The Flowers of Yellowstone National Park – 2014

At long last I have identified as many of the flowers of Yellowstone National Park I took photos of over the course of the summer as my reference material will allow.  There were a few I just could not get a clue for, so you won’t be seeing them here.  There were a few others that I was able to narrow down to a couple of choices and will present here with both possible names.
I am sure I have made a mistake here or there, but I assure you I have done the best I can with the five reference documents I routinely use plus the occasional web search now and again.  For the record for most of my flower photography I try to take several images of the same flower in order to get all the parts included among the photos to give myself a fighting chance at identification.  Sometimes the blossoms just aren’t enough evidence.  The leaf shape and or the length of the stem sometimes make a huge difference in the identification process.  As will be seen towards the end, there was a flower I got a bit in a hurry with while photographing.  I didn’t get images of the leaves and when I tried to identify it I came against a wall as there were two species with essentially identical blossoms but quite different leaves.  Another of the many lessons learned this summer.
There are a lot of photos to follow, so I will let the images do most of the talking from here on out.  I am posting them in chronological order to give the reader an idea of when each flower was present.
These first two images are Arrow Leaf Balsam Root.  These flowers blanket much of the park from June and well into July and this year all the way to early August.
 
Many-flowered Phlox
Blue Clematis (Western Blue Virgin’s Bowers)  
                   
 
All the previous images were made at Undine Falls in early June.
Rocky Mountain Iris
Silky Phacelia (Silky Scorpianweed)
Sticky Geranium
Low Larkspur (Little Larkspur)
                                       Alpine Forget-me-not
It seemed to me that we had more flowers both variety and numbers in the campground this summer.  Over a few days period I walked around the campground and tried to photograph samples of the different species present.
Indian Paintbrush at Indian Creek Campground July 7
Wyoming State Flower
Many-flowered Stickseed
Many-flowered Stickseed
Sulfur Buckwheat (Sulfur Flower)
Small-flowered Penstemon
Wedgeleaf or Slender Cinquefoil
Goatsbeard; Yellow Salisfy . When these flowers go to seed they form baseball
sized seed heads that look like dandelion seed heads on steroids
Common Yarrow
Longleaf Phlox
Woodland Strawberry
Elk Thistle
Elk Thistle
This is either a Tapertip Onion or a Short-styled
Onion.  Very small blossom. 
Paintbrush
Mountain or False Dandelion
       Probably Valerian Family, possibly Sitka Valerian
Rosy Pussytoes
Silvery Lupine
This plant grew to about three to three and a half feet tall.  The blossoms were quarter sized.  In the entire campground there was but one plant and it was in a disturbed area.  None of the reference documents I have shows this flower, nor did it appear in the toxic invasives guide provided by the park service
There was a period when there were more flower species in camp than campers.  Or at least it seemed that way.
Now, back to the field.
Silvery Lupine at LeHardy Rapids July 
Elephant Head found in the Hayden Valley.  From a distance these flowers seem to have little detail.  Up close you can see that each blossom is shaped like an elephant head.
Yellow Columbine along the Chittendon Road on Mount Washburn on July 13
Low Larkspur
      Low Hawksbeard
Lewis Monkeyflower
Streamside Bluebell – This was the best shot  
I could get.  I think I was a little late in the season
for these delicate blossoms
 Sticky Cinqefoil
Either One flower Helianthella or Mules Ear Wyethia

The only way I could have been able to tell these to species apart had been by the leaves.  I got in a hurry getting these shots and didn’t get an in focus image of the leaves.  Both flowers are abundant in the park, so the identity will remain a mystery until I see them again.

The preceding group of photos were taken on July 17 along the road on Dunraven Pass.
 
 
Roundleaf Harebell growing from cracks in boulders just inside the East Entrance.
The bells on these flowers are probably no more than a half inch in diameter.
Fireweed.  I am surprised I didn’t get any better photos of this great flower.
Okay, this isn’t a flower, but I saw this butterfly while taking flower pictures and it kept posing for me.  I do not know for sure what the species is, so I have posted it on iNaturalist in hopes of getting an accurate identification.  The species that makes sense from a photo comparison is not native to this country.  So, we will see!
Snowy Flebane – These delicate little flowers seemed to be everywhere at higher elevations.  They grow in small clumps, more as ground cover.
Well, that is about it.  I had to leave a few in the bucket for lack of a positive identification.  I left that mystery plant in hoping someone might be able to help me identify it.  The others I was unable to identify could possibly been identifiable had I taken better photos of the entire plant.  The lessons just keep coming.
We are rapidly approaching the end of our season.  I have a fair collection of elk photos that may show up in a final blog of the season of time allows.
I hope you have enjoyed these images and the stories I have told over the summer.  Stay tuned, as we have travel plans for the fall and winter that could generate another post.

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