Subalpine Wildflowers - Pink/Red

 
Elephant's Head
Left: Elephant's Head flowers; Right: Close-up of the distinctive elephant-trunk flower head.

NPS, Steve Redman

Elephant's Head
Pedicularis groenlandica

A species of lousewort; grows to 8-24 inches (20-60 cm) tall, with mostly basal leaves with slender toothed lobes. The flowers have a distinctive beak that curves down and out like the trunk of an elephant. Common in wet meadows.

 
Bird's Beak Lousewort
Bird's Beak Lousewort

NPS Photo

Lousewort, Bird's Beak
Pedicularis ornithorhyncha

This shorter flower grows to about 4-8 inches (10-20 cm) tall, with narrow, toothed, lobed leaves. The pink flowers are in dense clusters, and the top petal has a noticeable "beak-like" bent tube shape. Common in meadows and moist slopes throughout the park, between 6,000 and 7,000 feet (1,800-2,100 m).

 
Several plants with clusters of pale pink wildflowers.
Sickletop Lousewort

NPS Photo

Lousewort, Sickletop
Pedicularis ornithorhyncha

This lousewort stands out by having toothed, unidivided leaves, compared to the separated lobed leaves of other lousewort species. Flowers are pink to purple with a strongly curved upper lip and broad lower lip. Common in subalpine meadows between 3,000-6,000 feet (900 -1,800 m). Also known as Ram's Horn Lousewort.

 
Moss Campion
Moss Campion

NPS, Janet Killam

Moss Campion
Silene acaulis

Forming flat cushions, this alpine plant has small, pointed, dense basal leaves and pink, lilac, or pale purple flowers. More common on the east side of the park, it grows on moraines, talus slopes, and rocky ridges between 6,000 to 8,000 feet (1,800-2,400 m).

 
Left: A Magenta Paintbrush plant. Right: Close up of a Magenta Paintbrush flower.
Left: A Magenta Paintbrush plant. Right: Close up of a Magenta Paintbrush flower.

NPS, Chris Roundtree

Paintbrush, Magenta
Castilleja parviflora

Easily identifiable by it's bright pink "magenta" color, this paintbrush is one of many species of paintbrush found in the park. Plant grows to about 6-12 inches (15-30 cm) tall, and leaves have 1-2 slender lobes. Abundant in subalpine meadows, particularly in the Sunrise area.

 
Scarlet Paintbrush in front of a small ephemeral waterfall.
Scarlet Paintbrush

NPS Photo

Paintbrush, Scarlet
Castilleja miniata

Very common (also known as "common red paintbrush"), mostly found above 5,000 feet (1,524 m). This paintbrush stands 8-16 inches (20-40 cm) tall with lance-shaped leaves. The leaves are a good way to distinguish this paintbrush from other paintbrush species, which have lobed leaves.

 
A mat of tiny grey-green leaves with bright pink flowers on short stems.
Cliff Penstemon

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Penstemon, Cliff
Penstemon rupicola

Similar to Menzie's penstemon, this plant forms low, ground-covering mats. However, Menzie's penstemon flowers are blue-violet, while cliff penstemon has deep pink to red flowers. The grey-green leaves are oval-shaped, toothed, and finely-hairy. Common on rocky, talus slopes between 5,000-8,000 ft (1,500-2,500 m), though occasionally found at lower elevations.

 
A patch of Pink Monkeyflower (left); a close up of a Pink Monkeyflower (right).
A patch of Pink Monkeyflower (left) with a close-up view of a single flower (right).

NPS Photo

Pink Monkeyflower
Mimulus lewisii

Also known as Lewis's monkeyflower, this plant forms clumps of stems 12-24 inches (30-60 cm) tall, with oval, toothed leaves. It is found along streams, springs, and wet meadows throughout the park.

 
Pink Mountain Heather
Pink Mountain Heather

NPS Photo

Pink Mountain Heather
Phyllodoce empetriformis

Forms low, branched mats with stems 4-16 inches (10-40 cm) tall and covered with alternating, needle-like evergreen leaves. Common in subalpine meadows between 5,000-8,000 feet (1,500-2,400 m).

 
2014-8-28_RosySpirea_KLoving_web
Rosy Spirea

NPS Photo

Rosy Spirea
Spirea splendens

A shrub, 12-40 inches (30-100 cm) tall, with elliptical, toothed leaves and dense clusters of rose pink flowers. Commonly found in the park at the margins of lakes and in wet meadows.

 
Clusters of reddish flowers on the ends of tall stems above dark green roundish leaves.
Leatherleaf Saxifrage

NPS Photo

Saxifrage, Leatherleaf
Leptarrhena pyrolifolia

This saxifrage actually has white flowers like other saxifrage species, but the petals are overwhelmed by a red calyx (fused sepals that cover the flower). Flowers are clustered in a whorl at the end of a tall, reddish stem. Leaves are tough and evergreen, with rounded teeth on the margins. Common along streams or lakes in subalpine areas.

 
Spreading Phlox
Spreading Phlox

NPS Photo

Spreading Phlox
Phlox diffusa

As indicated by its name, this plants spreads widely along the ground, and is common along roadsides, rocky ridges, and talus slopes. Leaves are narrow and less than an inch long (1-1.5 cm). Flowers are tinged blue when initially opening, then transition to pink-white as the blossom ages.

 
A small flower with white, pink-veined flowers growing out of muddy ground
Western Spring Beauty

NPS Photo

Spring-Beauty, Western
Claytonia lanceolara var. lanceolata

Several flowering stems grow from a buried tuber, with one or two basal leaves. Stems can be from 2-8 inches (5-20 cm) tall, with two opposite leaves, and topped with a compact row of white flowers with pink veins. Common in subalpine meadows, often blooming early in the season before many other wildflowers.

 
Subalpine Daisy
Subalpine Daisy

NPS Photo

Subalpine Daisy
Erigeron peregrinus

Very common in subalpine meadows, with spoon-shaped basal leaves and unbranched stems 12-24 inches (30-60 cm) in height. It is easy to confuse this flower with the alpine aster (Oresostemma apligenum), but the aster has fewer petals and appears more purplish in color, while the daisy has many layered petals ringing the flower head.

Last updated: January 28, 2021

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