YARROW Achillea millefolium This flower, a perennial
herb, can easily be distinguished by its flat top, small white
flowers and aromatic fernlike leaves. HABITAT/RANGE: Yarrow
is found throughout the Northern Hemisphere and can flourish
and prosper in a variety of environments and habitats, including
alleys, sagebrush plains, and alpine tundra. Blooms from April
to September. FACTS/ USES: The generic name, Achillea, is in honor of Achilles, the greatest warrior among the Greeks
at Troy and the slayer of Hector. He is credited with first
using yarrow as a poultice to cure the wounds of soldiers injured
in battle. The odor of its crushed leaves is one of the most
outstanding characteristics of yarrow. The leaves when dried
and crushed have a strong, aromatic minty smell and are frequently
used as a flavoring for tea.
BURDOCK Arctium minus This biennial herb produces
a rosette of large, wavy, thick, petioled, cordate leaves its
first year. During the second year, a robust, highly branched,
hairy stalk ascends two to six feet from a large, fleshy taproot.
The inflorescence is a raceme with clusters of flower heads that
are composed of small red-violet disk flowers surrounded by numerous
hooked bracts, which later mature to a round bur. This species
is very similar to common cocklebur (Xanthium strumarium), except it is an annual, a native, the leaves are rough and sharp,
not as velvety and smooth, and the burs are longer and not as
round. HABITAT/RANGE: As a European introduction, it has spread
throughout North America and is found on moist pastures, roadsides
and ditch banks. It grows from sea level to low mountain elevations.
Flowers July to September. FACTS/ USES: The specific name means
|HEARTLEAF ARNICA Arnica cordifolia A sunflower-like plant comprised
of 10-15 yellow ray and numerous tiny disk flowers in a head often
more than two inches wide. The plants have characteristic heart-shaped,
toothed, and opposite leaves on a stem eight to 20 inches high.
HABITAT/RANGE: A common wildflower growing in patches in moist
shaded woods and ascending to timberline, there are 14 species
of arnica throughout the West. Heartleaf amica blooms from May
to late July. FACTS/USES: The Latin name, cordifolia, is derived
from cordis- of the heart, and folia -leaves.
It is descriptive of the leaf shape and not, as once believed,
a medicine for the heart. It is, however, an important medicinal
plant. Drugs are prepared from plant extracts and administered
to produce a rise in body temperature or cause a mild fever.
SAGEBRUSH Artemisia tridentata Big sagebrush
is the most familiar and widespread shrub in the West. This plant
is distinguished easily by its large, straplike, silver-green,
three-toothed leaves. It can attain a height of one to seven feet,
with the tops projecting spikelike, yellowish, flowering heads.
The flowers are small, numerous and inconspicuous. HABITAT/RANGE:
It grows on a variety of soils but is intolerant of alkali and
inhabits dry plains and hills to timberline. It is distributed
widely from British Columbia to North Dakota, New Mexico and California.
Flowers late summer and early fall. FACTS/USES: The specific name
means three-toothed. This species is not the cooking herb, which
is common garden sage (Salvia officinalis), a member
of the mint family. Wildlife relish this shrub, but if it is consumed
by livestock, the volatile oils can kill digesting microorganisms
within their rumen.
ASTER Aster alpigenus Alpine aster is a small, graceful
flower arising from a simple or slightly branched taproot, and
the previous year's vegetation often can be found around its base.
Slender, entire margined leaves and several unbranched stems supporting
solitary flowering heads arise from this base. The flower heads
are comprised of violet or lavender ray flowers with yellow disk
flowers in the center. HABITAT/RANGE: Inhabits open, moist meadows
at subalpine and alpine habitats and often is found among short,
cropped grasses and sedges. Limited in distribution to the central
region of the Rocky Mountains, from eastern Oregon to Montana
and Wyoming. FACTS/USES: The genus name, Aster, is derived
from the Greek word for star. The species name means alpine.
ASTER Aster conspicuus Showy aster is an erect, leafy,
perennial herb ascending from creeping rootstocks and growing
up to three feet tall. The stem leaves somewhat clasp the stem
and are large and elliptic, with sharply toothed margins. Leaves
at the middle of the stem usually are the largest. The flower
heads are comprised of 12 to 35 violet or purple ray flowers and
yellow disk flowers. The flower heads are individually borne on
long stalks and form a flat-topped inflorescence. HABITAT/RANGE:
It inhabits moist, rich soils of open woods and often is associated
with aspen, conifer stands and old burn areas. It is distributed
from the Yukon Territory, British Columbia to Saskatchewan, south
to South Dakota, Wyoming and Oregon. Flowers from mid-July to
early fall. FACTS/USES: The specific name means conspicuous or
|THICKSTEM ASTER Aster integrifolius Thickstem aster is a leafy,
perennial forb ascending eight to 20 inches from a stout rootstock.
The reddish stems are somewhat glabrous at the base and glandular-hairy
at the top into the inflorescence. Basal leaves are large, narrow,
lance-shaped, entire, wavy and taper to a winged stalk, while
the upper leaves are oblong, stalkless and somewhat clasp the
stem. The flower heads clustered at the end of the stem have a
ragged appearance. Each flower head has 10 to 27 deep bluish-purple
ray flowers with a small center of yellow disk flowers. HABITAT/RANGE:
This species prefers dry meadows, hillsides and open woods of
mid-elevations and often is associated with goldenrod and lupine.
It is well-distributed from Washington to Montana, south to Colorado
and California. Flowers mid-July through fall. FACTS/USES: The
specific name means entire-leaved.
|ARROWLEAF BALSAMROOT Balsamorhiza sagittata Arrowleaf
balsamroot is a robust, perennial herb that attains a height of
eight to 36 inches. It is recognized easily by its large, showy,
yellow flower heads and silvery-green, arrow-shaped leaves. HABITAT/RANGE:
It prefers well-drained soils, southern exposures and open ridges
of foothills to mid-mountain elevations. This species is well-distributed
from British Columbia to Saskatchewan, south to Colorado and central
California, but east of the Cascade Mountains. Blooms May to early
July. FACTS/USES: The specific name means arrow-like, referring
to the leaf shape. The common and generic name is derived from
its thick, resinous (balsam) roots (rhiza). The
roasted seeds can be ground into a flour, called pinole. The Nez
Perce Indians were known to roast and grind the seeds, which they
then formed into little balls by adding grease.
|NODDING BEGGARS-TICK Bidens cemua Nodding beggars-tick has
bright yellow flower heads one to two inches in diameter with
as many as 12 ray flowers. There are two distinct rows of green
involucral bracts. One main distinguishing characteristic is the
leaves, which are opposite, lanceolate, sharply toothed and may
clasp or join around the stem. Another characteristic is the seeds,
which are small and flattened with two projecting spines covered
with backward-pointing barbs. HABITAT/RANGE: This species often
is found along the edges of ponds or other wet, boggy soils of
low to mid-mountain elevations. It is distributed widely throughout
North America from British Columbia to New Brunswick, south to
North Carolina, Missouri, New Mexico and California. Flowers July
to September. FACTS/USES: The Latin generic name means two teeth
and refers to the spines. The specific name means drooping or
THISTLE Carduus nutans This large, branching
biennial reaches a height of one to nine feet. The leaves are
deeply lobed and jagged, with sharp spines. The leaf stems are
winged (decurrent) and generally run down the stalk. The large,
two- to three-inch-wide, deep lavender, rayless heads nod on the
stem. The involucral bracts are conspicuous, sharp and stiff,
with the lower ones bent back. HABITAT/RANGE: Introduced from
Eurasia, it is found sparingly throughout the United States and
into Canada. It establishes easily on disturbed sites, especially
along roads. A summer and fall bloomer. FACTS/USES: The generic
name, Carduus, is the Latin word for thistle. The specific
name, nutans, means nodding, and refers to the nodding
or drooping heads. The large and colorful heads are attractants
for pollinating insects and small animals.
KNAPWEED Centaurea maculosa Knapweed is a biennial
herb or short-lived perennial that produces a rosette of long,
deeply pinnate leaves. In its second year, the taproot sends up
a branching leafy stem one to three feet tall. The numerous pinkish
or purple flower heads are arranged at the ends of terminal and
branching stems. The ray flowers are finely and narrowly segmented,
and the involucral bracts have dark, finely fringed tips. HABITAT/
RANGE: This plant prefers dry, gravelly or sandy soils of disturbed
sites, especially along roadsides and overgrazed pastures. Introduced
and naturalized from Europe, it has established throughout western
North America. Flowers through the summer into fall. FACTS/USES:
The specific name means spotted. Knapweed is an aggressive, competitive
plant, establishing quickly on disturbed sites and producing a
chemical to inhibit surrounding plants.
MAIDEN Chaenactis alpina Dusty maiden is a perennial,
taprooted herb. The white or pinkish flower heads lack ray flowers;
instead, they are comprised of showy, tubular disk flowers, giving
the appearance of ray flowers. The four- to 18-inch stem is openly
branched, with a flower head terminating at the end of each branch.
The stem also is very leafy and bears deeply dissected, fernlike
leaves that are lightly woolly with a dusty look. Larger leaves
form a rosette at the base. This species could be confused with
yarrow (Achillea millefolium), which does have ray
flowers. HABITAT/RANGE: Commonly grows on dry, gravelly or sandy
soils of mountain ridges, hillsides and disturbed sites of mid-mountain
to alpine elevations. Distributed from British Columbia to Montana,
south to New Mexico and California, it flowers through the summer.
FACTS/USES: The specific name honors botanist David Douglas.
THISTLE Cirsium scariosum Elk thistle has large,
spiny, grayish-green leaves attached to a thick stalk, which may
stand anywhere from four inches to four feet tall. The light lavender
flowers are hidden and clumped among the foliage near the top.
HABITAT/RANGE: Prefers meadows and other moist soils from foothills
to mountain and subalpine zones. It is a common plant from British
Columbia to Saskatchewan south to New Mexico and California. Blooms
June to early August. FACTS/USES: Elk thistle, also know as Everts'
thistle, saved the life of Truman Everts in Yellowstone National
Park in 1870. Everts, an explorer, became separated from his group
and his horse for 37 days. Because a botanist had remarked that
the root of this plant was edible and nutritious, it was the only
plant he knew was safe to eat, and he subsisted on the raw root.
THISTLE Cirsium vuigare This biennial herb reproduces
by seeds. The first year, a rosette of coarsely toothed, lanceolate
leaves appears. By the second year, a stout one- to six-foot stalk
arises from the taproot. The leaves are deeply cut with long,
needle-pointed spines, and the upper surface of the leaf is covered
with short, stiff hairs. The flower heads, deep-purple to rose-colored,
are one to two inches wide. HABITAT/RANGE: Bull thistle is an
introduced and naturalized plant from Eurasia, now found throughout
the United States and north into Canada, from British Columbia
to Newfoundland. An invader of pastures and other disturbed sites,
it is a late summer and early fall bloomer. FACTS/USES: The generic
name, Cirsium, is derived from the Greek word kirsos, which means a swollen vein for which thistles were used as a remedy.
FLEABANE Erigeron spec/osus As its common name implies,
this is one of the showiest, most colorful and widespread fleabanes
of the West. One to several flower heads are borne on short stalks
arising from leaf axils and forming a somewhat flat-topped arrangement.
Each flower head is one to two inches in diameter and composed
of yellow, tubular disk flowers and narrow, linear, lilac to bluish-purple
ray flowers. The involucral bracts are in two rows, narrow and
finely granular. The leafy stems are erect and usually one to
three feet tall. Leaves are alternate, entire with conspicuous
hairs along the margin, and the upper leaves somewhat clasp the
stem. HABITAT/RANGE: Showy fleabane inhabits moist, open meadows,
woods and burned sites of coniferous forests. Distributed from
British Columbia to Alberta, south to New Mexico and California.
Blooms June to August. FACTS/USES: The specific name means showy
SUNFLOWER Eriophyllum lanatum This species is
a small, usually clumped, perennial herb with golden-yellow flower
heads. The erect stems, four to 24 inches tall, are leafy and
covered with dense, white, woolly hairs, giving the plant a gray
appearance. Each stem is branched and bears a flower head of eight
to 12 broad, yellow ray flowers and yellow disk flowers. The fruit
is a slender, four-angled achene. HABITAT/RANGE: Woolly sunflower
prefers dry, open, often sandy or gravelly soils of ridges or
roadsides of foothills to mountain slopes. It typically occurs
from British Columbia to Western Montana, south to Utah and southern
California. Flowers May through July. FACTS/USES: The generic
name is derived from the Greek words erion, forwool, and phyllon, for foliage, and refers to the dense, gray, woolly
stems and leaves. The specific name also means woolly.
GOLDENROD Solidago missouriensis Missouri goldenrod
is an erect, perennial herb ascending eight to 36 inches from
a well-developed creeping rhizome. The small, yellow flower heads
are arranged on one side of the spreading branches in a densely
clustered inflorescence. Each flower head contains ray and disk
flowers, usually with eight-or occasionally up to 13-ray flowers.
The lanceolate, smooth and entire leaves are arranged alternately
along the stem. HABITAT/RANGE: It prefers dry, often gravelly,
open sites of plains, valley and high-mountain elevations. It
is a Great Plains dweller distributed from southern British Columbia
to Wisconsin, south to Missouri, Oklahoma, and Arizona. Flowers
July to September. FACTS/USES: The generic name is derived from
the Latin names solidusand ago, meaning to make
whole, and refers to its medicinal healing properties.