Know Your Nature: Wildflowers
Know Your Nature: Wildflowers
By Mary Brindley
Summertime at Powder Mountain is anything but offseason. As snow gives way to springtime green, our trails and meadows become a colorful canvas of purple, red, and yellow blooms that last through our warmest months.
Look out for some of these wildflowers as you hike and bike our trails and around the Wasatch Mountain Range. As always, be respectful of your natural surroundings. Watch where you walk, and don’t pick or uproot the flowers as this will only endanger them. Help us preserve their beauty for others to enjoy.
Little Sunflower - Helianthella Uniflora
Follow one of our tree-lined trails to a meadow filled with these sunburst-yellow flowers. This perennial has a sturdy stem with course, elliptical leaves growing up from the base. The flower consists of 13 to 15 petals radiating around a yellow center, and grows 1½ to 2½ inches across. You’ll generally find one flower per stem, though sometimes the stem branches off and yields several flower heads. The little sunflower grows in clumps, and stands anywhere from 10 to 48 inches high.
Indian paintbrush - Castilleja Miniata
This scarlet-red plant gets its name from its tall, erect stem and paintbrush-like tip. Its bold, bright color comes not from the flowers, which are long, green, inconspicuous tubes, but from the cone-shaped leaves, or bracts, that surround them. This wildflower grows in mountain meadows, and is often called the giant red Indian paintbrush because at 31 inches, it is a foot or more taller than other paintbrush varieties.
Nettle-Leaf Giant Hyssop - Agastache Urticifolia
Found in sloped clearings in the woods, where it can get a little shade over the course of the day, the nettle-leaf giant hyssop, also called horse mint, is a tall-stemmed plant with a pyramid of tiny pink and purple flowers clustered at the top. Its triangular, toothed leaves are spaced wide apart and grow opposite one another up the square stem. Each individual flower is tubular with long, protruding stamens that give the flower a soft, fuzzy look when viewed from a distance. This flower emits a divisive aroma that is perceived as delightfully sweet to some, and completely repulsive to others.
Tiny Trumpet - Collomia Linearis
The tiny trumpet, also called the narrowleaf collomia, is a mid- to high-elevation plant with small blossoms growing in clusters of up to 20 at the top of the stem. The stem is velvety and generally unbranched with long, narrow alternating leaves. Each flower has 5 rounded petals and 5 stamens, and can range in color from white to light pink.
Sticky Purple Geranium - Geranium Viscosissimum
Once used by Native American tribes as a cold remedy, food preservative, and even a love potion, the sticky purple geranium is the wild cousin of our domestic garden geranium and grows at elevations up to 11,500 feet. This round, bushy plant gets as high as 30 inches and has dark green leaves with toothy lobes that grow on long stalks from the base. The flowers, which range in color from light violet to magenta, have five petals with dark veins and are clustered at the top of the plant. This simple, unassuming flower is thought to be protocarnivorous, meaning it traps insects on its sticky stems and leaves, then digests and absorbs the protein for survival in nutrient-poor areas.
Wandering Fleabane Daisy - Rigeron Peregrinus
A relative of the common daisy, the wandering fleabane daisy can be found in open coniferous forests and mountain meadows at moderate to high elevations. Its height is quite varied, from just a few inches to more than 2 feet tall. Though they sometimes branch off, each stem tends to yield a single flower, which is defined by its contrasting bright yellow center surrounded by 30 to 80 thin lavender petals.
Scarlet Gilia - Pomopsis Aggregata
If you spot this bright red flower, a nectar-seeking hummingbird may not be far away. Look for this plant near mountain shrub in sunny spots, at elevations up to 10,800 feet. It typically grows 18 to 24 inches tall, but can get as high as 3 feet. Feather-like leaves grow at the base, and long tubular flowers, typically red or salmon colored, fan out at the top into 5 pointed petals. Long stamens tipped with bright yellow pollen emerge from the center.
Wasatch Beardtongue - Enstemon Cyananthus
Named for the mountain range in which we are nestled, the Wasatch Beardtongue is a sturdy stalk with trumpet-like flowers growing in ringed clusters around the stem. It gets as high as 1 to 2 feet, and has dark green, lance-shaped leaves growing primarily from the base. The flowers each have two lobes at the top and three at the bottom, and occur in rich shades from purple to royal blue.
Mary Brindley is a writer and traveler currently residing in San Francisco. She loves uncovering the forgotten histories of people and places, and spends her weekends perusing flea markets and exploring old buildings in search of her next story. When she’s not lost in the past, you can find her in coffee shops, co-working spaces, and at marybrindley.com.