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11 Species of Wildflowers in Nevada (Photos)

If you’re a lover of nature, one of the things you might immediately notice when you visit a state is how colorful the surroundings are made by nature. And in the midst of Nevada’s arid landscape, beautiful mountains, and secret valleys, a hidden garden comes to life, painted with vibrant hues and delicate flowers. Wildflowers in Nevada will undoubtedly captivate the senses and inspire a sense of wonder, from the brilliant petals of silvery lupine to the red splendor of cardinal flowers. 

This article will help you recognize and learn more about some of the state’s wildflowers. 

11 Wildflowers in Nevada

The state flower of Nevada is the Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata), a plant that is native to the arid regions of western North America. The Sagebrush is a fragrant and hardy plant that is well-adapted to the harsh conditions of the Nevada desert.

It is a symbol of resilience and endurance, and it has been an important part of the culture and history of the region for centuries. The Sagebrush has small yellow flowers that bloom in the late summer and early fall, and it is an important source of food and shelter for a variety of wildlife species. The Sagebrush was designated as the official state flower of Nevada in 1959.

1. Silvery lupine

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  • Scientific Name: Lupinus argenteus
  • Zone: 4 – 10
  • Where to see: Statewide
  • Season: Late Summer

Silvery Lupine is a perennial forb with erect stems, gray-green palmately-compound leaves, and spike-like clusters of blue to violet flowers. It blooms from June to August and attracts bees and butterflies while thriving in different habitats.

Growing up to 4 feet tall, it’s native to North America and adaptable to different environments. While valuable for wildlife and wildflower mixes, caution is needed as its seeds and pods contain toxic alkaloids harmful to livestock. 

2. Western columbine

Red columbine
Red columbine | image by Joshua Mayer via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Aquilegia formosa
  • Zone: 3 – 9 
  • Where to see: Statewide
  • Season: Spring 

The western columbine, also called crimson columbine, has red sepals and spurs and yellow petal blades, which makes a beautiful color combination. It grows well in damp places in forests, woodlands, and alpine meadows in several US states, including Nevada. The flowers have five sepals and petals, and they’re often brightly colored and nodding in shape, making them distinctive. 

Native Americans used the plant for different reasons, such as easing stomach aches and treating coughs and colds. But, it’s important to be careful because the mature seeds and roots may have toxins. 

3. Indian paintbrush

Indian paintbrush flower
Indian paintbrush flower | image by Joshua Mayer via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific Name:  Castilleja coccinea
  • Zone: 4 – 8
  • Where to see: Statewide 
  • Season: Spring to Summer

A lovely parasitic plant called an Indian paintbrush is called a “painted cup” because of its bracts’ cup-like shape. The red parts around the flowers are actually leaves that have modified, not petals. Sometimes, these leaves can be yellow instead of red. 

These hemiparasitic plants depend on pollinators to reproduce as well as grasses to provide them with nutrition. Bees and hummingbirds visit the flowers, with the species adapted for hummingbird pollination.

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4. Canada goldenrod

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  • Scientific Name: Solidago canadensis
  • Zone: 3 – 9
  • Where to see: Scattered throughout the state
  • Season: Late Summer

Canada goldenrod is a herbaceous perennial plant that grows upright, creating colonies with little yellow blooms raised above the foliage. It can grow to a height of 2 to 6 feet, and in the late summer, you can observe them blooming with inflorescences that have a pyramidal appearance. 

Various insects, especially bumblebees and paper wasps, visit it for pollen and nectar. You can see them grow in many different habitats, from dry to waterlogged areas, and they spread aggressively through rhizomes.

5. Spider milkweed

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  • Scientific Name: Asclepias asperula
  • Zone: 5 – 9
  • Where to see: Northeastern to Southern Nevada
  • Season: Early to mid summer

Spider milkweed is a natural perennial plant found in Nevada that grows up to 1-3 feet tall and produces clustered greenish-yellow blooms with crimson highlights from early to midsummer. The plant is an essential food source for Monarch and Queen butterfly larvae and produces a poisonous white latex sap as a defensive strategy, making the butterflies unattractive to predators. 

The blooms have five light green petals that cup around five distinct white hoods that store nectar, and they’re tiny green, purple, and white flowers the size of tennis balls. 

6. Pacific anemone

Pacific anemone
Pacific anemone | image by Malcolm Manners via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Anemone multifida
  • Zone: 3 – 9
  • Where to see: Tip of Northeastern and Southern Nevada 
  • Season: Early Summer

One of the wildflowers you may come across in the state of Nevada is the Pacific anemone. This perennial herb’s appearance varies, with heights ranging from 10 to 70 centimeters and leaves with long petioles covered in silky or coarse white hairs. 

The inflorescence has one or more flowers with sepals that look like petals and are generally white. You can also find them growing in a variety of places, including calcareous ledges, rocky areas near water sources, gravelly soils, and even prairies. 

7. Low pussytoes

Low pussytoes
Low pussytoes | image by Matt Lavin via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Antennaria dimorpha
  • Zone: 3 – 9
  • Where to see: Scattered throughout the state
  • Season: Late Spring

If you find low pussytoes, a small herb that grows in mats, you’ll see that it grows flat from a thick, branching caudex. It has upright inflorescences that are only a few centimeters tall and have single flower heads lined with phyllaries that are dark brown and green in patches. 

As plants age, they may develop a dead area in the middle, while new growth appears in a ring around the outside. This species prefers dry areas and is native to western Canada and the western United States. 

8. False agoseris

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  • Scientific Name: Agoseris glauca
  • Where to see: Scattered throughout the state
  • Season: Summer

False agoseris is among the flowers you may notice throughout the state. It can reach a height of 70 centimeters, produces flower heads with ligulate ray florets that can be yellow at first but can eventually turn pinkish, and forms a basal patch of leaves that are typically up to 35 centimeters long. 

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The plant thrives in various non-forested habitats, and it contains a bitter, milky juice that can solidify and be chewed as gum, a practice observed among Plains Indians.

9. Shockley’s goldenhead

Shockley’s goldenhead
Shockley’s goldenhead | image by Jim Morefield via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Acamptopappus shockleyi 
  • Where to see: Central to Southern Nevada
  • Season: Spring to Summer

If you explore the eastern Mojave desert in southern Nevada and southeastern California, you might find Shockley’s goldenhead. This perennial subshrub, belonging to the Asteraceae family, is distinguished by its solitary flower heads bearing ray and disk flowers. 

It grows well in flat areas and washes found in the eastern Mojave Desert, White Mountains, Inyo Mountains, and some parts of southern Nevada. The species was named in honor of William Hillman Shockley.

10. Cardinal flower

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  • Scientific Name: Lobelia cardinalis
  • Zone: 3 – 9 
  • Where to see: Central to Southern Nevada
  • Season: Summer to Fall

Cardinal flower is a gorgeous herbaceous perennial that grows 4 to 5 feet tall and thrives in rich, wet soil, tolerating full sun to partial shade. From late summer to fall, the plant displays shiny, toothed leaves and brilliant red blooms that catch the eye. 

This plant is perfect for pollinator gardens as it attracts hummingbirds and butterflies, and it also adds beauty to woodland gardens, wet meadows, and water features. 

11. Meadow thistle

Meadow thistle
Meadow thistle | image by Matt Lavin via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Cirsium scariosum
  • Zone: 3 – 9 
  • Where to see: Scattered throughout the state
  • Season: Summer

When you come across meadow thistle or elk thistle, you’ll note that this biennial or perennial herb takes on a variety of shapes, such as stemless rosettes, mounding clusters, or towering, erect stems that can grow up to 200 cm in height. 

The plant’s leaves have sharp teeth or lobes with spines and can grow up to 40 centimeters long near the base. The stem of this plant also has several flower heads with white to purple disc florets and no ray florets.