(May 21 Update: Sadly, the city parks folks have chosen to mow the neat little meadow with the natives I’ve been seeing, and anything over about 8 inches tall is getting scalped or topped. The native puccoon described below can no longer be seen blooming, and the native vetch is still there but shortened a bit. This isn’t a playing field or traffic area, so it seems to be a “mow everything the mower can reach” policy. The dandelions are growing short enough to avoid the blade and their seeds are being spread nicely by the mowers. I’ll continue to post what’s blooming but I’ll keep a closer eye on areas that are not being mowed in addition to the areas I’ve already been watching.)
The wildflowers continue their season at Monument Valley Park (MVP). The sand lilies I saw last week have finished (see last week’s post), but the evening primrose and chokeberries are still going and have been joined by a few new flowers.
This week, the following plants were seen blooming in the north part of MVP. Park at the small lot where Fontanero ends at the park, and start walking north.
You can see wild onions (Allium textile) almost immediately. Look around the rock-lined drainage ditch right near the parking area, and you’ll see the white flowers of the onions on the north side above the rocks. They resemble the alliums that are blooming in people’s gardens right now.
Showy Tufted Evening Primrose
About 20 yards north of the parking lot on the right, you’ll see a small
clearing/meadow with several tufted evening primrose (Oenothera caespitosa) blooming. The evening primrose have four, heart-shaped white petals that rise above a basal rosette of leaves. If you are visiting in the sunny afternoon, these flowers may not be open.
Early Purple Vetch
In this same field this week, you’ll see hot pink early purple vetch (Astragalus shortianus). It’s shorter than some of the other vetches and locoweeds. You may think it’s pink Indian paintbrush from a distance.
Finally, in this very same field are some beautiful bright yellow narrow-leaf puccoons (Lithospermum incisum). This usually starts blooming a bit earlier, but it’s just now getting started at the park. Take a close look at the five petals, and you’ll see that they are all joined together at their bases.
Text and photos contributed by Carey Harrington, Colorado Master Gardener and Native-Plant-Master-in-Training