“The Yellowstone is a wild-flower garden. Wander where you will, you have the ever-new charm, the finishing touch, the ever-refreshing radiance of wild flowers.”
–Enos Mills, 1917
Camping in or near Yellowstone National Park offers the perfect opportunity to explore it’s multitude of wildflowers. Wildflowers can be found anywhere at different times of the year. Temperature, precipitation, soil type, elevation, and even events such as wildfires determine the types of blooms you can encounter.
These are a few of my favorites:
The Yellow Violet can be found from May to June in moist meadow areas, park wide. It is a member of the Violacea (Violet) family. The leaves are generally heart-shaped and covered with soft hairs. The flowers are yellow, 5-parted and 1′-1 11/2′ wide.
The Spring Beauty can be found from April to June, park wide. It is a member of the Purslane family. The stem is light green or slightly reddish green. Each flower is up to 1/2″ across when fully open and has 5 petals, which are white with fine pink stripes. The flowers open up on warm sunny days and are closed on cloudy days and at night.
(Indian) Paintbrush, which is the Wyoming state flower, can be found from June to August, park wide. It is part of the Figwort family. Many Paintbrush are actually parasitic, relying on other plants to grow. The plant has a cluster of stems that grow upward from the base. The true flowers of the plant are concealed, but it has bright red flower-like bracts (a modified leaf) that are visible.
Remember wildflowers are important to the ecology of Yellowstone; animals, birds, and insects rely on them for food. With that in mind, please don’t pick the flowers, capture them on film and take them with you that way.