Spotted Coralroot (Corallorhiza maculata)

Wildflowers of Gregory and Long Canyons

Spotted Coralroot
Spotted Coralroot (Corallorhiza maculata), a wild orchid, Gregory and Long Canyons, Boulder, Colorado, USA. May 20, 2012.

Earlier this spring I went on a bird and butterfly survey led by Stephen R. Jones, co-author with Janet Chu of Butterflies of the Colorado Front Range. We ambled through upper Gregory Canyon and Long Canyon, above Boulder in Boulder County Open Space & Mountain Parks. Besides birds and butterflies, we saw assorted other insects, but today’s post is about wildflowers.

I think my favorite plant on the trip was the Spotted Coralroot (Corallorhiza maculata) above. Although I know better, I always associate orchids with the often larger, showier varities of the tropics, and forget the shy North American varieties, which is a shame. Orchids are probably my favorite group of plants–they’re amazingly diverse (one of the two largest families of flowering plants), and have evolved an incredible range of adaptations and relationships with animals, allowing them to occupy almost every available habitat. Coralroot orchids (genus Corallorhiza), for example, have no leaves. Instead they wrap around the roots of trees and obtain nutrients from symbiotic fungi.

I used to be a lot more into plants than I am now, and I probably should do something about that. After all, like insects, plants are everywhere and available to look at in almost all seasons–but unlike insects, they hold still. (They are also more likely to kill you, but that’s primarily a reason not to eat strange plants.)

So to rectify my tragic tendency to ignore plants, and give my insect-phobic friends something safe to look at, have some spring wildflowers of Colorado. They’re not as awesome as the orchid, but they’re still pretty great.

I think this may be Heart-Leaved Arnica (Arnica cordifolia):

Arnica sp.?

Larkspur (Delphinium sp.):

Larkspur (Delphinium sp.)

Creeping Oregon-grape (Mahonia repens):

Creeping Oregon-grape (Mahonia repens)

Lots of Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana) in bloom:

Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana)

Western Wallflower (Erysimum asperum) seemed to be fairly popular with butterflies, although I’m saving that photo for the butterfly post:

Western Wallflower (Erysimum asperum)

This might be Mountain Goldenbean (Themopsis montana):

Mountain Goldenbean (Thermopsis montana)

And I’ll finish with my second-favorite flower, something I’ve always wanted to see, the Pretty Shootingstar (Dodecatheon pulchellum). Depth of field on these is a pain.

Pretty Shootingstar (Dodecatheon pulchellum)

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