Colorado Flower Identification


Colorado flowers are abundant and varied and can be identified by their geographic location. According to the Colorado State University Extension Office, Colorado has five life zones: Alpine, Montane, Foothills, Upper Sonoran and Plains. Within each of these life zones are distinctive flowers that thrive in Colorado's assorted climates and elevations.

Plains Zone

In the Plains zone, elevations are less than 5,500 feet and flowers survive windy and dry conditions. In this zone, flowers that grow in well-drained soil and drier temperatures are abundant. Asters are an herbaceous perennial that are well-suited to this zone's lower elevations. Prairie Zinnia has paper-like petals and they bloom profusely in well-drained soil. Purple Prairie Clover, with cylindrical heads, and Prairie Coneflower, a yellow flower with drooping petals, are also common in this area.

Upper Sonoran Zone

Often called the semi-desert zone, this warm, drought-prone area is home to Four O'clock, a trumpet-shaped flower that blooms in the summer and prefers lower elevations. In this zone, with elevations below 7,000 feet, Purple Poppy Mallow thrives. The Poppy Mallow is a ground cover with a long bloom time that is partial to heat. Other flowers that grow readily in this climate are Apache Plume and Desert Paintbrush which prefer dry, hot conditions

Foothills Zone

A variety of heat-tolerant plants grow in the Foothills zone where elevations range from 5,500 to 8,000 feet. This zone is not as dry as the Plains and Upper Sonoran but is still warm in the summer. Stonecrop, a yellow flower that grows around rocks and in gravel, is abundant in this zone. Goldenrod, with its small yellow flowers and Larkspur are partial to this warm area and can be found in meadows and on the sides of mountains.

Montane Zone

The Montane zone's elevation ranges from 8,000 to 10,000 feet. In this zone, where the air is cooler and the forests are dense, the Colorado state flower grows. Colorado's state flower, the Rocky Mountain Columbine, is blue and white and blooms in May or June. Violets are tiny blue or purple flowers that grow in the aspen forests of the Montane zone and can spread over large areas. Sticky geraniums, a purple flower, are also common here.

Alpine Zone

The Alpine zone is the highest zone in Colorado with elevations starting at 11,500 feet. This zone is marked by cold and wind and an absence of trees in areas above timberline. Small flowering plants are common here in the summer months of July to September. An Alpine-friendly flower is the Alpine Lousewort, a member of the Snapdragon family, with light yellow flowers. Bluebells also grow here along with Alpine Phlox and Buttercups.

Keywords: mountain flowers, Rocky Mountain Columbine, Heat tolerant plants, colorado plants

About this Author

Based in the foothills near Golden, Colo., Mel Primmer started writing professionally in 2010. Her current writing experience includes educational profiles for Remilon, LLC and travel articles for eHow. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from the University of Colorado.