Darn Yellow Composites

Summertime seems to be top bloom time for a huge assortment of yellow Composites. Identifying an unknown yellow daisy-like flower is one of the vexing challenges faced by amateur and professional botanists alike. It may come as a relief to perplexed wildflower fans to know that professional botanists know this particular group of plants as the DYCs (Darn Yellow Composites) because there are so many and because they can be easily confused! It is particularly challenging in Rocky Mountain National Park because almost 20% of all the species of vascular plants in the park belong to this one family.

There are some excellent illustrated plant keys available for the intrepid plant fans who want to try to identify the DYCs in Rocky Mountain National Park. Your local library or the Rocky Mountain Nature Association can help you in locating appropriate keys. Frequently, a combination of knowing where the plant is growing, recognizing when it is flowering, and close inspection of the flower itself beside pictures of possible species can help in its identification without an extensive knowledge of botany.

While you can frequently identify several yellow composites in this way, many will still elude easy identification. In any case, close examination of a yellow composite will help you to learn more about these lovely plants even if you finally have to identify it as one of the DYCs!

Last updated: March 31, 2012

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1000 US Hwy 36
Estes Park, CO 80517


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Through winter, the Information Office is open 8:00 am–4:30 pm Mon–Fri. Recorded Trail Ridge Road status: (970) 586-1222.

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