For a wrap-up of other areas and what’s been blooming, check out:
Blooming in Monument Valley Park – All Posts.
I am pleased and surprised to be able to share four new blooming plants this week!
Start at the parking lot where Fontanero Street ends at the park, and start heading west down the hill.
About halfway down the hill, on the north side of the road/path under a white fir, look for some pale yellow flowers that dangle down from their stems. This is the native tasselflower (Brickellia grandiflora). Although it is usually more often found on rocky slopes, canyon sides, or cliffs, I saw this in three different areas of the park. Sometimes the flowers can be a bit more greenish. It can be easy to overlook, so really keep your eyes open for this one.
Broom Senecio or Broom Groundsel
Continue west until you reach the dumpster, and turn right and head north. After a couple of hundred yards (about 20-30 yards BEFORE the 1/4 mile marker), keep your eyes on the east side of the trail for a small clump of bright yellow flowers with long, thin, drooping petals around golden centers. The leaves are very thin, almost grass-like. This is known as broom senecio (Senecio spartioides), and it is a native as well. I was surprised to see this as I thought that at this point, the only yellow flowers in the park were the threadleaf yellowrays and golden asters.
Continue north about 30-40 yards past the 1/4 mile marker, and on your right (east side), you’ll notice clusters of white flowers on plants about 2-feet tall. This native is called the many-flowered aster (Virgulus ericoides) and is one of the late bloomers in the park. It can bloom all the way into October, so I’m curious to watch and see if more become visible in the next few weeks.
This last plant was a real surprise to me! It’s a little tricky to find, but I’ll do my best to get you there. Turn around and head south back down the path. When you get to the smaller path that breaks off to the left/east, take that and continue south. Watch the vegetation along the east side of the path. After 20 or 30 yards, if you’re lucky, you’ll see the tiny purple flowers of the matrimony vine (Lycium barbarum). This is not a native and likely was either planted in the park or it escaped from someone’s garden. Although the common name says it is a vine, the plant doesn’t really have a vining habit, instead growing on long woody stems that arch over. The purple petals bend back and the stamens stick far out from the rest of the flower. My research told me that this is also called wolfberry or (big surprise coming) goji berry! I will revisit this plant this fall to see the nifty drop-like red berries.
Continue south to the hill and head back up to the parking lot.
Text and photos provided by Carey Harrington, Colorado Native Plant Master.