Spring is for wildflowers

Apr 01, 2015
Spring in the high desert is a tentative thing: sun and warm temperatures one day followed by snow the next. The only sure sign that spring is really here is the arrival of wildflowers at our Preserves.


Spring in the high desert is a tentative thing: sun and warm temperatures one day followed by snow the next. The only sure sign that spring is really here is the arrival of wildflowers.

Central Oregon, with its deserts and high mountain meadows, is chock full of wildflowers—so many that flower enthusiasts often carry 3-4 books for identification. While we certainly can’t list them all here, we can share ten of our favorites found at Land Trust Preserves. Some are common, others worth the wander. Find them on your own or on a guided Land Trust wildflower hike:

 MAW_goldfields_WC

Goldfields
, Crocidium multicaule.
One of our very first wildflowers of the season! You’ll find these dime size flowers carpeting the sagebrush flats with merry yellow faces that follow the sun. Single flower with 8 rays ¼-½ inch long on a delicate stem up to 6 inches tall. Blooms: March-April at Camp Polk Meadow Preserve, Indian Ford Meadow Preserve, and Whychus Canyon Preserve.
 LT. Sandlily_CPM

Sand lily,
Leucocrinum montanum.
Another early bloomer that often looks like tissues scattered on the ground. Find sand lilies in sagebrush flats and pine forests growing in bunches with 4-8 white flowers per bunch. Each flower has 6 lance-shaped petals and grows on a short stalk blooming above a rosette of 4-8 inch flat linear leaves. Blooms: April-May at Camp Polk Meadow Preserve, Indian Ford Meadow Preserve, and Whychus Canyon Preserve.
 Al St John_Bitterroot

Bitterroot
, Lewisia rediviva.
A stunning desert wildflower growing in rocky, open soils. White to pink flowers burst from rosettes on the ground with no stem. Named after Meriwether Lewis whose samples grew 2 years after collecting (rediviva = restored to life)! Blooms: May at Whychus Canyon Preserve.
 
Darlene_Ashley_Yarrow

Yarrow
, Achillea millefolium.
A widespread native wildflower at home in sagebrush meadows and pine forests. Leaves are feathery and the flowers grow on tall stems into an umbrella-like cluster. Each white flower has 3-5 rays surrounding a yellow center. Blooms: April-September at Camp Polk Meadow Preserve, Indian Ford Meadow Preserve, Metolius Preserve and Whychus Canyon Preserve.
TR.arrowleaf balsamroot 

Arrowleaf balsamroot
, Balsamorhiza sagittata.
One of our showiest wildflowers lighting up our hillsides with their sunny disk-like faces.  Balsamroot grows in clumps with large widely triangular leaves that have heart-shaped bases. Yellow flowers are 2½-4 inches wide on 1-3 foot tall stems. Blooms: May-June at Camp Polk Meadow Preserve, Indian Ford Meadow Preserve, Metolius Preserve and Whychus Canyon Preserve.
 LT. Spotted mountain bells

Spotted mountain bells
, Fritillaria atropurpurea.
A beautifully delicate native lily, found in forests near openings. Brownish bell shaped flowers have yellow-red spots and grow on stalks 5-25 inches tall. This uncommon wildflower takes a keen eye to find! Blooms: June at the Metolius Preserve.  
 CarolBishop_columbine

Red columbine
, Aquilegia formsa.
A stunningly delicate native columbine that grows in moist areas that are open or partly shaded. Drooping bright red and yellow flowers grow on stalks up to 4 feet tall. Hummingbirds and butterflies love columbine nectar. Blooms: May-July at Camp Polk Meadow PreserveMetolius Preserve and Whychus Canyon Preserve.
 LT. Mariposa lily

Mariposa lily
, Calochortus macrocarpus.
A sagebrush jewel that blooms intensely lavender on tall 8-23 inch stems. Several large 2-3 inch flowers can be found on a stem. Mariposa is Spanish for butterfly, while the genus is Greek for kalo, ‘beautiful,’ and chortos, ‘grass.’ Blooms: June-July at Whychus Canyon Preserve.
 MAW_scarlet gilia

Scarlet gilia
, Ipomopsis aggregata.
Trumpet-shaped, bright red flowers on stems up to 3 feet tall. Flower color may vary from scarlet, speckled with white, to pale pink speckled with red. Grows in dry soils in woodland openings and meadows. Blooms: June-August at Camp Polk Meadow PreserveMetolius Preserve and Whychus Canyon Preserve.
 MAW_washington lily

Washington lily
, Lilium washingtonianum.
This native wildflower seems like it came straight from the flower shop with its classic lily shape, smell, and size! Large white to pink flowers on tall, 2-8 foot, stems. Grows in dry woodlands and is named for Martha Washington. Blooms: June-July at the Metolius Preserve.

Disclaimer: While we’ve done our best to be accurate, bloom times are different every year due to weather, location, site conditions and more. Learn more about our native wildflowers on a guided Land Trust hike.