top of page

The Fascination of Wildflowers

I recently realized I'm developing a decent portfolio of wildflowers and that I need to start organizing, categorizing and posting for stock sales more often than I've been doing. Here are just a few we've managed to find - the ones I got nice photos of, anyway.

Photo of two purple glacier daises with yellow centers and raindrops
Glacial daisies (Erigeron glacialis) also known as Subalpine fleabane

I had planned to spend a little time sharing what I've found out about various wildflowers I've posted, but that got too complicated - after all, they have unique features, traits, habitats and habits, toxicity or edibility, and beauty. So, I decided to just post the photos for your enjoyment. With minimal descriptions.

Photo of Elephant's head flower (Pedicularis groenlandica) with a bumblebee
Elephant's head (Pedicularis groenlandica)
Photo of California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) in the moment before the petals unfurled in morning sunlight
California poppies (Eschscholzia californica)

The two flowers above like very opposite habitats. Poppies thrive in dry, even disturbed soils such as roadsides, and on sunny hills all over California, Arizona, Nevada and into northern Mexico, as well as parts of Oregon and Washington. I caught the flowers above in the (literally!) seconds before they unfurled after the sun hit them. In contrast, Elephant's head, a type of parasitical plant, loves to have its feet wet. They thrive in boggy and marshy swales in northern latitudes. Originally located in Greenland by a Swedish botanist and described in 1795, they were lost to science until the 1940's when not only was the original location found again, but it was understood that the plants discovered in Canada, Alaska and other parts of the northern US during the 1800's and early 1900's were the same species.

Photo of Redpod stonecrop (Rhodiola rhodantha), also known as queen's crown
Redpod stonecrop (Rhodiola rhodantha) or queen's crown

Another plant that likes damp soil is the Redpod stonecrop. It's a succulent sedum, and is edible (the leaves can be steamed like spinach or chopped into a salad). Many sedum species, unlike this one, prefer dry, rocky slopes, thus the name, stonecrop.

Photo of a single blossom of Richardson's geranium (Geranium richardsonii) against a green background
Richardson's geranium (Geranium richardsonii)
Photo of an early purple milkvetch (Astragalus shortianus) going to seed
Early purple milkvetch (Astragalus shortianus)

Here, we jump from medicinal to toxic. Wild geraniums were often used to staunch bleeding, soothe insect bites, and stop diarrhea, among other benefits. However, many milkvetches (some are also called locoweed) are toxic, and it can be really hard to tell the useful from the toxic. Early purple milkvetch is very low-growing and is typically found at altitudes above 6500 feet in areas along the Front Range of Colorado. This nearly-gone-to-seed specimen was found at around 9000 feet, near Pikes Peak.

Photo of a claret cup cactus (Echinocereus triglochidiatus) blossom
Claret cup cactus

I sometimes feel like the lowly cactus was designed to put on such showy blooms to make up for being grumbled about for their spines and glochids (the almost-invisible hairlike prickles). My favorite, for its bright red color, is the claret cup cactus (Echinocereus triglochidiatus). However, I had a hard time catching these in bloom because it took me several years to figure out where they grow near us, and I always seemed to miss the bloom. Finally caught some last spring.

Photo of a Plains prickly pear cactus (Opuntia polyacantha) blossom
Plains prickly pear cactus (Opuntia polyacantha)

Of course, the plains prickly pear is commonly found throughout the Great Plains states and up to parts of Michigan. This cactus can be used as cattle forage when the spines are burned off; the fruits, called tunas, and the pads, called nopales, are both edible. I like the pretty pink color and light flavor the fruit adds to various drinks, and pickled nopales taste good, too.

Finally, for this post, is prairie smoke - a small, unobtrusive plant when it's blooming, but much more showy once it seeds. Prairie smoke blooms early, and once they are fertilized, the tiny,

Photo of Prairie smoke (Geum triflorum) in blossom stage
Prairie smoke (Geum triflorum)
Photo of a single Prairie smoke (Geum triflorum) seedhead showing the pink filaments
Prairie smoke seedhead

rosy blossoms open out to show the silvery-pink filaments of the fruit. By this time, the stems can be 12 to 18 inches long, and the characteristic "smoke" is easy to see when there are many plants close together. The seedhead above is fading and drying so that the individual filaments can be released to seed new plants.

I hope you enjoyed this exploration into a corner of the world of wildflowers; it fascinated me, too! I'll be putting together another post similar to this during the winter months to provide a glimpse of spring since I found so many photos of flowers to share. Please check out other travel, nature and wildlife photography at my website, To continue seeing my ramblings about nature, wildlife, photo art prints and ideas for your home or office, and our adventures with our teardrop camper, please "sign up to stay connected." #wildlifephotography, #NaturePhotography, #naturephotographer, #photography, #nature, #travel, #colorado, #photoart, #buyart, #artforsale, #wallart, #metal, #canvas, #prints, #art, #interiordesign, #interiordecor, #interiorstyling

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page