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Winter Blues? Think Wildflowers

It's been windy and cold all over the country for most of the recent two weeks, with more wind and cold temperatures in the forecast. So, fighting the winter blues seems like a good time

Photo of bright multi-colored wildflowers, including Indian paintbrush
Multiple wildflower species found near Rabbit Ears Pass, Colorado

to roll out some bright and pretty colors and shapes! Let's see what we might find in my wildflowers collection.

Close-up photo of Rosy pussytoes (Antennaria rosea), a wildflower in the Aster family
Rosy pussytoes (Antennaria rosea)

The largest families of wildflowers in the Rockies and adjacent plains may have many relatives in widely diverging shapes and colors, but also others that are so similar that identifying specific species is super difficult. One of these wonderfully diverse families is Asteraceae ( the Aster/Sunflower family) of which there are dozens of regularly seen species. Common names that range from mule's ears to pussytoes to blanketflower are represented as well. If you read my posts regularly, you've probably seen my photo of a pair of bright purple and yellow Glacial daisies with raindrops (https://www.denisedethlefsen.com/post/the-fascination-of-wildflowers). They're a pretty daisy-like flower found at high altitudes, such as around Vail, Colorado.

Photo of a Common sunflower (Helianthus annuus)
Common sunflower, or Mirasol

However, we usually think of the members of the aster family as being yellow, like the Common sunflower (Helianthus annuus) shown here. Another name for this plant is Mirasol, which means "looks at the sun," obviously a fitting name for a sunflower. And in yet another iteration of this enormous wildflower family, I have the Rocky Mountain zinnia, which, while also yellow, is about as different in shape and size from the sunflower, Glacial daisies or pussytoes as possible, even though they're all in the same plant family.

Photo of a clump of Rocky Mountain zinnia wildflowers
Rocky Mountain zinnia (Zinnia grandiflora)









The second family with an amazing number of shapes, sizes and colors I'd like to highlight is Rosaceae (the Rose family). It includes dozens of relatives -- roses, of course, but also raspberries and blackberries, almonds and apples, mountain mahogany, cinquefoils and avens, and so many more. (There's also something with the fun name of Buzzy Burr, but the plant is native to South America, so will have to wait its turn to be added to my portfolio!).

Photo of chokecherry fruits and leaves (Prunus virginiana)
Chokecherries (Prunus virginiana)

In our area, several of the fruit-bearing plants of the Rose family are quite common. Chokecherries, as seen here, can be found along roadsides, reservoirs, and gullies throughout the state. Others include wild blackberries, serviceberries, and wild strawberries.

Photo of a blossom and bud of a common wild rose in sunlight against a black background
Common wild rose (Rosa woodsii)

We can often find wild roses in both the mountains and plains, but they're sometimes difficult to photograph because of all the background clutter making up their favored habitats. I feel pretty happy about having captured this one shining in the sunlight against a shadowed cabin wall.


My third prolific wildflower family is Fabaceae (the Pea or Legume family). This family is enormous. For example, its largest sub-unit, the genera Astragalus, includes over 3,000 species by itself. Most of these are milkvetches native to the Northern Hemisphere. Colorado hosts dozens of milkvetch species, many of which are toxic - thus, the name 'locoweed' for some of them. Milkvetches, in particular, can be difficult to differentiate from each other. I have at least two species in my portfolio, but I've only positively identified the Early purple milkvetch shown in my previous post about wildflowers.

Photo of an Oregon golden lupine (Lupinus densiflorus) against disturbed soil
Oregon golden lupine (Lupinus densiflorus)

Lupines are another common wildflower from the Fabaceae family, with around 200 species in the world. While many lupines are various shades of purple and violet-pink, with or without white edging, I like this showy Oregon golden lupine, found near Klamath, California, many years ago. These are occasionally included in erosion control seeding, and can often be found on disturbed soils and road margins.

I suspect I could keep going on, but need to stop and save some images for future posts. However, here are a couple of parting shots.

Photo of a clump of phlox wildflowers and rotted wood
Slender-tubed phlox (Leptosiphon nuttallii)

This phlox species that forms clumps was virtually covering a large meadow near Rabbit Ears Pass. I just liked that this clump decided to grow by the dead log.


I presently can't get photos of another favorite wildflower, manzanita, because of where I'm based; they're not often found in Colorado. Northern California's common manzanita produces these tiny, pink or white, bell-shaped flowers. There are times I really miss seeing and photographing them.

Photo of the tiny, bell-like, pink flowers of a common manzanita (Arctostaphylos manzanita)
Common manzanita (Arctostaphylos manzanita)

I do hope this little interlude with some of my wildflower photos helped to dispel any winter

Photo of a bench with planters of wildflowers against a stuccoed wall, titled "Let's Chat"
"Let's Chat"

blues that might have been developing. As always, feel free to review other nature, travel and wildlife photography on my website, www.DeniseDethlefsen.com. To continue seeing my ramblings about nature, wildlife, photo art prints, and fine art photography ideas for your home or office, as well as our adventures with our teardrop camper, please "sign up to stay connected." #NaturePhotography, #naturephotographer, #photography, #nature, #travel, #colorado, #photoart, #buyart, #artforsale, #wallart, #metal, #canvas, #prints, #art, #interiordesign, #interiordecor, #interiorstyling, #wildlifephotography

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