Utah is known for having a semi-arid, dry, and desert-like climate. In fact, Utah is one of the driest states in the United States, thanks to its low humidity levels. While the dryness of the state can make growing plants a little more difficult, there are actually several different wildflowers in Utah. Keep reading to learn more about these plants and where you can find them.
12 Wildflowers in Utah
State wildflowers of Utah
The state wildflower of Utah is the Sego Lily, also known as Calochortus nuttallii. This beautiful flower is native to the western United States and can be found throughout Utah’s mountainous regions. The Sego Lily is a symbol of resilience and endurance, as it was a vital food source for Native American tribes during times of scarcity.
Its delicate white petals and yellow center make it a stunning addition to any landscape. In 1911, the Sego Lily was officially designated as the state flower of Utah, and it remains an important part of the state’s natural heritage to this day.
The best time to view wildflowers in Utah will vary depending on the elevation of the area and the temperature. Plants can bloom anytime in the state from March through September, while higher-elevations typically see their peak bloom season in June, July, and August.
1. Sego Lily
Scientific Name: Calochortus nuttallii
The Sego Lily may be Utah’s most famous wildflower, thanks to the state declaring it its state flower. This wildflower produces white blooms that have three petals, each with a bell-shaped outline.
Sego Lily can reach up to 17 inches tall and is most often found in open wooded areas, semi-desert conditions, and grasslands. They grow best in elevations of up to 10,000 feet.
2. Mountain Bluebell
Scientific Name: Mertensia ciliata
Mountain Bluebells are named for their bright blue flowers that are shaped like a bell, which appear in early spring. This wildflower is found in damp soils, such as along stream beds, wet cliffs, creek-sides, damp meadows, and soggy thickets. The entire plant can grow anywhere from 6 inches to 4 feet tall.
Scientific Name: Achillea millefolium
Yarrow is one of the most common wildflowers found in the western portion of the United States, including Utah. The clusters of flowers this plant produces can be white to purple in color and attract various pollinators.
Yarrow is an aromatic herb that has been used for many years for its natural insecticide and medicinal properties. It is often seen in open areas, anywhere from high atop a mountain to grassy lowlands.
4. Indian Paintbrush
Scientific Name: Castilleja spp.
There are various cultivars of the Indian Paintbrush that can be found in Utah. This plant is named for its paintbrush-like appearance. The blooms of this wildflower vary in color and can be red, yellow, orange, white, or pink. It is found in open wooded areas, canyons, prairies, foothills, mountain ridges, and even desert areas.
5. Utah Columbine
Scientific Name: Aquilegia scopulorum
The Utah Columbine produces delicate white flowers that look similar to an inverted dove. In fact, the word columbine comes from the Latin word for dove.
Utah Columbine thrives at elevations of 6,500 to 11,500 feet, where areas are cool and damp. Forests, meadows, and rocky slopes are where this wildflower is often found in Utah.
6. Elephant’s Head
Scientific Name: Pedicularis groenlandica
The Elephant’s Head produces a tall stalk that is topped with a showy cluster of purple or pink-colored blooms. These blooms resemble the face of an elephant, thus its name and appear from May to June. Elephant’s Head is most commonly found in marshy meadows and the beds of mountain streams.
7. Silvery Lupine
Scientific Name: Lupinus argenteus
Silvery Lupine is found in grasslands, open and shady areas, forests, and mountains. It produces palm-shaped leaves on long stalks that are covered in blue pea-like flowers. These blooms appear in spring and the entire plant can grow up to 4 feet tall.
8. Common Fiddleneck
Scientific Name: Amsinckia intermedia
Fiddlenecks are an interesting wildflower that has a straight stem covered in long, white hairs. At the top of these stems are yellow or orange blooms that appear at spaced intervals.
These blooms appear from March to June, and the entire plant can reach up to 4 feet tall. Fiddlenecks ideal habitats include grasslands and open areas.
9. Stinking Chamomile
Scientific Name: Anthemis cotula
While this plant is also known as mayweed and dog fennel, Stinking Chamomile fits this wildflower better thanks to the unpleasant aroma that it exudes. Stinking Chamomile produces white daisy-like blooms with a yellow center.
It is non-native and actually hails from Europe and North Africa. It is most often found along roadsides, and in grasslands, sand dunes, and wooded areas.
10. Heartleaf Arnica
Scientific Name: Arnica cordifolia
The Heartleaf Arnica is named for its heart-shaped leaves, which are coarsely toothed and grow close to the base of the plant. From June to August, this wildflower produces bright yellow daisy-like blooms. Heartleaf Arnica grows up to 2 feet tall and is found in wooded areas and open hillsides.
11. Showy Milkweed
Scientific Name: Asclepias speciosa
Showy Milkweed looks similar to common milkweed, with the tall stalks topped with clusters of purple to pink blooms. These blooms can appear from late spring to early fall and are a food source for pollinators.
The leaves and stems of this plant are covered in soft hairs and Showy Milkweed grows up to 4 feet tall. Showy Milkweed is most often seen along stream banks and roadsides, as well as in open fields.
12. Yellow Cups
Scientific Name: Camissonia brevipes
Yellow Cups are most commonly seen in desert areas, along dry washes, and in rocky or sandy slopes. It produces short stalks that are hair and yellow buttercup-like blooms. It is not uncommon to see the stalks dropping downwards once the blooms appear.
Best Places to see Wildflowers in Utah
Because of Utah’s varying elevations, it can be a bit difficult to know where the best places to see wildflowers in Utah. The truth is, you may need to do a little walking to see all the various plants this state has to offer. The first place to start is at one of Utah’s state parks.
Utah is home to 43 state parks, all of which provide a trusted location to see native flora, and most of them offer various hiking trails to make it easier for you to see wildflowers.
A good example is the Lava Tube Trail, which is located in Snow Canyon State Park. This trail takes you through a lava field, which allows you the opportunity to view desert wildflowers, such as sego lily and fiddleneck.
Utah is also home to the Wildflower Festival in Cedar Breaks. This festival occurs in July just outside of Cedar City. The cliffs of Markagunt Plateau come alive with color thanks to over 250 different wildflower species.