Wildflowers of the Rocky Mountains

The distribution of vegetation in the Rocky Mountains correlates directly to elevational changes, which influence the temperature and availability of moisture. Different plant communities characterize each zone (such as foothill, montane, subalpine, and alpine) from the base of a mountain to the top, and each zone may contain several types of plant communities. More than 5,000 plant species occur in the Rocky Mountains. The wildflowers begin to bloom in early spring, as soon as the snow starts to melt. The peak bloom season is mid-summer. This collection highlights some of the most common wildflowers found in the Rocky Mountains.


Scientific Name Common Name Duration Habit Sun Water
Aquilegia coerulea Colorado blue columbine, Rocky Mountain columbine Perennial Herb Shade Moist
Arnica cordifolia Heart-leaf leopardbane, Heartleaf arnica Perennial Herb Part-shade Moist
Balsamorhiza sagittata Arrowleaf balsamroot, Arrow-leaf balsamroot Perennial Herb Sun Moist
Calochortus nuttallii Sego lily, Mariposa lily, Sego-lily Perennial Herb Sun Dry
Caltha leptosepala Elkslip, White marsh marigold, White marsh-marigold Perennial Herb Part-shade Wet
Campanula rotundifolia Bluebell bellflower, Bluebell-of-Scotland, Harebell, Witches' thimble Perennial Herb Sun, Shade, Part-shade Dry
Cardamine cordifolia Heartleaf bittercress Perennial Herb Shade
Castilleja rhexiifolia Splitleaf Indian paintbrush, Rosy indian-paintbrush Perennial Herb Part-shade Dry
Chamerion angustifolium Fireweed, Willow herb, Great willow herb Perennial Herb
Dasiphora fruticosa ssp. floribunda Shrubby cinquefoil, Golden hardhack, Potentilla Perennial Shrub Sun Dry
Delphinium barbeyi Subalpine larkspur Perennial Herb Shade
Dodecatheon pulchellum Darkthroat shooting star, Few-flower shooting star, Western shooting star Perennial Herb Part-shade Moist
Erysimum capitatum Prairie rocket, Sand-dune wallflower, Sanddune wallflower, Western wallflower Biennial Herb Sun Dry
Gaillardia aristata Common gaillardia, Great blanketflower, Blanketflower, Brown-eyed susan Perennial Herb Sun Dry
Gentiana calycosa Rainier pleated gentian Perennial Herb Part-shade Moist
Ipomopsis aggregata Scarlet gilia, Scarlet standing-cypress, Skyrocket, Skunkflower Biennial Herb Part-shade Dry
Lewisia rediviva Bitter root, Oregon bitter-root Perennial Herb Part-shade
Linum lewisii Wild blue flax, Prairie flax, Lewis flax Perennial Subshrub Sun Dry
Lupinus sericeus Silky lupine Perennial Herb Sun, Shade, Part-shade Moist, Dry
Mertensia ciliata Mountain bluebells, Tall fringe bluebells, Tall fringed bluebells Perennial Herb Part-shade Wet
Mimulus lewisii Purple monkeyflower, Great purple monkey-flower, Lewis monkey-flower Perennial Herb Part-shade Wet
Monarda fistulosa Wild bergamot, Beebalm Perennial Herb Sun, Part-shade Moist, Dry
Orthocarpus luteus Yellow owl's-clover Annual Herb Sun
Pedicularis groenlandica Elephanthead lousewort Perennial Herb Sun Moist
Penstemon angustifolius Broadbeard penstemon, Broadbeard beardtongue, Whorled penstemon, Whorled beardtongue Perennial Herb Sun
Phacelia sericea Purplefringe, Silky phacelia Biennial Herb Part-shade
Phlox pulvinata Cushion phlox Perennial Herb
Phyllodoce empetriformis Pink mountain heath, Pink mountain heather Perennial Shrub Part-shade Moist
Primula parryi Parry's primrose Perennial Herb
Pulsatilla patens Eastern pasqueflower, American Pasqueflower Perennial Herb Sun Dry
Ranunculus eschscholtzii Eschscholtz's buttercup, Subalpine Buttercup Perennial Herb Sun
Scabrethia scabra ssp. scabra Badlands mule-ears Perennial Subshrub
Sedum lanceolatum Lanceleaf Stonecrop, Spearleaf stonecrop Perennial Herb Sun
Symphyotrichum spathulatum var. spathulatum Western mountain aster Perennial Herb
Tetraneuris grandiflora Alpine sunflower, Graylocks four-nerve daisy, Old-man-of-the-mountain, Rydbergia Perennial Herb Sun Moist