photo by Lisa Bird

Berlandiera lyrata

Appearance: This very aromatic plant has bright green, flat spreading leaves with shallowly lobed edges.  The flowers are daisy-like, with green center and light yellow petals.  The underside of the petals have maroon markings on them.

Habitat: This plant is very drought tolerant and blooms profusely throughout the season.  The flowers have a wonderful chocolate scent are are edible.  Chocolate Flower prefers full sun and needs very little water.  Found on the Western plains to northern Mexico, in dry rocky soils.  Hardy to Zone 4. (more…)

Sphaeralcea coccinea

Cowboy’s Delight

Sphaeralcea coccinea

Appearance: This small perennial appears to be a sweet little hollyhock. It grows to just over 12″ tall, and the silver-green, hairy leaves are each deeply lobed into three sections. Another variety found in cultivation, Sphaeralcea munruona is very similar, but with more gently lobed leaves. The wheel-shaped bright orange flowers are under an inch in diameter. Their bright appearance in often otherwise dull areas is what earned it its common name of cowboy’s delight. Blooming starts in June and continues through September.

Habitat: Cowboy’s delight thrives in sunny, open areas and can be found in both the plains and foothills. (more…)

Iris missouriensis

Appearance: Wild Iris is a bluish-purple native flower characteristic in appearance to cultivated irises.  It grows to about 2 feet in height and blooms from May to July.

Habitat: It is found in foothills to subalpine life zones, mostly in moist open areas, wet meadows, and stream sides at 4,500 to 9,500 feet elevation.  Growing in full sun, it drenches meadows in its vivid blue color, and is prevalent in areas that have been grazed heavily. (more…)

Dwarf Pussytoes (Antennaria parvifolia)

Photo by Lisa Bird

Appearance: Dwarf Pussytoes has pretty white flowers clustered like a cat’s toes on stalks growing to 6 inches in height.  The lance-shaped leaves grow in low mats, so the combination of the leaves and flowers on stalks makes it ideal for use as a groundcover.

Habitat: One of nine species found in the southern Rockies, it is commonly found in open mountain and foothills areas in sandy, well-drained soils. It has low moisture requirements and grows in sun to part shade. (more…)

Mariposa Lily

Calochortus gunnisonii

Appearance: Blooming from March to June, this is one of the most beautiful, simplistic wildflowers of Colorado.  A close relative to lilies, the cup-shaped flowers of Mariposa Lily have 3 translucent petals, usually white with a tinge of pink or blue.  Inside the cup of petals is a ring of bright yellow hair.  This native perennial grows up to 20” tall on a single slender stem.  Narrow, grass-like foliage usually withers at the base of the plant by bloom time. (more…)

American PlumPhoto by Lisa Bird (Prunus americana)

Appearance: American plum, a member of the Rose family, is one of the first native woody plants to bloom in the spring, with the white, fragrant, 5-petalled blossoms appearing before the leaves unfold.   There are numerous 1”-2” long, blunt thorns along the branches.  The leaves are long, pointed and oval-shaped.  American Plum bears edible 1” diameter fruit which ripen mid- to late summer, and fall color can be a muted reddish-orange. (more…)

Leucocrinum montanum_1439x959

Written by:  Peg Zimprich

Photo by: Lisa Bird


 Sand Lily

Leucocrinum montanum


Appearance: Sand Lily is a striking native plant with a cluster of white six-pointed star-shaped flowers tucked into the middle of a mass of grayish-green grass like leaves. This perennial plant is a member of the lily family and is also known as the common star lily. This surprisingly common plant only reaches a height of 8” and may be easily overlooked unless in bloom. This plant blooms in early spring, April at lower elevations and May at higher elevations. Sand Lilies have a unique seed dispersal habit. Each spring, new floral buds push the ripened seeds from the prior year up and out of the floral tube.


Habitat:  Found in sunny grassland areas ranging from the plains into the foothills at elevations between 3,500 and 8,000 feet. It requires full sun and will not tolerate shade. Native plants do not require amended soil and are drought tolerant once established.


Landscape Suitability: Sand Lily is a great perennial plant choice for cultivated beds. It needs full sun, making it a perfect choice for those hot, dry areas where few ornamental plants will grow. A grouping can lend early spring color and interest between early blooming bulbs and later blooming ornamentals. Look for this remarkable plant in local nurseries; remember never to “wild collect.”




Colorado Plant Database

USDA Plant Database 

Eastern Colorado Wildflowers

Written by: Carey Harrington     

Photo by: Lisa Bird                                                                               

Spreadfruit GoldenbannerHigh Drive - Sonderman - Rockrimmon 091_959x1439

Thermopsis divaricarpa


Appearance:  Spreadfruit goldenbanner is a yellow-flowering perennial that grows from 12-to-36″ tall. The leaves are hairy underneath, and the bright yellow flowers occur in clusters, resembling the flowers found on garden pea plants. This plant is often found growing in large groups. Blooming can start as early as March and continue through late summer.


Habitat: It is found in the plains and foothills, and can be seen in a wide variety of environments, from gravelly roadsides to stream bottoms and meadows. It grows in full sun.


Landscape suitability:  This plant is worth trying in dry or wet sandy soils in the garden. Its bright yellow color can be an attention grabber!  Be aware that it does spread from seed and can quickly form a large patch.


Sources:  Native Plant Master Manual, El Paso County; Colorado State University; 2008

               Guide to Colorado Wildflowers, Volume 1, Plains and Foothills; G.K.Guennel;

                               Westcliff Publishers; 2004

Pulsatilla patens 








Written by: Diana Picchietti                                                                                     

Photo by: Diana Picchietti

Pasque flower; Cutleaf anemone

Pulsatilla patens (L.) Miller ssp. multifida (Pritzel) Zamels

(SynonymsPulsatilla ludoviciana A. Heller; P. patens (L.)

Miller ssp. hirsutissima (Pursh.) Zamels)


Appearance:            The pasque flower is a native, perennial plant in the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae).  Cultivated versions of this plant are sold in nurseries, garden centers and catalogs.  Mature height is up to 15 inches.  Flowers are up to 2” inches across, consisting of tepals (petal-like sepals) that are arranged radially.  Flower color is lavender to purple.  It is one of the earliest spring flowering plants–March to August, depending on elevation and climate.  The flower appears before the leaves. Leaves are basal (low on the stem, close to the ground) and deeply cut or divided—hence, cutleaf anemone.


Habitat:            Plains to alpine ( to 11,500 feet elevation).  Pasque flower grows on hillsides, meadows, open fields, open woods, even under timberline trees.


Landscape suitability:            The pasque flower is a versatile plant for the home garden.  It can be utilized as an understory plant, open area, in semi-shade or full-sun.  It can be used in prairie gardens.  It will do well in moist or dry, well-drained soil.  Its water requirements are moderate, once established. 


Toxicity:  Domestic sheep have died from feeding on this plant.


Sources:           Native Plant Master Manual: El Paso County, Colorado State University, Colorado State University Extension, 2008

                        Guide to Colorado Wildflowers: Plains to Foothills, Vol. 1, Guennel, G. K. , Westcliff Publishers, 1995

                        Colorado Flora: Eastern Slope, Weber, William A. & Wittmann, Ronald G., University Press of Colorado, 2001, 3rd Edition

                        Rocky Mountain Flora, Weber William A., University Press of Colorado, 1976, 5th Edition



Written by :   Lisa   Bird                                                                      Allium textile 6-9-07_644x968                     

Photo by: Lisa Bird


Wild Onion

Allium textile


Appearance:  Wild Onion is a dainty native flower related to the giant garden alliums in the bulb catalogs.  This 12” high charmer has white bell-like flowers in a rounded cluster above a slender leafless stalk.  The gray-green, grass-like leaves usually form at the base, two to a flower stalk.  It is one of the earliest wild flowers to bloom, starting in April and blooming to June.


Habitat: Found in the plains and foothills at elevations between 3,500 and 8,000 ft.   Commonly seen along trails on dry slopes or hillsides, it grows in sun or in partial shade.


Landscape suitability:  Wild Onion is perfect for rock gardens.  Its airy flowers give a lacey appearance to the front of a border or when grouped in a naturalized area.  Drought tolerant, once established, it grows well in most soils with good drainage, but will tolerate some clay.


Sources:  Native Plant Master Manual, El Paso County; Colorado State University; 2008

               Guide to Colorado Wildflowers, Volume 1, Plains and Foothills; G.K.Guennel;

                               Westcliff Publishers; 2004

               Plants for Natural Gardens; Judith Phillips; Museum of New Mexico Press,

                              Santa Fe; 1995