All park resources, including wildflowers, are protected. It is illegal to pick flowers and seeds, or remove plants from the park.
Red & Orange Flowers
Scientific Name:Penstemon utahensis Size (height): 6–24 in (15.2–61 cm) Habitat: Sandy soils in mixed desert scrub, blackbrush, and pinyon juniper communities. Flowering Season: April–June Range: Utah, Nevada, California Location in park: Common in the central and southern portions of the park including the Hickman Bridge trail, the south end of the Scenic Drive, in Grand Wash, and in Capitol Gorge.
Description: The Utah penstemon is a perennial herb with tall, erect stems and thick lance-shaped leaves. Basal leaves are larger and more numerous than the upper leaves. Its tubular flowers are bright red to red-pink in color and grow in an elongated spike.
Desert Indian Paintbrush
Scientific Name:Castilleja chromosa Size (height): 4–22 in (10.2–55.9 cm) Habitat: Sandy soils in sagebrush and pinyon juniper woodlands Flowering Season: April–June Range: Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon, Wyoming, British Columbia Location in park: Common in the central and southern areas of the park including along the Notom Road, in Cohab Canyon, Grand Wash, and Capitol Gorge.
Description: Indian paintbrush is a perennial herb with grayish-green stems covered with small hairs. It has brilliant red to orange floral bracts, each with five narrow lobes. Indian paintbrushes are partial root parasites, attaching their roots to roots of other plants and taking nutrients from their host. Sagebrush is a typical host plant.
Scientific name:Sphaeralcea coccinea Size (height): Up to 18 in (46 cm) Habitat: mixed desert scrub, sagebrush communities, pinyon-juniper woodland, and ponderosa pine forests Flowering season: mid-April–October Range: Utah and the Southwest, up to Canada Location in park: Widespread throughout the park, especially in Fruita and along State Route 24.
Description: This flower is one of the earliest blooming in Capitol Reef. It's bright orange flowers are about 1/2 inch (2.5 cm) wide and its leaves are deeply lobed, usually with 3 to 5 lobes per leaf. It has historically been used for medicinal purposes by native cultures.
Scientific Name:Cryptantha flava Size (height): 5–15 in (12.7–38.1 cm) Habitat: Saltbush scrub, mixed desert scrub, pinyon juniper woodlands Flowering Season: April–July Range: Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, Arizona Location in park: Common throughout the park, typically on hillsides and uplands of clay soils. It can be seen along the Scenic Drive, the Hickman Bridge Trail, in Grand Wash, and in Capitol Gorge.
Description: Yellow catspaw is a perennial herb with numerous stems and narrow leaves covered with stiff hairs on the underside. It has yellow flowers that grow in narrow clusters 2–8 in (5.1–20.3 cm) long. Cryptantha, the genus name, means "hidden flower."
Naked Stem Sunrays
Scientific Name:Enceliopsis nudicaulis Size (height): up to 20 in (50.8 cm) Habitat: Clay or gypsiferous soils in blackbrush, mixed desert scrub, and pinyon juniper communities Flowering Season: mid-April–July Range: Utah, Nevada, Arizona, California Location in park: Common in the central portion of the park especially along the Scenic Drive and along State Route 24, west of the visitor center.
Description: Naked stem sunray is a perennial herb with long, gray-green stems that each support a solitary yellow flower head about 2 in (5 cm) wide. The leaves, which are all basal, are round to oval shaped and up to 3 in (7.6 cm) long and equally wide. The species name, nudicaulis, refers to the long bare stems on this plant.
Scientific name: Stanleya pinnata Size (height): 24-36 in (61-91 cm), but up to 60 in (5 ft, 152 cm) Habitat: Mix desert scrub, sagebrush, and pinyon-juniper forest Flowering season: May to November Range: Utah and the southwest, up to North Dakota Location in park: Common in the park. Often in Moenkopi Formation along Utah State Route 24 and the Scenic Drive. Description: Tall plant, with bright yellow flowers that start blooming from the bottom up, until the whole stalk is covered in flowers.
Scientific name:Eriogonum inflatum Size (height): 1–2 feet (30.5–61 cm) tall Habitat: Sandy and clay soils in mixed desert scrub, saltbush, rabbitbrush, grassland, and pinyon-juniper woodland communities. Flowering season: May–August Range: Utah, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico Location in park: Common throughout the park.
Description: This unique member of the buckwheat family has an inflated stem, giving it part of its scientific name, “inflatum.” Tiny yellow flowers top the stems in the spring. In fall, the stems will turn from green to a dark red, and then a pale yellow as the plant dries. Over the years, scientists have had different ideas about what causes the stem to inflate. Early hypotheses included insects laying eggs inside and creating galls. Recently, scientists suggest that the stem does most of the photosynthesis for the plant, since it has a larger surface area than the small round leaves at the base of the plant. The stem seems to be a reservoir for carbon dioxide, and the waxy surface of the stem helps prevent water loss through transpiration.
Scientific name:Astragalus praelongus Size (height): 4–36 in (10–91 cm) Habitat: Clay soils, such as Moenkopi and Chinle formations, and Mancos Shale, in mixed desert scrub and pinyon-juniper forest Flowering season: April–July Range: Utah, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico. Location in park: Central and southern areas of Capitol Reef, including the Scenic Drive and Utah State Route 24.
Description: This plant has tall flower stalks with 10 to 33 white or cream flowers per stalk. It is known for a strong, unpleasant smell, which gives the plant its common name, stinking milkvetch.
Scientific Name:Townsendia incana Size (height): 1–2 in (2.5–12.7 cm) tall Habitat: Sandy or clay soils in desert scrub, saltbush, sagebrush, and pinyon juniper communities Flowering Season: April–July Range: Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada Location in park: Common throughout the park including the Cathedral District, the Hickman Bridge Trail, Grand Wash, and Capitol Gorge.
Description: Silvery townsendia is a perennial herb with a well-developed root system that typically grows in a low, rounded clump up to 8–10 in (20.3–25.4 cm) wide. The stems are covered with white hairs. The leaves are grayish green and lance shaped. This plant is in the sunflower family, with yellow centers and white petals that are pinkish on the underside.
Pale Evening Primrose
Scientific name: Oenothera pallida Size (height): 12–28 in (30–71 cm) Habitat: Gravelly or sandy soil, from sagebrush to ponderosa pine forests Flowering season: May–September Range: Widespread in Southwest up to eastern Washington and Wyoming Location in park: Common throughout the park
Description: Pale evening primrose has large 4-inch (10 cm) white flowers that fade to pink as they age. Compared to other primroses, this one has very narrow leaves, with toothed (lobed) edges, and is usually taller.
Scientific name:Calochortus nuttallii Size (height): up to 20 in (51 cm), but usually shorter Habitat: Sandy soils in saltbush, greasewood, grasslands, and ponderosa pine woodlands Flowering season: May–July Range: Utah, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and some Midwest states Location in park: South District of the park
Description: Sego lily, the Utah state wildflower, was used as a food source by both Native Americans and Latter-Day Saint pioneers. Attempts to cultivate the Sego lily domestically have been unsuccessful, and this plant should never be harvested or taken from the wild.
Scientific name:Ascelepias speciosa Size (height): 23–40 in (58–102 cm) Habitat: Disturbed lands, riparian areas, and sandy bottomlands Flowering season: May–August Range: Utah, and the Southwest, from California to Canada to Minnesota Location in park: Common in the central part of the park, especially in the Fruita orchards
Description: Its white and pink flowers are at the top of the plant, clustered into a round ball shape. The “fluff” from milkweed seedpods is more buoyant than cork, and warmer than wool. It was used in life jackets and flight suits during World War II.
Showy Four O'Clock
Scientific Name:Mirabilis multiflora Size (height): Up to 36 in (91 cm) tall Habitat: Mixed desert scrub, pinyon juniper woodlands; often grows in the shade of a tree. Flowering Season: May–July Range: Utah, western US Location in park: Widespread in the park; can be seen along the Hickman Bridge Trail, Cohab Canyon Trail, in Grand Wash, and in Capitol Gorge.
Description: Showy four o'clock is a sprawling perennial that can spread up to 36 in (91 cm) wide. It has bright green, egg-shaped leaves with magenta flowers that open in the afternoon. Native Americans used these flowers for medicinal purposes.
Scientific name:Astragulus mollissimus Size (height): 2–17 inches (5–43 cm) Habitat: Many soil types, from mixed desert scrub to pinyon-juniper forests Flowering season: February–June Range: Utah and the Southwest, south to Mexico Location in park: Common in the central and southern parts of the park
Description: One of the earliest plants to bloom in the spring, this milkvetch species is highly poisonous to livestock. Another common name for it is "locoweed."
Scientific name: Phacelia crenulata Size (height): 3–32 inches (8–81 cm) Habitat: Salt desert scrub and pinyon-juniper forest Flowering season: mid-April–June Range: southern Utah and the Southwest Location in park: Common throughout the park
Description: The name “scorpionweed” comes from the way the flower stalk curls at the end, like a scorpion’s tail. Glandular hairs on the leaves and stem of the plant can cause a rash like poison ivy.
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