In Colorado, wildflowers typically start emerging in spring, but that isn’t the only time you can see a stunning array of colors and blooms. In fact, you can find wildflowers in Colorado throughout most of the year. This state is bursting at the seams with wildflowers, and, according to 5280 Denver’s Mile High Magazine, there are over 3,000 species of wildflowers found in Colorado.
14 Wildflowers in Colorado
Below you will find 14 wildflowers in Colorado that you are most likely to run into. Keep in mind that the exact location and time when these plants occur will vary depending on the species.
1. Colorado Blue Columbine
Scientific Name: Aquilegia caerulea
The Colorado Blue Colombine is Colorado’s state flower, producing an unusual bloom that has 5 round petals that are white in color and 5 blue petals on the outside that are shaped like triangles. This plant is native to the state and is often found in wooded or shaded areas. Its unique and beautiful appearance makes it a favorite for ornamental gardeners.
2. Rocky Mountain Bee Plant
Scientific Name: Cleome serrulata
The Rocky Mountain Bee Plant produces tall stalks that are topped with bushy clusters of pink flowers. These blooms attract a wide array of pollinators, including bees. This plant is also known as “stinking clover” and “skunk weed”, and is found along roadsides and in open areas with plenty of sun.
3. White Marsh Marigold
Scientific Name: Caltha leptosepala
The White Marsh Marigold is an early spring wildflower that appears soon after the snow has melted. In fact, this wildflower is often considered a harbinger of spring. They typically appear along riverbanks, marshy areas, and other wet locations.
The White Marsh Marigold produces white blooms and glossy, broad leaves.
4. Elephant Head Lousewort
Scientific Name: Pedicularis Groenlandica
Also known as the Little Pink Elephant, this plant produces magenta to pink-colored unusually shaped blooms and fern-like foliage. This plant gets its name from its blossoms, which, at a certain angle, look like an elephant’s head with a protruding trunk. The Elephant Head Lousewort is found in wet areas, such as near streams and marshes.
5. Badlands Mule-Ears
Scientific Name: Scabrethia scabra
The Badlands Mule-Ears is a wildflower with a shrub form that produces bright yellow blooms. The stems and leaves are scaly and rough, and the entire plant can reach heights of 2 feet or more. These plants grow in semi-desert areas with sandy soils.
6. Subalpine Larkspur
Scientific Name: Delphinium barbeyi
The Subalpine Larkspur is found in Colorado at elevations between 8,200 to 13,400 feet. This plant produces dozens of dark purple flowers on a single stalk. These stalks can reach 4 to 6 feet tall and are most often spotted growing in wet areas, such as moist woodlands, forests, meadows, and near streams.
7. Eastern Pasqueflower
Scientific Name: Pulsatilla patens
The Eastern Pasqueflower is a member of the buttercup family that produces pale purple flowers in early spring. In most cases, this plant will start blooming in wet areas around Passover. They are found in the subalpine and foothill regions of Colorado.
8. Pygmy Bitterroot
Scientific Name: Lewisia pygmaea
The Pygmy Bitterroot has delicate pink or white blooms with long white-colored filaments, and long, thin leaves. This wildflower is also known as Alpine Lewisia and is found in meadows and open areas in the Alpine, Subalpine, and Montane range.
9. Arrowleaf Balsamroot
Scientific Name: Balsamorhiza sagittata
The Arrowleaf Balsamroot has wide leaves that are no more than a foot long and shaped like an arrowhead. In the spring, this plant produces bright yellow blooms that look similar to a daisy.
These flowers appear on long stalks and when the bloom is spent, the leaves and stalks will dry up. The Arrowlead Balsamroot is also known as the Oregon Sunflower and is found in wooded and open areas.
10. Red Dome Blanketflower
Scientific Name: Gaillardia pinnatifida
The Red Dome Blanketflower has a daisy-like bloom that is yellow in color and has a reddish dome-shaped disk in the center. It thrives in open forests and plains with well-draining soil. In most cases, this wildflower will start blooming in May and keep blooming throughout July.
11. Lewis’ Blue Flax
Scientific Name: Linum lewisii
The Lewis’ Blue Flax is known by various names, including Prairie Flax and Wild Blue Flax. It is a rather common wildflower in the western portion of the United States. It produces small, bright blue, 5 petal flowers at the top of a thin stem.
This is a spring-blooming wildflower most commonly found along roadsides and in dry areas.
Scientific Name: Chamaenerion angustifolium
The Fireweed is named for its ability to grow quickly in areas ravaged by wildfires. The entire plant can grow up to 6 feet tall, producing bright purple to pink flowers on a tall stalk. This vibrant wildflower can also survive at subalpine elevations.
13. Shooting Stars
Scientific Name: Dodecatheon pulchellum
The Shooting Star wildflower is an unusual-looking plant with inverted blooms. The magenta to pink colored petals points upward towards the sky, while the bottom of the flower points downwards and looks as if it was dipped in yellow and white paint. These blooms appear on reddish stalks and can appear from April to August, depending on the elevation.
14. Wild Bergamot
Scientific Name: Monarda fistulosa
The Wild Bergamot, also known as bee balm, is an important wildflower that produces lavender to deep purple blooms that attract a wide array of pollinators, including bees and butterflies. The spiky, pompom blooms appear at the top of tall stalks. Wild Bergamot thrives in various habitats, including dry areas, open woods, ditches, and wet meadows.
Best Places to see Wildflowers in Colorado
If you’re looking for wildflowers in Colorado, your first option should be to simply take a drive. A lot of the native wildflowers found in this state naturally pop up along roadsides. When you’re ready to broaden your search, consider visiting one of the 42 state parks Colorado has to offer.
Another option is to hike one of the many trails that are known to be wildflower hotspots. This includes the East Inlet Trail, which is located in the Rocky Mountain National Park, and the Shrine Mountain Trail. If you’re in the Crested Butte area during the month of July, consider stopping at the Crested Butte Wild Flower Festival, which is a 10-day-long event that offers a wide array of wildflower-related activities, such as workshops hosted by wildflower experts.