Wildflowers are typically thought of as the harbingers of spring, bringing a bit of color to the winter landscape. There are over 200 species of wildflowers in Washington State, each with their own attributes, including bloom time. And while a lot of wildflowers do typically appear in the spring, there are more than a few species that bloom throughout most of the year. We take a look at 12 common wildflowers in Washington.
12 Wildflowers in Washington
Washington state wildflower
The state wildflower of Washington is the coast rhododendron. It was designated as the state wildflower in 1892. The coast rhododendron is a shrub that can grow up to 30 feet tall and is known for its large, showy flowers that bloom in shades of pink, purple, and white. It is native to the Pacific Northwest and can be found in coastal forests, mountain slopes, and other wooded areas. The coast rhododendron is a popular ornamental plant and is often used in landscaping and gardening.
Let’s check out 12 more Washington wildflowers!
1. Subalpine Daisy
Scientific Name: Erigeron peregrinus
Subalpine Daisy goes by several different names, such as Coastal Fleabane, Wandering Daisy, and Mountain Daisy. It is native to alpine and subalpine regions of western North America.
This wildflower blooms from June to August. The flowers are solitary, with a yellow center disk and white to pinkish or lavender ray florets. The flowers are daisy-like, with 20 to 30 petals that are narrow and pointed. Subalpine Daisy can cover mountainsides and other high-elevation habitats.
2. Tassel Rue
Scientific Name: Trautvetteria caroliniensis
Also known as False Bugbane, this wildflower produces clusters of white, airy blooms. The flowers of this plant do not have petals, and instead have many white stamens that surround the pistils.
Tassel Rue can reach up to 5 feet tall and typically blooms from June to September. It is generally found along stream banks and in moist wooded areas.
3. Red Columbine
Scientific Name: Aquilegia formosa
The Red Columbine produces yellow to red flowers on thin stems that can grow up to 3 feet tall. The bloom hangs downward, which makes it appear as if it is facing back at the ground.
This wildflower attracts butterflies and hummingbirds, which will feed on the plant’s nectar. The Red Columbine thrives in moist areas, such as near streambanks.
4. Scarlet Paintbrush
Scientific Name: Castilleja miniata
The Scarlet Paintbrush produces red petals that are tipped with hues of orange and yellow, which gives this plant its name. These blooms appear from May to September, and the entire plant can grow up to 3 feet tall. The Scarlet Paintbrush thrives in sunny meadows, but can also be found along forests’ edges.
5. Spreading Phlox
Scientific Name: Phlox diffusa
Spreading Phlox grows from 2 to 8 inches tall, forming a mat-like covering over the ground. From May to August, purple, pink, or white-colored blooms will appear. Spreading Phlox thrives along hillsides with dry soil, such as rocky slopes, pumice fields, and alpine areas.
6. Broadleaf Lupine
Scientific Name: Lupinus latifolius
While there are a wide array of lupines throughout the United States, the Broadleaf Lupine is the most commonly seen lupine in the state of Washington. These plants grow between 2 to 4 feet tall, producing multiple white, purple, or pink blooms on a single stem from the months of June to August. The Broadleaf Lupine can be found in subalpine forests, open slopes, and meadows at high elevations.
Scientific Name: Digitalis purpurea
Foxglove is a stunning plant that produces various pink and purple blooms on a tall stalk. These blooms can appear from early to midsummer, and attract hummingbirds.
Foxglove is most often seen along roadsides, in meadows and fields, and near the edge of forests. Something to consider is that Foxglove does contain digitalis and other cardiac glycosides, which can have a negative impact on your heart.
8. Stream Violet
Scientific Name: Viola glabella
Stream Violets produce bright yellow blooms with an iconic violet-shape and heart-shaped foliage. These plants are widely spread throughout the state during early spring, and are found in alpine, subalpine, meadows, and forests.
9. Tiger Lily
Scientific Name: Lilium columbianum
Tiger Lilies, also known as Columbia Lilies, produce bright orange blooms that are covered in brown spots. These blooms face downward, with the tips of the petals curling backward and the stamens pointing toward the ground. Tiger Lilies are found in a wide array of habitats, including in meadows, forests, subalpines, and along the road.
10. Common Camas
Scientific Name: Camassia quamash
The Common Camas is a stunning wildflower that produces 6 to 25 inch tall stalks that are covered in blue or purple blooms that are shaped like a star. These blooms typically appear in late spring and continue blooming until early summer. The Common Camas can be found in just about any habitat that is lightly shaded.
11. Marsh Forget-Me-Not
Scientific Name: Myosotis scorpioides
The Marsh Forget-Me-Not is not as common as some of the other wildflowers on our list, but it is one you are more likely to run across in wet areas. This plant is 2 to 28 inches tall, and produces small, bright blue flowers that have a yellow center. The Marsh Forget-Me-Not thrives in wetlands, moist mountains, and other shaded, damp areas.
12. Naked Broomrape
Scientific Name: Orobanche uniflora
Also known as the One Flowered Broomrape, this wildflower produces 1 to 5 stalks that measure 3 to 8 inches tall. Each stalk has a trumpet-shaped purple bloom with a yellow center.
This plant is considered parasitic and an agricultural threat. The Naked Broomrape is typically found along streambanks and in meadows.
Best Places to see Wildflowers in Washington
Spring is the most common time to see wildflowers in Washington, and you can see the early risers just about anywhere in the state, maybe even in your own backyard. This is especially true for the lower elevations in the state.
If, however, you want to view alpine wildflowers, you will need to wait a bit longer. In higher elevations, wildflowers typically don’t start blooming until summer to late summer.
In the North Cascades region, consider hiking along the Yellow Aster Butte trail during the summer months to see an array of colorful wildflowers.
The Kendall Katwalk in the Central/South Cascades region can provide you with a stunning view of alpine wildflowers. However, be warned that this trail is known for its narrow path that traverses along a rocky cliffside. This can be a disadvantage for a lot of people.
In Central Washington, consider visiting the Ancient Lakes, which provides a canyon environment where you can see various wildflowers, along with stunning rock formations. The Weldon Wagon Road is a highly recommended hike if you are in Southwest Washington. This open terrain is the perfect environment for early blooming wildflowers.