Plants

Mesa Verde is in the Colorado Plateau Province characterized by deep canyons, high elevation and an arid climate. These factors shape the plant species that grow at the park. Pinyon-juniper woodlands, mixed herb grasslands, and mountain shrubland are the largest plant communities at Mesa Verde supporting many of the park's flora.

Over 640 species of plants occur in Mesa Verde National Park. These include approximately 556 species of vascular plants, 75 species of fungi, 21 species of moss, and 151 species of lichen. In addition, a number of rare endemic species occur in Mesa Verde that are found nowhere else. There are also about 80 species of non-native plants that have invaded the park, some of which have been classified as invasive, noxious weeds which, by law, means they must be controlled.

 
Separation bar with triangles - black and white
 

Discovering the Plants of Mesa Verde National Park


Use the following photo gallery to scroll through photographs of some of the most frequently seen plants in the park. If you are trying to identify a white, pink, or blue wildflower, be sure to look in all three color sections below.

Note the following codes used in the photo gallery:
Sp, Su, F = Flowering time of spring, summer, fall spp. = several species of that plant NN = non-native



Thanks to Al Schneider of www.swcoloradowildflower.com for providing the photographs for the following photo gallery.
Photos are ©Al Schneider and may not be reproduced without permission.
 
 
Separation bar with triangles - black and white
 

Plant Species Lists

 
Separation bar with triangles - black and white
 
Suggested Plant Walks

Listed below are the best locations to view and understand the plant life in Mesa Verde National Park. Wayside exhibits and trail guides will assist you in identifying the park vegetation. Please remember that picking wildflowers, killing or collecting any plant in the park is against the law.

  • In the Headquarters Area, between the Museum and Chief Ranger's Office
    Small signs discuss the plants common to Mesa Verde.
  • Prater Ridge Trail (can be a short stroll or a 7.8-mile loop)
    Accessible from Morefield Campground and is one of the best trails for wildflowers.
  • Knife Edge Trail (2 miles, round-trip)
    Accessible from Morefield Campground. Take along the trail guide to learn about park plants as well as other park topics.
  • Petroglyph Point Trail (2.4 mile round-trip)
    Located near the museum and Spruce Tree House. Take along the trail guide to learn about park plants as well as other park topics.

Last updated: January 18, 2020

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 8
Mesa Verde National Park, CO 81330

Phone:

970-529-4465

Contact Us