Pink, Purple, and Blue Wildflower Guide

Pale blue trumpets has trumpet-shaped flowers

Pale blue trumpets (Ipomopsis longiflora) have a descriptive name as the flowers are trumpet shaped, but they can be blue to purple. The leaves and stems are very slender making the many flowers appear to hover over the ground.

Freckled Milkvetch (Astragalus lentiginosus) wildflower with pea-llike flowers in a raceme and many compound leaves

Freckled Milkvetch (Astragalus lentiginosus) is one of the most variable plants in the western United States; this is one of the nearly forty varieties. This low, rounded vetch has compound leaves with oval leaflets, plump glabrous pods with a “beak” at one end, some small red freckling, and purple tubular flowers in pea-like racemes. Not much in the way of hairs or fuzz on the plant.

Biscuitroot aka purple spring parsley (Vesper bulbosus, syn. Cymopterus bulbosus): frilly purple flowers at the center of incised pale green leaves.

As usual, biscuitroot aka purple spring parsley (Vesper bulbosus, syn. Cymopterus bulbosus) is the first flower to bloom. This low-grower likes gravely area so you are likely to see them around the petrified logs. What’s better than fossil trees and fresh flowers? Biscuitroot is a member of Apiaceae (Parsley Family). It has a staunch pithy taproot to help it survive this semi-arid region and pale green lacy leaves, providing food above and below the ground for many species. Don’t try to nibble something in the park if you aren’t an expert.

Deep pink cactus flower closeup of Pink-Flower Hedgehog Cactus (Echinocereus fendleri)

This Pink-Flower Hedgehog Cactus (Echinocereus fendleri) has had a rough year. The mature stems are turning maroon and slumping. A new stem is forming under the blossoms. The silky magenta petals are dusted with abundant pollen. The loose clumps can have up to twenty stems, while this one had five, two of which have died and fallen off the cliff. Each areole has 4-12 mostly straight spines, some of the central ones tending to be darker with lighter radial ones.

Silver-leafed Nightshade (Solanum elaeagnifolium) has purple starfish-shaped flowers.

Silver-leafed Nightshade (Solanum elaeagnifolium) is a common perennial in the park, showy with its normally purple starfish-shaped flower and long, wavy edged silver leaves with some spines underneath. They often grow in large groups. Eventually the flower turns into a golden round fruit. They have the typical large yellow stamen. While most are purple, there are white, the forma albiflorum.

Branches surround the pink flower of walkingstick cholla.

Walking Stick Cholla (Cylindropuntia spinosior) is the tallest of the branched chollas in the park. It easily spreads through pups, although the branches are firmly attached. The flowers are magenta with yellow centers, becoming yellow fruit that linger. It is a good food for animals in the winter.

Bluebowls (Giliastrum acerosum) has a cobalt blue to purple flower

Bluebowls (Giliastrum acerosum) are very small plants; sometimes the cobalt blue to purple flower is larger than the rest of the perennial. The base tends to be woody with small glandular leaves with needle-like lobes. The richly colored flowers have yellow throats. They tend to be in sandy and gravelly areas.

Pale lavender flowers among wiry pale green stems
Brownplume Wirelettuce (Stephanomeria pauciflora) is a small perennial with many blue-green branches, few leaves, and lavender flowers with toothed corollas. The fluffy pappi are tannish.
Narrowleaf Four O’Clock (Mirabilis linearis var. linearis) is a legume with long stems and pinkish flowers.

Narrowleaf Four O’Clock (Mirabilis linearis var. linearis) is a legume, belonging to the Fabaceae family. The tiny flowers are in a rounded terminal cluster of white. The fountain-shaped plant often disappears into the bunch grass with its long stems and tiny compound leaves.

More to come!

Last updated: July 19, 2018

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