Colorado is home to an astounding range of native flowering plants and wildflowers. The Centennial State provides a diverse range of habitats for plants. Colorado is also home to several native wildflowers that form the basis of a broad variety of ecosystems. In this article, we’ll explore 50 beautiful types of native Colorado flowers, flowering plants, and wildflowers.
- Colorado Native Range
- How Are Colorado’s Native Plants Defined?
- When Are Colorado’s Native Flowering Plants in Season?
- 50 Native Colorado Flowering Plants and Wildflowers
- 1. Blanket Flower (Gaillardia spp.)
- 2. Scott’s Sugarbowls (Clematis scottii)
- 3. Grand Mesa Penstemon (Penstemon mensarum)
- 4. Western Wallflower (Erysimum capitatum)
- 5. Rocky Mountain Beeplant (Cleome serrulata)
- 6. Mountain Mahogany (Cercocarpus montanus)
- 7. Purple Poppy Mallow (Callirhoe involucrata)
- 8. Windflower (Anemone multifida)
- 9. Purple Prairie Clover (Dalea purpurea)
- 10. Showy Goldeneye (Heliomeris multiflora)
- 11. Blue Flax (Linum lewisii)
- 12. Canadian Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis)
- 13. Whipple’s Penstemon (Penstemon whippleanus)
- 14. American Pasqueflower (Pulsatilla nuttalliana)
- 15. Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa)
- 16. Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
- 17. Scarlet Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcea coccinea)
- 18. Subalpine Larkspur (Delphinium barbeyi)
- 19. Small-leaf Pussytoes (Antennaria parvifolia)
- 20. Boulder Raspberry (Oreobatus rubus deliciosus)
- 21. Scarlet Bugler (Penstemon barbatus)
- 22. Fringed Sage (Artemisia frigida)
- 23. Silky Lupine (Lupinus sericeus)
- 24: Upright Prairie Coneflower (Ratibida columnifera)
- 25. Pearly Everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea)
- 26. Colorado Blue Columbine (Aquilegia coerulea)
- 27. Scarlet Gilia (Ipomopsis aggregata)
- 28. Shell-leaf Penstemon (Penstemon grandiflorus)
- 29. Bee Balm (Monarda fistulosa)
- 30. Harebells (Campanula rotundifolia)
- 31. Pink Mountain Heather (Phyllodoce empetriformis)
- 32. Tall Fringed Bluebells (Mertensia ciliata)
- 33. Plains Yellow Primrose (Calylophus serrulatus)
- 34. Sulphur Flower (Eriogonum umbrellatum)
- 35. Beautiful Jacob’s Ladder (Polemonium pulcherrimum)
- 36. White-tufted Evening Primrose (Oenothera caespitosa)
- 37. Prairie Smoke (Geum triflorum)
- 38. Maximilian Sunflower (Helianthus maximiliana)
- 39. Sand Penstemon (Penstemon ambiguus)
- 40. Fireweed (Chamaenerion angustifolium)
- 41. Aspen Daisy (Erigeron speciosus)
- 42. Dotted Gayfeather (Liatris punctata)
- 43. Elephant Head Lousewort (Pedicularis groenlandica)
- 44. Wholeleaf Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja integra)
- 45. Blue Mist Penstemon (Penstemon virens)
- 46. Chocolate Flower (Berlandiera lyrata)
- 47. Gray Rabbitbrush (Ericameria nauseosus)
- 48. Nodding Onion (Allium cernuum)
- 49. Rocky Mountain Penstemon (Penstemon strictus)
- 50. Sweet Sand-verbena (Abronia fragrans)
- Colorado Native Flowering Plants FAQs:
- Colorado Flowers – The Final Word
Colorado Native Range
Colorado provides several different habitats for its native flowering plants and wildflowers. These habitats stretch across various ecosystems, from the Rocky Mountains to the wildflower-rich Great Plains.
Some of Colorado’s ecosystems contain a high ratio of endemic flowering plants and wildflowers. An endemic species is one that grows in a very particular area or ecosystem. It’s estimated that on the Colorado Plateau, over 10% of the plant species are endemic to this area.
Colorado is situated in the Midwestern region of the United States and has five USDA Hardiness Zones. Colorado’s native flowering plants and wildflowers are perfectly adapted to survive in USDA Zones 3 to 7a. Most of Colorado falls under Zones 3 to 5, with a few western and southeastern areas being in Zones 6 and 7a.
How Are Native Colorado Flowers Defined?
With many gardeners across Colorado bringing exotic or imported plants, some of these species can become naturalized across the state. So how are Colorado’s native plants defined and separated from non-native species?
Plants are defined as native to Colorado if they grew in the region before European settlers arrived in the 1850s. As such, many of Colorado’s native plants were used for food, medicine, or other purposes by Native American societies.
When Are Native Colorado Flowers in Season?
Colorado’s highly variable climate can be a challenge for native flowering plants. Most of Colorado’s native flowering plants bloom from summer until fall, depending on the weather. Warmer temperatures and reduced risk of frost particularly benefit Colorado’s native wildflowers, which prefer to bloom during the summer.
Some of Colorado’s native flowering plants, such as blue flax and prairie smoke, bloom during the spring. These early blooms provide vital nectar for pollinators such as solitary bees.
50 Native Colorado Flowers, Flowering Plants, and Wildflowers:
1. Blanket Flower (Gaillardia spp.)
Blanket flowers are annual or perennial herbs that grow across the United States and parts of South America. Blanket flowers belong to the Gaillardia genus, which is part of the Aster family (Asteraceae). The flowers resemble the colorful patterns on the blankets used by many Native American societies.
2. Scott’s Sugarbowls (Clematis scottii)
Also known as Scott’s clematis, this bushy clematis variety is native to many of the Great Plains states. Scott’s sugarbowls (Clematis scottii) are named after John Scott, who discovered the plant in Colorado in 1872. These perennials grow best on Colorado’s mountain slopes.
Scott’s sugarbowls produce beautiful deep blue flowers from May to July. These flowers are bell-shaped. Growing as bushy spreading shrubs, Scott’s sugarbowls can reach approximately 1 foot high and 1 ½ foot wide.
3. Grand Mesa Penstemon (Penstemon mensarum)
The Grand Mesa penstemon (Penstemon mensarum), also known as the Grand Mesa beardtongue, is an exceptionally rare member of the Penstemon genus. These gorgeous perennials are sadly confined to just seven locations in western Colorado. Grand mesa penstemon is threatened by invasive plants and being cut down during road maintenance.
Grand Mesa penstemon has intense cobalt blue tubular flowers with pink or purple accents. These blooms emerge during late spring and early summer and are beloved by bees.
4. Western Wallflower (Erysimum capitatum)
The western wallflower (Erysimum capitatum) is a biennial herb that grows in Colorado and Utah. It’s also known as prairie rocket and thrives in Colorado’s forests and plains. As a biennial, the western wallflower takes two years to produce flowers from seed.
Western wallflowers have orange, red, or yellow flowers growing from upright stems. These flowers bloom from May to July. The Zuni people in New Mexico use western wallflower to relieve aching muscles.
5. Rocky Mountain Beeplant (Cleome serrulata)
The Rocky Mountain beeplant (Cleome serrulata) is an annual wildflower in the Cleaomaceae family. It’s also known as beeweed and Navajo spinach. As its name implies, it’s extremely popular with bees and other pollinating insects.
Rocky Mountain beeplant has a native range stretching from southern Canada through the central and western United States. The pink to reddish-purple flowers bloom from May to September. The seeds and leaves are eaten by many Native American cultures.
6. Mountain Mahogany (Cercocarpus montanus)
Mountain mahogany (Cercocarpus montanus) is a perennial shrub that belongs to the Rose family (Rosaceae). It’s also known as alder-leaf mountain mahogany and thrives in the plains, mesas, and foothills of the Great Plains region.
When the flowers first bloom in April, they are small, red blooms. As the flowering season continues into May, the flowers open up and turn yellow. Once it has finished flowering, mountain mahogany produces whispy silver-white fruits.
7. Purple Poppy Mallow (Callirhoe involucrata)
Purple poppy mallow (Callirhoe involucrata) is a perennial flowering plant native to the central and southwestern United States. These tough little flowers are also known as buffalo rose or winecup. Purple poppy mallow belongs to the mallow family (Malvaceae).
Purple poppy mallow has magenta or purple cup-shaped flowers, hence its nickname of winecup. These Colorado spring flowers will continue to bloom until fall. Purple poppy mallow thrives as ground cover in dry soils of prairie habitats.
8. Windflower (Anemone multifida)
Windflowers (Anemone multifida) are an anemone species that comes from the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae). These charming little perennials grow throughout North America and can also be found in some regions of South America. Windflowers prefer stony calcareous soils.
Windflowers are in flower during the spring and summer and produce a range of colors, although white flowers are the most common. The leaves and flowers of windflowers are covered in fine white hairs. Windflowers are also toxic.
9. Purple Prairie Clover (Dalea purpurea)
Purple prairie clover (Dalea purpurea) is one of the mainstays of many prairie habitats across the United States. These perennials thrive on Colorado’s prairies and attract a wealth of pollinators. Purple prairie clover belongs to the legume or pea family (Fabaceae).
These flowers produce woody stems topped by dense spikes of purple flowers. Purple prairie clover benefits from wildfires as the blazes clear rival plants that would push the clover into the shade.
10. Showy Goldeneye (Heliomeris multiflora)
Showy goldeneye (Heliomeris multiflora) is a perennial flowering plant from the Aster family (Asteraceae). The herbaceous stems and foliage can reach up to 4 feet tall, producing a dense thicket of bright yellow flowers. These blooms look like small versions of sunflowers but grow in bigger clusters.
Showy goldeneye starts flowering in July and finishes in September or October. These perennials are native to the central and southwestern United States and parts of Mexico.
11. Blue Flax (Linum lewisii)
Named after the famous explorer Meriwether Lewis, blue flax (Linum lewisii) is also known as Lewis flax. Blue flax grows on elevated slopes of the central and western United States. Native American societies used the seeds as food and the fibers to make cordage.
Blue flax is a perennial that grows up to 2 ½ feet tall. The stems produce light blue to white flowers with dark blue veins radiating from the center of the flower.
12. Canadian Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis)
Canadian goldenrod (Solidago canadensis) is native to north-central and northwestern areas of Canada and the United States including Colorado. These types of goldenrod are perennial members of the Aster family (Asteraceae).
Canadian goldenrod has an upright growth habit, producing compacted fronds of tiny yellow flowers along its branches. These plants can quickly colonize new areas after wildfires and other disturbances. In other parts of the world like Asia or Europe, the Canadian goldenrod is considered invasive.
13. Whipple’s Penstemon (Penstemon whippleanus)
Also known as Whipple’s beardtongue, Whipple’s penstemon (Penstemon whippleanus) is a perennial flowering plant that grows in meadows or on slopes. Whipple’s penstemon is indigenous to central and southwestern states such as Colorado. It’s one of 250 species that make up the Penstemon genus.
Whipple’s penstemon has dark purple bell-shaped tubular flowers that bloom from July until September. This penstemon variety attracts bumblebees and other pollinators with long tongues. Whipple’s penstemon prefers shaded habitats.
14. American Pasqueflower (Pulsatilla nuttalliana)
Pulsatilla is a group of approximately 40 species of perennial prairie flowers. Various species grow throughout Asia, Europe, and North America – where the main subspecies is American pasqueflower (Pulsatilla nuttalliana). It’s also known as the prairie crocus or prairie pasqueflower.
American pasqueflower blooms during the spring, producing bell-shaped flowers that open up to show shades of pink. The center of the flowers is yellow. American pasqueflower is a member of the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae).
15. Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa)
As the name suggests, the butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is incredibly important for butterflies. These perennials are the primary food plant for larvae of monarch and queen butterflies and several species of moths. Butterfly weed is a member of the milkweed genus (Asclepias).
Butterfly weed is indigenous to eastern and southwestern regions of North America, such as Colorado. From late spring into summer, butterfly weed produces dense clusters of nectar-rich orange or yellow star-shaped flowers.
16. Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) is one of the classic American prairie wildflowers. Like its sunflower cousins, black-eyed Susan belongs to the Aster family (Asteraceae). It’s widespread across the entire United States and is indigenous to eastern and central states like Colorado.
Black-eyed Susan is usually annual but can be biennial or perennial, depending on the climate. The tall flower stems can reach over 3 feet, producing cheery yellow flowers with dark brown cones.
17. Scarlet Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcea coccinea)
Scarlet globe mallow (Sphaeralcea coccinea) are perennial wildflowers that thrive on the prairies of North America. A member of the mallow family (Malvaceae), Scarlet globe mallow was one of the final plants collected by explorer Meriwether Lewis during the Lewis and Clark expedition.
Scarlet globe mallow flowers from May to October, producing spires of bright red and orange flowers. These mallows reach up to 1 foot and have gray hairs on the undersides of the leaves.
18. Subalpine Larkspur (Delphinium barbeyi)
Subalpine larkspur (Delphinium barbeyi) is a tall flowering perennial that belongs to the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae). These herbs can reach up to 1.5 meters tall and can live for up to 75 years. Subalpine larkspur thrives in moist subalpine climates on mountain slopes.
Subalpine larkspur is native to central-western states such as Arizona and Colorado. The towering flower spikes produce up to 50 dark blue flowers at once. Subalpine larkspur flowers from June to August.
19. Small-leaf Pussytoes (Antennaria parvifolia)
With their unusual fluffy seed heads, small-leaf pussytoes (Antennaria parvifolia) are one of Colorado’s more unique native flowers. These perennials are members of the Aster family (Asteraceae). Small-leaf pussytoes are widespread across the United States as well as Canada and northern Mexico.
Small-leaf pussytoes can grow up to 15 cm tall and are in flower from late spring through until fall. Once the white or cream flowers have gone, the furry seed heads emerge.
20. Boulder Raspberry (Oreobatus rubus deliciosus)
Also known as the Rocky Mountain raspberry, boulder raspberry (Oreobatus rubus deliciosus) is a perennial fruiting shrub native to Colorado. Boulder raspberry is a member of the Rose family (Rosaceae) and produces dark red fruits once flowering is over.
Boulder raspberry bushes produce large white flowers that can reach up to 3 inches across. The flowering season runs from May to June. Mature plants can reach up to 4 feet tall and don’t produce thorns.
21. Scarlet Bugler (Penstemon barbatus)
Another member of the Penstemon genus native to Colorado is the scarlet bugler (Penstemon barbatus). This perennial variety is commonly known as beardlip penstemon and is native to Colorado and other western regions of the United States. Scarlet bugler is a vital source of nectar for hummingbirds.
Scarlet bugler produces scarlet tube-shaped flowers with yellow hairs on the lower lip. These penstemons flower from late spring to mid-summer and may have a second flowering during the fall.
22. Fringed Sage (Artemisia frigida)
Despite its name, the fringed sage (Artemisia frigida) is part of the Aster family (Asteraceae) rather than the Sage family (Lamiaceae). Also known as prairie sage, fringed sage is a low-growing perennial plant native to Colorado and other western states.
Fringed sage produces grayish-green stems coated with silvery hairs. The gray foliage produces a pungent, aromatic scent. During the summer, clusters of tiny yellow flowers emerge from the base of the gray leaves.
23. Silky Lupine (Lupinus sericeus)
Silky lupine (Lupinus sericeus) is a perennial member of the pea family (Fabaceae) that thrives on Colorado’s dry, rocky slopes. Silky lupine is indigenous to the western regions of North America. These flowering plants can survive in many different habitats, such as grasslands or forests.
Silky lupine produces blue or purple flowers in June and July. These flowers protrude from stems that are covered in silver or red hairs. These hairs also coat the fruit pods.
24: Upright Prairie Coneflower (Ratibida columnifera)
Coneflowers are some of the most common prairie wildflowers across North America. The upright prairie coneflower (Ratibida columnifera) is one of Colorado’s native species and belongs to the Aster family (Asteraceae). It’s also known as the Mexican hat because its cone and petal arrangement resembles a sombrero.
Upright prairie coneflower has dark brown cones and yellow petals with red or brown patterns. The stalks of these wildflowers can grow up to 3 feet tall in ideal conditions.
25. Pearly Everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea)
Native to Asia and North America, pearly everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea) is a member of the sunflower family. It’s an important host plant for painted lady butterflies. These perennial wildflowers thrive on prairies and can reach 3 feet tall.
Pearly everlasting flowers from July to September, producing clusters of white flowers. These blooms produce a slightly musky scent and were used in Native American medicine. Despite the hairy undersides, the leaves can be cooked and eaten.
26. Colorado Blue Columbine (Aquilegia coerulea)
Colorado blue columbine (Aquilegia coerulea) is the state flower of the Centennial State. These Colorado native flowers are also found in neighboring states like Idaho and Montana. It’s a perennial member of the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae).
Colorado blue columbine has breathtaking flowers with five sky blue sepals and five inner white petals. Flowers bloom from April to July. Long spurs on the flowers provide nectar for hawkmoths and other insects. It favors forests or mountain meadows.
27. Scarlet Gilia (Ipomopsis aggregata)
First discovered in 1806 during the Lewis and Clark expedition, scarlet gilia (Ipomopsis aggregata) is a gorgeous biennial flower. It hails from the Phlox family (Polemoniaceae) and is also known as skyrocket or scarlet trumpet. Scarlet gilia is native to the southwestern United States.
Scarlet gilia produces exquisite trumpet-shaped flowers from May until July. Most flowers are a deep red, making them attractive to hummingbirds. Pink or yellow flowers are also produced depending on the habitat.
28. Shell-leaf Penstemon (Penstemon grandiflorus)
Also known as the large beardtongue, shell-leaf penstemon (Penstemon grandiflorus) is a large, showy member of the Penstemon genus. This perennial flowering plant grows throughout North America and thrives in gritty soils on prairies.
Shell-leaf penstemon can grow up to 4 feet tall, producing large tubular flowers in a pale lavender blue. The flowers can be up to 2 inches across and bloom from May to June. The oval-shaped leaves lack the hairs of some Penstemon species.
29. Bee Balm (Monarda fistulosa)
Bee balm (Monarda fistulosa) is one of North America’s most widespread wildflowers. These herbaceous perennials belong to the Mint family (Lamiaceae). Bee balm grows in large clumps and can reach up to 3 feet tall.
Bee balm flowers from June to September, producing firework-like clusters of lilac, pink, or purple flowers. This plant is rich in nectar and attracts swathes of bees and other pollinators. Beekeepers often use it as a honey plant.
30. Harebells (Campanula rotundifolia)
Harebells (Campanula rotundifolia) are a species of bluebell that grows throughout the Northern Hemisphere. These herbaceous perennials prefer mountain or subalpine habitats and thrive in Colorado. Harebells belong to the Bellflower family (Campanulaceae) along with other bluebell varieties.
Harebells have gorgeous bell-shaped flowers in shades of lavender-blue or violet. These flowers are made of five petals and bloom from late spring to fall, depending on the climate. Despite their delicate appearance, these flowers are very hardy.
31. Pink Mountain Heather (Phyllodoce empetriformis)
Pink mountain heather (Phyllodoce empetriformis) grows in the mountains of western North America, including the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Like most heather species, it’s a low-growing evergreen shrub with needle-like leaves. It’s also known as pink mountain heath and belongs to the Heath family (Ericaceae).
From June to August, pink mountain heather explodes into clusters of small bell-shaped pink or purple flowers. This shrub forms a mat that rarely grows higher than 16 inches tall.
32. Tall Fringed Bluebells (Mertensia ciliata)
Also known as mountain bluebells or streamside bluebells, tall fringed bluebells (Mertensia ciliata) are native to Colorado. Tall fringed bluebells belong to the Borage family (Boraginaceae) and prefer moist soils along the banks of creeks or streams.
Tall fringed bluebells flower from June to August. When the bell-shaped flowers first emerge, they are pale blue. As the flowers get older, they gradually turn reddish-pink. These perennials can grow up to a meter high.
33. Plains Yellow Primrose (Calylophus serrulatus)
Commonly known as yellow sundrops, plains yellow primrose (Calylophus serrulatus) is a perennial member of the evening primrose family (Onagraceae). It grows on plains and prairies across central North America, including Colorado.
Plains yellow primrose has a long flowering season that runs from March to November. The large yellow flowers have four wrinkled petals that open in the morning and close up in the evening. As the flowers get older, they gradually turn orange and then pink.
34. Sulphur Flower (Eriogonum umbrellatum)
Sulphur flowers (Eriogonum umbrellatum) are a perennial member of the knotweed family (Polygonaceae). They grow in a range of habitats across Colorado and other parts of western North America. Many Native American cultures used sulphur flowers as medicinal herbs.
Sulphur flowers produce flower clusters ranging from yellow to purple or white. These flowers bloom from summer to fall. Sulphur flowers are also a vital food plant for the larvae of several butterfly species.
35. Beautiful Jacob’s Ladder (Polemonium pulcherrimum)
Beautiful Jacob’s ladder (Polemonium pulcherrimum) is one of Colorado’s most common Polemonium species. This perennial herb thrives in mountainous habitats across western North America. It’s also known as skunk leaf and prefers shady growing conditions.
Beautiful Jacob’s ladder produces gorgeous clusters of pale blue to purple flowers with yellow centers. The flowers emerge on top of tall stems that can reach 30 cm high. Beautiful Jacob’s ladder blooms from spring to early summer.
36. White-tufted Evening Primrose (Oenothera caespitosa)
White-tufted evening primrose (Oenothera caespitosa) is a hardy member of the evening primrose family (Onagraceae). This low-growing perennial prefers loose, rocky soils on plains or slopes. White-tufted evening primrose is native to North America’s central and western regions.
From late spring to early summer, white-tufted evening primrose produces small white flowers at night. Once the sun rises, the blooms turn pink and wilt. It’s also called fragrant evening primrose due to its sweet scent.
37. Prairie Smoke (Geum triflorum)
The delicate, smoke-like wisps of prairie smoke (Geum triflorum) are found across most of North America. Also called old man’s whiskers, prairie smoke is a herbaceous perennial that attracts bumblebees. It belongs to the rose family (Rosaceae).
Prairie smoke has relatively bare stems that reach 16 inches high. These stems produce reddish-purple flowers that bloom from May to July. Once the flowers have finished, the distinctive wispy fruits emerge and drift in the wind like smoke.
38. Maximilian Sunflower (Helianthus maximiliana)
Maximilian sunflowers (Helianthus maximiliana) are a tall perennial variety of Helianthus indigenous to America’s Great Plains. The stems grow up to 10 feet tall and bear vibrant yellow flowers with brown discs. Maximilian sunflowers bloom from late summer through to fall.
Maximilian sunflowers are named after the German explorer Prince Maximilian, who discovered the plant when visiting the United States. Native American societies like the Sioux used the rhizomes of these sunflowers as a food source.
39. Sand Penstemon (Penstemon ambiguus)
Sand penstemon (Penstemon ambiguus) is also known as pink plains beardtongue. These perennials form mounds of herbaceous foliage that grow up to 3 feet tall. Like other members of the Penstemon genus, it belongs to the plantain family (Plantaginaceae).
From May until October, sand penstemon erupts with clusters of tubular pinkish-white. The flower stems grow from a woody base, multiplying as the plant matures. Sand penstemon can survive in sandy soils in southwestern states like Colorado.
40. Fireweed (Chamaenerion angustifolium)
Fireweed (Chamaenerion angustifolium) grows across the Northern Hemisphere in Europe and North America and is native to Colorado. These perennials are part of the willowherb family (Onagraceae). Fireweed grows rapidly in areas cleared by fire, hence its name.
Fireweed stems can reach up to 8 feet tall. From June to September, the flower spikes produce beautiful magenta and pink flowers. The stems have a reddish color and narrow green leaves. Fireweed is also brilliant for pollinators.
41. Aspen Daisy (Erigeron speciosus)
The aspen daisy (Erigeron speciosus) is widespread across western North America and thrives in conifer forests or prairies. It’s often called aspen fleabane or showy fleabane and is a perennial plant in the Aster family (Asteraceae).
Aspen daisy blooms from July to October, producing lavender-blue daisy flowers with yellow centers. Clumps of aspen daisies can grow up to 40 inches high. The large flower heads can hold up to 150 individual flowers.
42. Dotted Gayfeather (Liatris punctata)
The dotted gayfeather (Liatris punctata) is a perennial plant from the Liatris or gayfeather genus. This genus belongs to the Aster family (Asteraceae) and is native to North America. Dotted gayfeather grows in the forest, prairie, or scrubland habitats.
Dotted gayfeather produces several flower heads brimming with purple blooms that eventually give way to bristly fruits. The flowering season runs from August to October. Dotted gayfeather plants can live for over 35 years and are slow-growing plants.
43. Elephant Head Lousewort (Pedicularis groenlandica)
Elephant head lousewort (Pedicularis groenlandica) belongs to the broomrape family (Orobanchaceae) and grows in western parts of North America. Like other broomrapes, elephant head lousewort steals nutrients from surrounding plants using its roots.
Elephant head lousewort gets its name from its pink or purple flower spikes. Each flower has an upward-curving petal that looks like an elephant’s trunk, while the other petals resemble elephant ears. Elephant head lousewort blooms from May to June.
44. Wholeleaf Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja integra)
Wholeleaf Indian paintbrush (Castilleja integra) is one of Colorado’s most common species of Indian paintbrush. The Castilleja genus belongs to the broomrape family (Orobanchaceae) and contains over 200 species. Wholeleaf Indian paintbrush is indigenous to southwestern states like Colorado.
These plants have small green flowers protected by vibrant crimson bracts. These bracts form the brush-like flower spikes that bloom from March to September. Wholeleaf Indian paintbrush steals nutrients from the roots of surrounding plants.
45. Blue Mist Penstemon (Penstemon virens)
Also known as front range beardtongue, blue mist penstemon (Penstemon virens) is found only in Colorado and Wyoming. These perennial herbs grow up to 30 inches tall and prefer the loose, rocky slopes of foothills. Like other penstemons, the blue mist penstemon hails from the plantain family.
Blue mist penstemon flowers from late spring to mid-summer. The tubular bell-shaped flowers come in shades of blue or purple and are a vital nectar source for native bumblebees.
46. Chocolate Flower (Berlandiera lyrata)
Chocolate flowers (Berlandiera lyrata) are members of the Aster family. These beauties are indigenous to Colorado and other central and southwestern states. Chocolate flowers are also known as lyreleaf greeneyes because their yellow flowers have green central discs that resemble green eyes.
In colder regions, chocolate flowers bloom from spring until the first frost. In warmer frost-free areas, these flowers can bloom throughout the year. The flowers bloom at night and close up by midday.
47. Gray Rabbitbrush (Ericameria nauseosus)
Gray rabbitbrush (Ericameria nauseosus) is a perennial shrub from the Aster family. It’s also known as the rubber rabbitbrush and prefers arid soils in western parts of North America. Each shrub has grayish-green foliage and rubbery stems that can reach up to 8 meters tall.
Gray rabbitbrush produces pungent flower heads that each support five yellow tubular flowers. These blooms are disc-shaped like other Asters. The flowering season runs from August to October.
48. Nodding Onion (Allium cernuum)
Nodding onion (Allium cernuum) is a perennial type of Allium found across much of North America. Also known as lady’s leek, nodding onion belongs to the amaryllis family (Amaryllidaceae) and has a faint onion-like scent.
Nodding onion flower stalks can reach up to 2 feet tall. These are topped by a cluster of tiny pink or white flowers from June to August. The stalks bend down like a shepherd’s crook, causing the flower heads to nod.
49. Rocky Mountain Penstemon (Penstemon strictus)
Rocky Mountain penstemon (Penstemon strictus) is a Penstemon species indigenous to parts of Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and Wyoming. It grows in open areas of pine-juniper or spruce-aspen forests. It’s sometimes called Rocky Mountain beardtongue.
Rocky Mountain penstemon has vivid blue flowers with two upper petals that look like a porch roof. As a result, the Rocky Mountain penstemon is sometimes known as the porch penstemon. It flowers from late spring to early summer.
50. Sweet Sand-verbena (Abronia fragrans)
Sweet sand-verbena (Abronia fragrans) is a beautiful member of the sand-verbena genus. It belongs to the four o’clock family (Nyctaginaceae) and is indigenous to America’s western plains and prairies.
These herbaceous perennials produce flower stems that can reach up to 3 feet tall. Sweet sand-verbena is known as prairie snowball thanks to the balls of tiny white flowers that sit at the top of each stem. These flower from March to September and have a sweet scent.
Native Colorado Flowers FAQs:
What is the Colorado State Flower?
The Colorado State Flower is Colorado blue columbine (Aquilegia caerulea). This wildflower has sky blue and white flowers with a flowering season from April to July.
Is it illegal to pick wildflowers in Colorado?
It is illegal to pick wildflowers in Colorado’s State Parks or to pick the state flower, Colorado blue columbine, from public lands. It’s also illegal to pick rare wildflower species that are protected.
Are there wildflowers throughout Colorado?
Wildflowers can be found throughout Colorado in most habitats. Various wildflowers grow across Colorado, from the slopes of the Rocky Mountains to the open prairies of the Great Plains.
How many species of wildflowers are there in Colorado?
Colorado boasts thousands of wildflower species. These range from common species like bee balm (Monarda fistulosa) to rare species like the grand mesa penstemon (Penstemon mensarum).
Are there meadows in Colorado?
Colorado has a swathe of meadow habitats, including alpine meadows in the Rocky Mountains. Many of these can be enjoyed on wildflower hikes.
Native Colorado Flowers – The Final Word
Colorado is home to an astounding range of stunning wildflower species. Many of these wildflowers thrive in Colorado’s prairies or alpine meadows in the Rocky Mountains. Some of the most incredible Colorado flowers include the Colorado blue columbine – the official state flower.
Andrew is the Editorial Director at Petal Republic. He holds a BSc degree in Plant Sciences and has trained professionally at leading floristry schools in London and Paris. In amongst overseeing a global editorial team, Andrew's a passionate content creator around all things flowers, floral design, gardening, and houseplants.