Wildflowers

A yellow centered flower with bright purple petals radiating off of it has dew drops scattered about.
Dew drops sprinkled on top of a Hoary Tansy Aster.

NPS Photo / Robb Hannawacker

Grand Canyon Park is home to hundreds of flowering plants. There are about 650 herbaceous (having little or no woody stem) wildflowers in the park. Wildflowers rely on pollinators to spread their seed and often come in bright showy colors to attract. These plants can live in harsh environments with little water or in lush forests on the rim of the canyon. This plant list barely scratches the surface of what is found at Grand Canyon. For an in-depth look, refer to a more complete list of plants in the park.

Common Wildflowers at Grand Canyon

 
Drooping red flowers off of dark green stems.
Beard-lip Penstemon
Penstemon barbatus – Plantaginaceae

NPS Photo / Daniel McConnell

Beard-lip Penstemon

Penstemon barbatus – Plantaginaceae

  • Plant stands about 2 to 4 feet tall
  • Bright red flowers in a tube formation; two lobes point outward, and three lobes point backwards. Blooms in the spring and the fall.
  • Leaves are situated on opposite sides of each other on stems
  • Prefer rocky soil, especially in pinyon-juniper woodlands
  • Very common type of penstemon found at Grand Canyon
  • Used for medicinal purposes, in ceremony, and in decoration
 
Multiple five petal purple flowers point upward of of a light green stem, with mint colored opposite leaves.
Thickleaf Penstemon
Penstemon pachyphyllus – Plantaginaceae

NPS Photo / Daniel McConnell

Thickleaf Penstemon

Penstemon pachyphyllus – Plantaginaceae

  • Blue-purple flowers, upper lobe pointing outward, lower lobe pointing backwards
  • Flowers from May through September
  • Lives in pinyon-juniper woodlands at Grand Canyon.
  • Leaves are situated on opposite sides of each other on stems
  • Very good at growing in poor soil conditions; it is able to grow after a wildfire to help regenerate the landscape
  • Havasupai people folded the green leaves and put them in their mouth while hunting; this created a sound that was like a baby deer
 
Delicate orange flowers blooming on green stalks.
Globemallow
Sphaeralcea spp. – Malvaceae

NPS Photo / Robb Hannawacker

Globemallow

Sphaeralcea spp. – Malvaceae

  • Petals form in bright orange “cups” that open with the sun; bright color makes them a favorite for pollinators
  • Blooms on the rim in early to mid-spring, as well as in the canyon around 4000 ft (1219 m) elevation
  • Leaves are fuzzy and have small white hairs; edges of leaves are lobed and a minty green color
  • Highly drought-resistant and flourish in mid-range deserts
  • Plant has many medicinal purposes, but roots could also be consumed
 
Multiple purple lobes make a balled like shaped flower, with mint green leaves forming a circle of 9 leaves.
Lupine
Lupinus spp. – Fabaceae

NPS Photo / Ty Karlovetz

Lupine

Lupinus spp. – Fabaceae

  • Long, narrow, elongated leaves which grow in a ring a various points around the stem
  • Bright showy purple flowers which grow upward, forming a tower
  • Blooms in the spring and summer on both the North and South Rim of the canyon
  • Serves as a nitrogen fixer, meaning it helps the desert soil by keeping the ground rich and fertile.
  • Used for everything from medicine, to food, to beverages
 
A cluster of close-growing 5 petaled pink flowers.
Desert Phlox
Phlox austromontana – Polemoniaceae

NPS Photo

Desert Phlox

Phlox austromontana – Polemoniaceae

  • Five-petaled flowers range in color from white to deep pink; flowers grow in dense clusters and bloom from April till July
  • Leaves are small and on opposite sides of the stem from each other; they also taper to a pointed tip
  • Commonly seen on both sides of the canyon, as well as the inner canyon corridor trails
  • Prefers rocky soil and can be found throughout the canyon, especially in the pinyon-juniper woodland
  • Used for medicinal purposes, such as toothaches and body aches
 
Bright dark yellow centered flowers with radiating yellow petals around the center.
Hairy False Goldenaster
Heterotheca villosa – Asteraceae

NPS Photo

Hairy False Goldenaster

Heterotheca villosa – Asteraceae

  • Flowers are yellow and petals radiate out of the tiny center flowers
  • Leaves are a medium green color and alternate on either side of the stem of the flower; each plant can have up to 50 stems; leaves come to a pointed, yet rounded, tip
  • Prefers sandy soils and dry open areas
  • Plant has many varieties, but they can be very hard to tell apart
  • Used for medicinal purposes as well as for ceremonies
 
Multiple green stalks hold up flowers with yellow centers and pale purple radiating petals.
Hoary Tansy Aster
Dieteria canescens – Asteraceae

NPS Photo / D. McConnell

Hoary Tansy Aster

Dieteria canescens – Asteraceae

  • Flowers have bright purple petals that are long and oval shaped; centers are also bright, but a yellow color; petals radiate around the center
  • Leaves alternate along the stems of the flowers, and come to point
  • Blooms between July and October
  • Prefers sandy soils and can live in flat areas or gradual slopes
  • Lots of varieties or similar aster flowers that look similar to this particular species
  • Used as medicine for throat and nose issues, as well as an eyewash
 
Pointed red petals directed upward come off of burgundy stems with pale green leaves.
Indian Paintbrush
Castilleja spp.

NPS Photo / Ty Karlovetz

Indian Paintbrush

Castilleja spp. – Scrophulariaceae

  • Bloom in June and July on both rims of the canyon as well as in the inner canyon
  • Plant is partially parasitic, meaning its roots take nutrients from surrounding plants
  • Flowers are bright red
  • Adapted to areas with frequent wildfire
  • Is partially parasitic, meaning it can steal nutrients from other plants
 
Multiple four petal blue flowers with yellow centers on stringy green branches.
Blue Flax
Linum lewisii – Linaceae

NPS Photo

Blue Flax

Linum lewisii – Linaceae

  • Light blue delicate flowers, which sometimes appear white, with approximately five wide petals
  • Leaves are a medium green and are very narrow; they come to a sharp point
  • Prefers open meadows and sloped areas; are common in the inner canyon but can be found throughout
  • Used as a natural medicine for native peoples, in addition as a food additive for extra nutrients
  • Species is named for Meriweather Lewis of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
 
Pale green leaves with multiple sharp spines circle around a red orange flower with petals that all point to the sky.
Arizona Thistle
Cirsium arizonicum – Asteraceae

NPS Photo / Daniel McConnell

Arizona Thistle

Cirsium arizonicum Asteraceae

  • Flowers come in a variety of colors, but mostly a red to purple spectrum, but include up to 100 disk florets
  • Leaves are green, lobed with pointed ends, and have tiny spikes all over them
  • Contains spines all over the plant, used as protection from herbaceous predators
  • Prefers sunny areas, openings in the forest, or rocky exposed ledges
  • This thistle is native; if you encounter any thistle on the trail, do not remove it. Contact the park and provide the location of the plant so that our natural resources staff can determine if the thistle you found is native or invasive.
 
White petals form a cup-like shape with small pointed stems coming out from the center of the flower.
Sacred Datura
Datura wrightii – Solanaceae

NPS Photo / Ty Karlovetz

Sacred Datura

Datura wrightii Solanaceae

  • Flowers have large white petals which form a tube shape into the base of the flower; they mostly bloom at night and between April and October
  • Leaves are large and a deep green color; their edges are wavy and they come to a point
  • Used medicinally as a disinfectant as well as in ceremonies
  • Considered a poisonous narcotic; do not consume
  • Is native, but can have invasive-like tendencies of taking over roadsides and streambeds
 
Tube shaped red flowers stick off perpendicularly to a green stem.
Gilia/Skyrocket
Ipomopsis spp. – Polemoniaceae

NPS Photo / D. Kent

Gilia/Skyrocket

Ipomopsis spp. – Polemoniaceae

  • Stems shoot straight upward, while the flowers shoot out perpendicularly
  • Flowers come in a variety of colors and often flower from June through September; they come in a tube shaped formation with pointy petals that radiate outward
  • Leaves alternate on either side of the stems of the plant
  • Prefers high elevations, between 7000 and 9000 feet (2100 to 2700 meters)
  • Can be found in meadows and open forests

Last updated: October 5, 2021

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Mailing Address:

PO Box 129
Grand Canyon, AZ 86023

Phone:

928-638-7888

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