Wildflowers grow in profusion in Yellowstone, providing one of the joys of short hikes throughout the area, especially between mid June and mid August. Some flowers prefer the warm steamy areas of the geyser basins, others thrive on the relatively dry slopes of mountains, and still others are most easily found in meadows or along streams.
At left, a meadow just above Mammoth Hot Springs village turns yellow with Helianthella or little sunflower.
Tall fireweed was incredibly prolific in the first years after Yellowstone’s 1988 fires. The name comes to its being the first plant to bloom following a fire, but it could also apply to the orange and red colors it turns in the autumn.
The yellow flower above center is lance-leaved stonecrop, a succulent herb. This one was growing not far from Old Faithful Geyser.
Lupine (above right) grows everywhere in and around Yellowstone. Here the purple lupine flowers share space with agoseris, or mountain dandelion. In late summer, lupine develops alkaloids that are poisonous to livestock.You have to be lucky to see a field of bear grass (right), because it flowers rarely— perhaps only once in seven years. The stalks are sometimes as tall as five feet, and the leaves are stiff and grass-like.
The bear grass flowers in this picture were blooming just outside Yellowstone’s southern boundary, near Grassy Lake Reservoir.
CREDITS: All photos on this page are by Bruno Giletti.
ON THIS WEBSITE: You can read about more wildflowers in another nugget.
IN THE GUIDEBOOK: On what approach road to the park do you see summer’s most outstanding alpine wildflower display? Answer on pages 191–92 of the fifth edition.
Copyright Janet Chapple. All Rights Reserved.