The aspen daisy (Erigeron speciosus) is fairly common in the Retreat, especially in sunny spots, and in open areas within aspen groves and conifer forests. Flowers are about an inch across. The plants grow low but can reach up to three feet high, and often have multiple flowers per plant.
We have two species of chiming bells in the Retreat. Tall chiming bells (Mertensia ciliata) grow in damp places along the edge of Miller Fork, and can reach 4 feet tall. The bell-shaped flowers are blue, sometimes tinged with pink, hang down in small clusters, and are about 0.4 inches long or longer. Lanceleaf chiming bells (Mertensia lanceolata) have similar flowers, but the plant is shorter (to 1 foot tall) and is found in more dry areas on slopes, in meadows and in open forests.
The Colorado Columbine (Aquilegia coerulea) is our official state flower. Flowers are 1-3 inches across and distinctive with a conspicuous purplish “spur”extending behind the flower head. Plants are up to 2 feet tall. In our area the Colorado columbine can be found in open places within forests, aspen groves, and on hillsides, sometimes scattered in small patches.
Fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium) is a bright, conspicuous plant. Flowers are up to 1 inch across, with 4 petals, and form spikes at the top of the plant, which grows from 1-7 feet tall. Fireweed can be found in patches. It favors damp ground and disturbed areas, and will often grow after the disturbance caused by forest fires.
The Fremont geranium is considered by some authorities to be a Colorado variety of the pineywoods geranium (Geranium caespitosum). Flowers are about 1 to 1.5 inch across with pink to lavender petals with deeper red veins radiating from the center. The plant grows up to 30 inches tall and is found in open forests and dry meadows.
The dotted gayfeather (Liatris punctata), sometimes called the Kansas gayfeather or dotted blazingstar, blooms the second half of summer. The flowers occur in dense spikes along the unbranched stem, which grows 8 to 30 inches tall. It favors dry sandy areas, sunny locations, and roadsides.
Horsemint (Monarda fistulosa), also known as beebalm or wild bergamont, grows 1 to 3 feet tall and seems to peak in the second half of summer. It has square stems. Multiple flowers with 2 petals each form a clustered head about 1 to 3 inches across at the top of the plant. Often grows in dense patches in sunny but somewhat moist places, as pictured in the meadow along Miller Fork just upstream from Miller Fork Road.
Monkshood (Aconitum columbianum) grows in wet areas along Miller Fork, and can reach several feet tall. The dark blue to purple hood hides the small true petals. The plant is poisonous if ingested.
Northern bedstraw (Galium boreale) has very small white flowers about 1/8 inch across, each with four petals. Stems are four-sided. The plant is found over a wide rangle of elevations in open areas, and can range from a few inches high to about two feet tall.
Catchfly (Silene latifolia) also goes by several other common names, including bladder campion, white campion, cockle, and maiden’s tears. The white flowers have five, deeply notched pedals. The plant grows to about 2.5 feet tall and is often found in open, dry areas and places with disturbed soils along roadsides and trails.
Daisy (Erigeron sp.). There are several species of white daisies found in our area, including E. flagellaris (whiplash or trailing daisy), and E. divergens (spreading daisy). Daisies are in the sunflower family and most daisy species have white or purplish flowers. Daisies can be confused with asters, also in the sunflower family and with white or purplish flowers.
Mariposa lily (Calochortus gunnisonii) has long narrow leaves and a large, conspicuous white flower about two inches across with a purplish ring at the center. It grows up to 1.5 feet tall (often shorter), blooms in late spring to mid-summer, and is found in meadows and on open slopes.
Miner’s candle (Cryptantha virgata) is an erect plant that grows up to about 2 feet tall. It has small white flowers that grow close to the stems, and leaves with short, scratchy hairs. It is usually found in dry open areas and hill slopes.
Porter aster (Symphyotrichum porteri), also called smooth white aster, is a branching plant growing to 1.5 feet tall with as many as 10 flowers per stem. Flower heads are small, usually about ¾ of an inch across. It blooms in mid-summer to autumn and grows on open slopes and meadows. Asters can be confused with daisies, also in the sunflower family with white or purplish flowers.
Richardson’s geranium (Geranium richardsonii) or white geranium grows to as high as 3 feet on slender stems. Flowers are about 1 inch wide, and petals sometimes show pink veins. Leaves are deeply cleft with pointy tips. It grows in moist shady areas, and can be found along Miller Fork streambanks. The plant is named after the Scottish Naturalist Sir John Richardson, who discovered the species during explorations of northern North America during the first half of the 1800s.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) has clusters of tiny white flowers (about 1/8 inch wide) at the top of the stems. Leaves are feathery, fern-like, and narrow. Yarrow can produce flowers throughout the summer, and grows from about 1 to 3 feet tall in dry areas along trails, in clearings, and on hilsides.
Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) grows in open meadows and on hillsides. Plants can be as tall as about 30 inches, with flowers about three inches across.
Blanketflower (Gaillardia aristata) can be found in sunny open areas such as hillsides and clearings. Plants are about 28 inches tall, and flowers are about three and a half inches across.
There are several species of cinquefoil in our area, ranging in size from small herbaceous plants to shrubs. The species shown is probably leafy cinquefoil (Potentilla fissa), which grows to about a foot tall with flowers about one inch across, and is found in clearings and along roads and trails.
The common evening primrose (Oenothera villosa) has flowers that open in late afternoon and evening hours and tends to grow in areas with disturbed soil, such as roadsides. Plants can be one to three feet tall, with flowers about one inch across.
There are several species of golden aster that are found in our region. The plants pictured are probably all forms of the hairy golden aster (Heterotheca villosa), found on dry, sunny areas and hillsides. Plants and flowers are variable in size.
The goldenglow (Rudbeckia ampla) grows along Miller Fork in damp areas. Plants can be 2-6 feet tall, with flowers to five inches wide. It typically blooms from July to late September, and is visited by robber flies that are bee-like in appearance.
The plant pictured is probably smooth goldenrod (Solidago missouriensis). Plants grow to one to two feet tall on rocky slopes, along roadsides, and in open areas along Miller Fork. Flowers are very small and in clusters.
The many-flowered puccoon (Lithospermum multiflorum) can be found in open sunny areas in ponderosa pine forest, growing to about 20 inches tall. The small, tubular flowers are about one-half to one inch long.
The sulphur flower (Eriogonum umbellatum) grows in dry areas, rocky hillsides, and roadcuts. Plants grow to 16 inches tall, with small (1/4 inch long) flowers in clusters in umbels (umbrella-like supports) at the tops.