowers

These are a few of the many species of wildflowers decorating the surface at Jewel Cave National Monument. Wildflowers can be found around the Visitor Center, Historic Area and along the surface trails. Remember that picking wildflowers is illegal in all National Park Service areas. Please be a responsible plant lover and take pictures not flowers. Theodore Roosevelt said it best,"...wild flowers should be enjoyed unplucked where they grow."

*Indicates that this plant is an nonnative or invasive plant in South Dakota. More information about exotic plants can be found at
Exotic Plant Managment.
 
Light purple flower with hairy stem
Pasqueflower is the official state flower of South Dakota.

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Pasqueflower

Scientific Name: Anemone patens

Family: Buttercup (Ranunculaceae)

Bloom: March - May

Alternate Names: May Day Flower, Prairie Crocus, Wind Flower, Easter Flower, Meadow Anemone

The Pasqueflower was declared South Dakota's official state flower in 1903. One of the first to bloom in the spring this flower is a beautiful sign that winter has ended. The white to deep lavender petal-like sepals can open up to 3 inches. The stem is covered with silky hairs, which helps to insulate this wildflower in the cool spring temperatures.

 
Rocky Mountain Iris
Rocky Mountain Iris with a blossom of lilac to purple leaves.

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Rocky Mountain Iris

Scientific Name: Iris missouriensis

Family: Iris (Iridaceae)

Bloom: May - June

Alternate Names: Western Blue Flag, Flag Lily, Liver Lily, Water Flag, Wild Iris

Rock Mountain Iris is sparsely seen throughout the Monument's trails. This showy wildflower has a slender stem, sword-shaped leaves, and large delicate lilac to purple flowers. It's roots and stem can be toxic, the plant produces strong and flexible fibers that are perfect for making cordage for fishing nets, rope, snares, and string.

 
Western Salsify
Western Salsify in bloom.

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Goatsbeard*

Scientific Name: Tragopogon dubius

Family: Aster (Asteraceae)

Bloom: May - August

Alternate Names: Western Salsify, Star of David, Wild Oyster Plant, Noonflower

Introduced from Europe, and naturalised in the United States, this striking yellow flower generally blooms in disturbed areas. During the seeding process this wildflower looks like a giant dandelion. The sticky, milky juice from the 1 to 3 foot tall stem was used by the Plains Indians as a remedy for indigestion.

 
Pale Purple Coneflower
Pale Purple Coneflower as seen along the Canyons Trail.

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Purple Coneflower

Scientific Name: Echinacea angustifolia

Family: Aster (Asteraceae)

Bloom: June - July

Alternate Names: Black Sampson, Echinacea

Purple Coneflowers can be seen along the Canyons Trail, Roof Trail and in abundance in the Historic area. The bristly stem can reach 1 to 2 feet tall attaching to a spiky dome-like head with drooping pink-purple petals.

 
Hounds Tongue
Hounds Tongue sprouting by the historic entrance.

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Hound's Tongue*

Scientific Name: Cynoglossum officinale

Family: Borage (Borainaceae)

Bloom: June - July

This dull reddish-purple toxic plant was introduced from Europe and can be seen mainly in the Historic Area of the Monument. The flowers of this plant are produced along the coiled stalks of the plant that can grow 1 to 4 feet tall. If ingested, animals will be poisoned and the bur-like seeds act like Velcro and stick to animals and clothing.

 
Wild Blue Flax
Wild Blue Flax in bloom.

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Wild Blue Flax

Scientific Name: Linum lewisii

Family: Flax (Linaceae)

Bloom: June - August

Alternate Names: Prairie Flax, Lewis Flax, Meadow Flax

This showy blue wildflower is desirable for many animals including deer, antelope and multiple bird species. Blue Flax is aesthetically pleasing to the eye and is very beneficial for erosion control. This species of wildflower can be used as a fire suppressant when it is in the semi-evergreen stage.

 
Pink flower with gray green leaves
Missouri Milkvetch provides a bright pop of color along the trail.

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Missouri Milkvetch

Scientific Name: Astragalus missouriensis

Family: Pea (Fabaceae)

Bloom: June - August

This short-stemmed plant grows low to the ground and has gray-green to whitish leaves. The rose to purple flowers are enclosed by hairy pointed sepals. The distinct seed pods are oblong and inflated, growing brown and leathery as they mature.

 
White three petaled flower
Gunnison's Mariposa Lily in bloom.

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Gunnison's Mariposa Lily

Scientific Name: Calochortus gunnisonii

Family: Lily (Liliaceae)

Bloom: June - August

The Gunnison's Mariposa Lily has a delicate, three petaled white flower that blooms at the top of a slender stem. This tulip-like wildflower can be a sweet and nutritious snack for many animals.

 
Black Eyed Susan
Black Eyed Susan

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Blackeyed Susan

Scientific Name: Rudbeckia hirta

Family: Aster (Asteraceae)

Bloom: June - August

The Black Eyed Susan wildflower is found throughout the Black Hills and is used in areas prone to erosion along hill sides and road sides. This bright-yellow wildflower can grow 1 to 2 feet tall with a brown sphere-shaped head 2 ½ inches in width.

 
Stemless Hymenoxys
Stemless Hymenoxys throughout the Historic Area.

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Stemless Hymenoxys

Scientific Name: Hymenoxys acaulis

Family: Aster (Asteraceae)

Bloom: June - September

This wildflower prefers nearly soil-free area, and can be found growing among the rocks along the Roof and Cnayons trails. The Stemless Hymenoxys are less than a foot tall and display a bright yellow flower from the stemless stalk.

 
Common Yarrow
Common Yarrow plant found within Jewel Cave National Monument.

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Common Yarrow*

Scientific Name: Achillea millefolium

Family: Aster (Asteraceae)

Bloom: June - September

Alternative Names: Milfoil, Western Yarrow

Common Yarrow can be seen throughout the Monument, but is most common around the Historic Area and along the Canyons Trail. The tiny white flowers form in an umbrella-like cluster and can grow 1 to 3 feet tall. When the fern-like leaves are crushed the smell of herbs fills the air.

 
Purple flower on whitish green stem
Wavyleaf Thistle is one of the native thistles at the monument.

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Wavyleaf Thistle

Scientific Name: Cirsium undulatum

Family: Aster (Asteraceae)

Bloom: June - September

Wavyleaf Thistle is one of the few native thistles that can be seen throughout Jewel Cave National Monument. When the flowers are in bloom they attract many species of butterflies. This plant grows 3 to 4 feet tall with the flowers varying in colors from lavender to pink. Although Flodman's Thistle looks very similar, Wavyleaf Thistle tends to have a creamy white color and wavy leaves.

 
Wooly Verbena
Wooly Verbena attracts many species of bees and butterflies.

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Wooly Verbena

Scientific Name: Verbena stricta

Family: Vervain (Verbenaceae)

Bloom: June - September

Alternate Names: Wooly Vervain, Hoary Vervain

These beautiful purple pencil-like wildflowers attract many species of bees and butterflies to the Monument. Wooly Verbena can grow 1 to 4 feet tall with noticeable purple flowers blooming at the peak of the five spreading lobes.

 
Yellow flower with upright brown center
Prairie Coneflower found along the Canyons Trail.

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Prairie Coneflower

Scientific Name: Ratibida columnifera

Family: Aster (Asteraceae)

Bloom: July - August

Alternate Names: Mexican Hat, Long-Head Coneflower, Columnar Prairie Coneflower

The eye-catching Prairie Coneflowers can be seen along the Canyons and Roof Trails, and along Highway 16 as it winds through the Monument. This wildflower can sometimes reach up to four feet tall. The flower head is a dome-like cylinder disk with 10 to 12 bright yellow petal drooping down as soon as they develop.

 
Harebell
Purple Harebell in bloom.

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Harebell

Scientific Name: Campanula rotundifolia

Family: Bellflower (Campanulaceae)

Bloom: July - August

Alternate Names: Bluebell, Bluebell-of-Scotland, Blue Rain Flower, Heathbells, Witches Thimbles

Harebells are usually found in small groups of two or three plants and can be seen on the Roof Trail, Canyons Trail, and throughout the Historic Area. This delicate wildflower can grow about 15 inches high forming a bell-shaped blossom at the top in varying shades of blue to lavender.

 
Purple flower with yellow center and green leaves
Threenerve Fleabanes in bloom.

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Threenerve Fleabane

Scientific Name: Erigeron subtrinervis

Family: Aster (Asteraceae)

Bloom: July - August

Fleabanes are common throughout the Black Hills and tend to inhabit open forests. With three prominent nerves extending the length of each lance-shaped leaf, this plant is aptly named. Each flower head contains 100 to 150 purple or lavender ray florets, surrounding many yellow disc florets. At times, the flower heads reach over two inches in diameter, making it a showy display.

 
Wild Bergamot
Wild Bergamot in bloom along the hiking trails.

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Wild Bergamot

Scientific Name: Monarda fistulosa

Family: Mint (Lamiaceae)

Bloom: July - August

Alternate Names: Horsemint, Beebalm

This native light purple wildflower can be seen on the Roof Trail, Canyons Trail and surrounding the surface in the historic area. Growing in large patches, the large rose to purple colored flowers stand out among other plants. The flowers grow at the end of the 1 to 3 foot tall square stems with lance shaped leaves.

 
Missouri Goldenrod
Missouri Goldenrod is found throughout the monument.

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Missouri Goldenrod

Scientific Name: Solidago missouriensis

Family: Aster (Asteraceae)

Bloom: July - September

Alternate Names: Prairie Goldenrod, Tolmie's Goldenrod

This beautiful late summer wildflower can be found in abundance along the Roof and Canyons trails. Missouri Goldenrod attracts many species of bees and other insects, as it is a vital source of pollen and nectar. The large clusters of small yellow flowers typically grow to one side of the curved branches of this 1 to 6 foot tall plant.

 
Purple flowers with green leaves
This flower can be seen along the Canyons Trail.

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Rocky Mountain Gayfeather

Scientific Name: Liatris lingulistylis

Family: Aster (Asteraceae)

Bloom: Late July - September

Alternate Names: Rocky Mountain Blazing Star

The brilliant purple flowers of this plant grow in dense spikes with long wavy bracts. The stem can be 8 to 30 inches tall and is covered with long spear-like leaves. This unique Dr. Suess-esque flower is very alluring to monarchs and other butterflies.

Last updated: August 20, 2020

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