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12 Types of Wildflowers in New Mexico

With its diverse landscapes ranging from arid deserts to alpine meadows, New Mexico is a haven for a wide variety of native plant species. Wildflowers in New Mexico come in a wide variety of brilliant colors, and shapes and they provide an enthralling display of organic beauty, from Texas dandelions to the beautiful fleabane that adorns mountain meadows. 

Let’s learn about some of the state’s wildflowers and become familiar with their traits and habitats.

12 Wildflowers in New Mexico

Adopted in 1927, the Yucca flower, New Mexico’s state flower, stands as a testament to the state’s desert environment. This perennial plant is adept at surviving harsh conditions, storing water in its succulent leaves. Its imposing flower spikes produce stunning white or cream blooms that offer a striking contrast against New Mexico’s desert backdrop.

New Mexico also boasts a colorful variety of wildflowers. As spring unfolds, the landscape comes alive with the brilliant colors of Indian Paintbrush and Mexican Poppies. The Threadleaf Phacelia and Purple Prairie Clover bloom under the summer sun, while the fall season brings the vibrant hues of the Scarlet Globemallow and Apache Plume.

These blooms, spread across the state’s varied terrains from flat desert expanses to high mountains, add dynamic splashes of color and contribute to the rich biodiversity of New Mexico.

1. Texas Dandelion

Texas dandelion flowers
Texas dandelion flowers | image by Surely Shirly via Flickr
  • Scientific Name: Pyrrhopappus pauciflorus
  • Where to see: Eastern and Western counties
  • Season: March – June

If you see a dandelion while out in nature in New Mexico, check it out because it might be the Texas dandelion. This plant has unique characteristics such as dark anther tubes, small matted hairs on its 6-18 inch tall stems, and basal leaves that are deeply lobed or toothed. 

The flowers, which bloom from March to June, are a vibrant yellow, with notched tips on the ray florets surrounding prominent dark anthers. Look for this native dandelion in sandy, clay, or loamy soils along streams, highways, and grasslands at elevations between 4,000 and 7,400 feet.

2. Rocky Mountain Beeplant

Rocky mountain beeplant flowers
Rocky mountain beeplant flowers | image by Andrey Zharkikh via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Peritoma serrulata
  • Where to see: Widespread, except in eastern plains
  • Season: June-September

When exploring the outdoors of New Mexico, keep an eye out for the vibrant stands of Rocky Mountain Beeplant, also known as bee spider-flower. These plants are tall, usually between 2 to 5 feet, and they grow well on roadsides and soils that have been disturbed. 

The pink flowers grow in clusters and look like a moving cloud of color, which is very beautiful to watch. Interestingly, the Pueblo Indians used these as pot herbs and to create black pigment for pottery designs. 

3. Albuquerque Prairie-Clover 

Albuquerque prairie clover flowers
Albuquerque prairie clover flowers | image by Patrick Alexander via Flickr
  • Scientific Name: Dalea scariosa
  • Where to see:  Central NM Rio Grande basin
  • Season: June-September

If you’re exploring the dunes and grasslands of the middle Rio Grande basin, make sure to check out the Albuquerque Prairie-clover flower. This fascinating wildflower features prostrate, spreading stems that sprawl across the landscape in dense clusters. 

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From June to September, the tall spikes of this plant are covered in beautiful pink to purple flowers, making for a vibrant display. As the blooms mature, they form gland-shaped spherical pods that range in color from green to pink. 

4. Wavyleaf Thistle

Wavyleaf thistle flowers
Wavyleaf thistle flowers | image by USDA NRCS Montana via Flickr
  • Scientific Name: Cirsium undulatum
  • Where to see: Statewide
  • Season: May–September

If you see the Wavyleaf Thistle, you’ll see that it has thick and fuzzy stems that can grow between 1 to 3 feet tall. It usually has many branches and can form large groups. The flowers bloom from May to September and have egg- to bell-shaped heads with a dense cluster of lavender, creamy white, or pink, tubular, thread-like flowers.  

You can find them in shortgrass prairies, desert grasslands, pinyon-juniper woodlands, and even in ponderosa pine-fir to subalpine forests.

5. Parry’s Bellflower

Parry’s bellflowers
Parry’s bellflowers | image by Rocky Mountain National Park via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Campanula parryi
  • Where to see: Western and Northern mountains
  • Season: July-September

Parry’s Bellflower is a charming flower that can be found hiding in the grass, with its blue to violet blossoms standing upright on short stems. The cup-shaped flowers, which bloom from July to September, feature five pointed lobes about half the flower’s length and spreading petals. Parry’s Bellflower grows well in meadows, stream banks, openings, and roadsides with gravelly, sandy, or clay soils. 

6. White Tackstem

White tackstem flowers
White tackstem flowers | image by Chic Bee via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Calycoseris wrightii
  • Where to see: SW quarter of NM
  • Season: March–June

The White Tackstem plant has stems that are 8 inches tall and flower heads covered in flat glands that look like small tacks. The flower heads, which can grow up to 1 1/2 inches across, are loaded with rows of white ray blooms that get smaller as they get closer to the yellow-tinted center. They’re often found in sandy and gravelly soils, especially in desert grasslands and scrub habitats.

7. Wirelettuce

Wirelettuce flowers
Wirelettuce flowers | image by David~O via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Stephanomeria pauciflora
  • Where to see: Nearly statewide (not recorded in Colfax County)
  • Season: May–September

When you come across the Wirelettuce, you’ll notice its unique adaptation to its arid surroundings. The bushy, wiry stems, practically devoid of leaves, allow this 7-20-inch tall plant to survive in sandy and gravelly soils, and its flower heads contain 5-6 pink to purple petal-like florets with tiny teeth on the tips. Even in a drought, the green stems can still make food through photosynthesis, even if the leaves fall off. 

8. Beautiful Fleabane

Beautiful fleabane flower
Beautiful fleabane flower | image by Kevin Gessner via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Erigeron formosissimus 
  • Where to see: Statewide
  • Season: July–October

In New Mexico, you can find a wildflower called Beautiful Fleabane. It has roots that spread out and create groups of leaves at the base and flower stems that can be hairy or hairless and range from 4 to 16 inches tall. 

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The flower heads at the end of the stem have tightly packed white to lavender petals surrounding a bright yellow center. The name “formosissimus”, which means “most beautiful” in Latin, perfectly describes the species’ attractiveness. 

9. Crownleaf Evening Primrose

Crownleaf evening primrose
Crownleaf evening primrose | image by Andrey Zharkikh via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Oenothera coronopifolia
  • Where to see: Widespread in northern, western, central NM
  • Season: June–September

When you come across the Crownleaf Evening Primrose, you’ll be greeted by its upright and branching stems, which stand 1 to 2 feet tall and are decorated with coarse hairs and display exquisite white blooms. These beautiful flowers emerge from June to September and have 4 white petals with notched tips. Crownleaf Evening Primrose grows well in sandy or gravelly soil, grassy areas, slopes, and open spaces. 

10. False Solomon’s Seal

False solomon’s seal
False solomon’s seal | image by rockerBOO via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Maianthemum  racemosum 
  • Where to see: Statewide
  • Season: May–July

False Solomon’s Seal is a wildflower that blooms from May to July and has erect stems that grow 8 to 24 inches tall. A spike-like cluster of white flowers with several blossoms is present on each short side branch of these plants.

As the season goes on, the False Solomon’s Seal grows yellow berries that turn into reddish-purple fruits. These fruits are about 1/4 inch in size. 

11. Many-Flowered Stickseed

Many flowered stickseed
Many flowered stickseed | image by Yellowstone National Park via Flickr
  • Scientific Name: Hackelia  floribunda
  • Where to see: Western half of NM
  • Season: June–August

Many-flowered Stickseed has elongated, one-sided clusters of small blue to white flowers, each of which has five lobes that resemble petals with a recognizable elevated yellow center. You can also recognize them by their tall stem and big leaves, which are important features of this type of plant. Many-flowered Stickseed’s small nutlet seeds have prickles with barbs on the edge that can easily stick to clothes, which is where its common name came from. 

12. Firewheel

Firewheel flowers
Firewheel flowers | image by Under the same moon… via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Gaillardia pulchella
  • Where to see: Nearly statewide (not reported in Mora Co.)
  • Season: April-August

If you find the Firewheel wildflower, you’ll see that it has thin stems that can grow up to 2 feet tall with colorful flowers that bloom from a leafy base in the spring. These flowers have bright red and yellow colors and usually grow in groups from the previous year’s seeds. 

Remember that the amount and shape of red and yellow on the multicolored ray flowers can vary greatly.  This plant can also be found in various environments, such as prairies, desert grasslands, scrub, and pinyon-juniper forests.