What’s Blooming in Colorado | Colorado Wildflower Database

What’s Blooming in Colorado? This Colorado Wildflower Database should not be missed! Use this CO wildflower database to ID the wildflowers you find on your travels. 

Colorado’s wildflowers are the crowing jewels of our mountains. They drape the meadows and forest floors creating a stunning and dramatic landscape. It’s no secret that summer in the mountains is short, but that makes the wildflowers even more spectacular.

Whether hiking, walking or driving by, you’re bound to see wildflowers wherever you go. If you’re like me, you just have to know what each one is named. Here’s a few wildflowers you are likely to run into.

Elephant Head

Like the name suggests, this plant has tiny magenta flowers that look like an elephant head and trunk. This plant is most often found alongside rivers and in wet, marshy areas, in the second half of summer. 


Also known as Castilleja, Paintbrush is a generic name for a family of wildflowers that can range from white to red and everything in-between. There are over 100 species of paintbrush in Colorado. They are semi-parasitic, meaning that they can take resources from other plants, and are most likely to be found around other plants.

Silvery Lupine

This wildflower is a common sight. You’ll find large groups of Lupine along roadsides, or open meadows from the foothills to the subalpine regions. It is most recognizable by its small pea shaped flower, and white and blue patterning. 


This star shaped flower can be short or tall, and found in open meadows from the foothills to the montane regions. It has five distinct petals in a star shape, with a whitish center. The back of the flower has a tubular shape. 


What it lacks in height, this wildflower makes up for in vibrance. Look for it above treeline, in open sunny areas.

Heartleaf Arnica

Look for this vibrant ray flower in the shady forests. You can distinguish it from other flowers of the same color by the two heart-shaped leaves on opposite sides of the stem. 

Mariposa Lily

This wildflower blooms in mid to late season, in open and dry areas. If you are lucky, you may find it in pink or even light purple! 

Monument Plant (Green Gentian)

This plant demands notice, as it towers above all other foliage. It likes open meadows and will grow up to 7 feet in height! It is monocarpic, meaning  that it only flowers in the last season of its life.

Western Colombine

This wildflower is the cousin to the more well-known Colorado Blue Colombine. It can be found in shady forests, often underneath other shrubs and bushes. Look for fiery flashes of red and yellow in the underbrush. 

Fairy Slipper Orchid

The Fairy Slipper Orchid is known to be a bit elusive, so count yourself lucky if you find it! Look for small groups of this wildflower, in shady forests, under evergreen trees, among leaf debris. 

Best Practices for Wildflower Hunting

When wildflower hunting, it is important to respect the area by following a few basic rules. 

1. Stay on the Trail. We all want the perfect photo, but get it from the trail. Don’t cut the switchbacks, or hike outside the trail. 

2. Don’t pick the wildflowers. Many of these wildflowers are rare and endangered. Some common wildflowers even have poisonous sap. For your sake, and to respect the wildflowers, look but don’t touch or pick them.

3. Steer clear of wildlife. You’re on their turf. If you see wildlife, give them lots of room and keep pets close to you. Moose in particular are known to turn from docile to aggressive in a flash, when met with your canine companions. 

4. Leave No Trace. Pack out whatever you pack in, including compostable items. 

More Colorado Wildflowers
From forest to wetland to prairie, Colorado has hundreds of species of wildflowers. Do you have a wildflower that you’d like to ID? Check out our website, https://coloradowildflower.com or follow @coloradoswildflowers on Instagram. Colorado Wildflower is an online database of local Colorado wildflowers and is the passion project from my web design firm Tandem Design Lab

Colorado’s wildflowers should not be missed! Use this CO wildflower database to ID the wildflowers you find on your travels. 


by Kristy Lee Gogolen

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