Filed under: Activities & Attractions, Family Camping, Nature & Wildlife, Outdoor Recreation & Hiking
Wildflowers of the Southern Rockies
On a recent hike in the southern Rocky Mountains of New Mexico, we were taken with the spectacular wildflowers blooming along our trail. We observed more varieties than we could count, bloom on top of bloom, and photographed the most prevalent varieties. As we were hiking in northern New Mexico, we were encountering wildflowers that populate the southern Rocky Mountain region. I have attempted to put name to face, as it were, so I can share with you some of what we saw.
One of the most prevalent, at some of the lower elevations, was the Plains Prickly Pear Cactus. Spouting bright yellow blooms, this species blooms for only 24 hours then dies. Other buds then take their turn in succession. It is a sight to behold.
The Purple Harebell was another beautiful sight. Also called the “Bells of Scotland” it is a member of the bellflower family and generally inhabits subalpine meadows and slopes, which is where we encountered it, and can also be found in high elevation coniferous woods. The pale blue bell shaped flowers were nodding in the breeze as we hiked on by.
In a small corner of Harebell photo you can see a small white flower that we believe to be Richardson’s Geranium. These blooms generally inhabit moist wooded areas, aspen and coniferous woods, streamsides and moist meadows. The flowers may be white to lavender with reddish-purple veins.
We also encountered Purple Owl’s Clover, a pinkish clover atop an erect stalk approximately 18 inches high. These blooms generally inhabit hillsides, plains and openings in sagebrush, pinyon-juniper and Ponderosa Pine communities in Utah, Arizona and New Mexico.
There were a profusion of small yellow flowers that we observed on our hike. We have concluded these are either the Alpine Buttercup or the Sage Buttercup, but as we were hiking in an Alpine or subalpine meadow when we observed them, would assume they were the former. These lovely flowers tend to begin blooming as the snow melts at higher elevations and, indeed, this was the first hike this year in which the snow on this trail was gone. Their typical habitat is moist areas, coniferous woodland openings, subalpine to alpine meadows, and rocky talus slopes. Interestingly, we encountered it in the last three locations listed.
One of the loveliest wildflowers we encountered is not one I have located in any of my research. It appears to be nearly a succulent, similar to a sedum. It boasts a profusion of bright red flowers and was so spectacular, we were driven to photograph it multiple times. If any reader knows or can locate the name of this flower, I would really appreciate you letting me know. If you have information to share, please simply post a comment to this blog. I would greatly appreciate your input and I am sure other readers will as well. Happy hiking!
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