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Wildflowers, Ferns, and Trees 
of the
Four Corners Region of 
Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, & Utah

1) Introduction to this web site 
2)
Searching and browsing 
3)
Key to photographs and descriptions 
      a)
Plant names     
      b)
Vegetation zones and habitats
      c)
Season of bloom, place & date of photograph
      d) Range maps
4 )
Authors, technical details, copyright

1) Introduction

Welcome.  I hope this web site shows you the beauty of Four Corners flora and helps you understand how to identify these plants.  

Photographs and descriptions of 1000 species of wildflowers, ferns, and trees found within a 150 mile radius of the Four Corners area of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah appear in this educational/reference web site.  Each plant appears in a number of photographs showing the entire plant and distinctive parts of the plant such as the flower, leaf, and hairs.  Photographs are accompanied by details about the plant's blooming time and place, unusual plant characteristics, interesting growth habits, when and where the plant was first found for science, the meaning of the plant's scientific name, etc. 

Click your way into these plants and you will find photos and descriptions of Cactus in deserts and Spruce in 14,000 foot mountains, flowering shrubs in canyons and short-lived flowers in dry washes, plants hanging on sandstone rock faces, and dwarf wildflowers in alpine meadows. This diversity thrives in the approximately 9,000 square miles encompassed by this web site.  The area includes Mesa Verde, Canyonlands, Arches, and Canyon De Chelly National Parks; Escalante/Grand Staircase, Natural Bridges, Hovenweep, Canyons of the Ancients, El Malpais, and El Moro National Monuments; the San Juan, Chuska, Abajo, and La Sal Mountains; and many other wild areas of and near the Colorado Plateau, those lands drained by the middle section of the Colorado River.

Many of the plants found in the Four Corners area are also found in nearby states, even in distant states, and even in other countries  --  we live on a green and blue sphere where everything is related to everything else.

I hope your visit to this web site is profitable and enjoyable and gives you some idea of the wild beauty of the Four Corners.

I further hope this web site promotes an appreciation for plant diversity and beauty and contributes to the protection of plant habitat and to the protection of the creatures that thrive on these plants.  If we each become involved in planning efforts of the United States Forest Service, National Park Service, and Bureau of Land Management and if we each work locally for the protection of open spaces and the control of urban and rural sprawl, we can protect plants and their habitat.  Joining national organizations such as the Sierra Club, the Wilderness Society, The Nature Conservancy, and the Audubon Society; local organizations such as the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and the San Juan Citizen Alliance; and other national and local environmental groups is a further way to ensure that the plants remain. 

Taking walks in the wild is the best way to ensure that we remember the value of wild beauty and what we are here for.

Join the Native Plant Society in your state: enjoy, learn about, and help to preserve the native plants of your area.  See the Links page for Native Plant Societies in the Four Corners area.  

This web site is the endeavor of 
Al Schneider of Lewis, Colorado.
I welcome your
comments and suggestions.

When you are on public land please remember:
Take only pleasure.
Do not take any plant or pick flowers.

If you wish to own wild plants,
purchase them from legitimate plant nurseries.

Please remember that photographs, written material, design, and all other aspects of this web site are © Al Schneider. No aspect of this web site may be used for any purpose -- personal, not-for-profit, governmental, or commercial -- without the permission of Al Schneider.
Email Al
  or phone (970-882-4647) for permission and commercial prices.
Proceeds from the sale of Al's photographs pay for this web site
.

 

 2) Searching and browsing

1) You can search or browse photos by color or plant type, or search or browse by name, or search this entire web site.

Searching or browsing by color or plant type: To do this, click on the colored icon on the opening page of this web site or on the words at the top of each page of this web site.

Searching or browsing by name: You can use the search engine to search for a specific plant by common or scientific name or you can browse the alphabetical lists of all plants.

Searching the entire web site:  You can use the search engine to find a plant by name; to find all members of a family; to find plants blooming in a specific month, season, habitat, or vegetation zone; to find plants on a particular trail; etc.

2) If you are searching for a particular flower by color, be sure to look in several color sections.  Flower colors vary; some blue flowers can be purple, pink, or white; some red flowers can be yellow or orange; etc.  Remember too that because of variations in growing factors the species could look dramatically different in the field.

3) Handy points to remember when searching and browsing this web site:

A) If you do not find a plant in this web site under the name you normally use for it, type that name in the "Search" box to see if the name has been changed.

B) To move to the top of a page,

click on a hot pepper, Pepper

or click a yellow/pink/black Southwestern graphic,

 .

C) Most links open in new tabs or new pages.

D) If you use two or more words when using the search box, be sure to enclose the words in quotation marks ("Lake Hope Trail").  Otherwise you will retrieve every entry for each word.

4) IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT FONT AND PHOTO SIZE ON YOUR MONITOR:

I want you to derive maximum enjoyment from the descriptive information and photographs on my web site, but recent versions of Windows use very high resolution screen settings resulting in very small print and very small photographs on your screen. You can leave the resolution at its manufacturer's recommended high setting for sharpness and clarity and still increase the font and photograph size by clicking on the magnifier in the bottom right of your screen (for Internet Explorer) or in the tools and options in some other browsers.

If you do not see the magnifier in the bottom right of Internet Explorer, it may not be available for your version of Windows, OR right click on a tool bar at the top of your screen, click on "Status Bar", and the magnifier will appear at bottom right.

You can magnify each web site you visit and your computer will remember each setting.

You also can temporarily increase web page size by placing your cursor on the screen, holding down the ctrl key, and scrolling with your mouse scroll wheel.

You will find the text and photographs in my web site much easier to view if you significantly magnify the display of your computer monitor. 

3) Key to photographs

  This web site provides photographs and descriptions of about 1000 wildflowers, shrubs, ferns, and trees of the area within a 150 mile radius of the Four Corners.

1) There are two major sets of photographs: thumbnails and full-sized. 

Thirty-six thumbnail pages each contain numerous close-up photographs of the flower, leaf, or some other key identifying characteristic of each plant. These thumbnails are grouped by color and then alphabetized by family, genus, and species.  

Clicking on a thumbnail photograph will take you to a page with a number of full-sized photographs of the plant shown in the thumbnail. 

Descriptive text accompanies each page of full-sized photographs.

2) This is an educational/reference web site and the intent of the photographs and descriptions is to assist you in identifying and enjoying plants of the Four Corners area.

3) Plant names in bold are those listed in the Synthesis of the North American Flora, a product of 40 years of labor by national plant authority John Kartesz. These names are almost always in accord with those used by the Flora of North America and are usually in accord with the USDA Plants Database and local plant authorities William Weber (Colorado Flora) and Stanley Welsh (A Utah Flora).  Synonyms in use by Weber, Welsh, and other botanists are listed but they are not bold. As noted above, if you do not find a plant name in this web site, type that name in the "Search" box to see if the name is considered a synonym.

4) Many factors affect plant growth and, therefore, the plant you find in the field could vary in appearance from the ones shown on this web site.  The plant you encounter could be taller or shorter, and it could have more or fewer flowers, be a different shade or color, be solitary or in groups, etc.

5) New photographs and text are added often.

 

3) Key to descriptions

     In the first three lines of each plantís description you will find basic information about the plant: 
a) Plant names
b) Vegetation zone in which the plant is commonly found  and  Habitat in which it commonly grows 
c) Season of bloom  and  Place and date the photograph was taken 

Each of these is discussed below.

    a) Plant names

Each plant is identified by one or several common names most often used in the Four Corners area and by the scientific name accepted by John Kartesz in his labor of 40 years, The Synthesis of the North American Flora. Scientific names shown in bold are the currently accepted names according to Kartesz.  Scientific names shown in normal font are synonyms in use by such authorities as William A. Weber in his Colorado Flora  and Stanley Welsh in his A Utah Flora.

See the Plant Names page for a detailed discussion about why we should use scientific not common names, how scientific names are arrived at, a brief history of the development of scientific names, and why scientific names change.  Very interesting.

Key to descriptions, continued

b) Vegetation zones and habitats

Variations in the growth patterns and number of plants in a particular area are brought about by a number of factors:

A) Plant growth is significantly affected by seasonal variables such as temperature, precipitation, sunshine, and wind and by local variables such as temperature, soil composition, soil moisture, altitude, slope, and direction of slope of the land.  Thus a sandy, shady, moist, north facing hillside after good spring rains promotes the growth of plants quite different from those on a rocky, sunny, dry, south facing hillside after a dry spring.  These differences are apparent everywhere in the world.  

B) Disturbance by animals (especially by human beings) produces significant changes in the appearance of plants or even the existence of plants.  

C) Altitude variations produce significant differences in plant growth because of significant differences in temperature, wind, moisture, soil conditions, solar radiation, snow pack, etc.  Since altitude in the Four Corners area varies from under 5,000 feet to over 14,000 feet, it is altitude that produces the most profound impact on plants and thus is the basis of the vegetation zones in the area.

Vegetation Zones in the Four Corners area (applies with some variations in many Rocky Mountain areas):

Alpine: Above 11,500 feet (tree line).  Characterized by tundra: land of thin soil, rocks, a very short growing season, and frost any day of the year.  Annually 30-55 inches of moisture, most from snow (200 to 400 inches per winter). Magnificent carpets of dwarfed flowering plants in June, July, and August.

Subalpine: From 10,000 to 11,500 feet.  Characterized by thick Spruce/Fir forests.  Aspens grow at lower elevations in this zone.  Annually about 25-40 inches of moisture, most from snow (about 250-350 inches).  Lush wildflower growth mid-June through August.

Montane: From 8,000 to 10,000 feet.  Open Aspen forests, sometimes with heavy undergrowth of shrubs (Snowberry, Currants, Elderberry).  Colorado Blue Spruce in moist areas.  At lower elevations some large stands of Ponderosa Pine with scattered Douglas Fir on north facing slopes.  Annually about 18-30 inches of moisture, 1/2 to 3/4 from snow.  Moderate to lush wildflower growth from June-August.

Foothills (including Mesas): From 6,500 to 8,000 feet. Pinyon Pine, Juniper, and Oak forests, often quite thick.  Pockets of Douglas Firs.  Ponderosa Pines at higher elevations.  Numerous shrubs: Serviceberry, Mountain Mahogany, Snowberry.  Annually about 14-25 inches of moisture, about half from snow.  Moderate to very good wildflower growth in May and June, highly dependent on winter and spring rains.

Desert and Semi-desert (including Canyons): Typically from 4,000 to 6,500 feet. (Some areas as low as 2500 feet in deep canyons.)  Arid. Annually 5-14 inches of moisture, 1/4 or less from snow.  Desert and semi-desert areas are characterized by open, sandy flats with scattered shrubs (Saltbush, Sagebrush) and Cottonwoods along washes.  Higher semi-desert canyons have Pinyon Pine, Juniper, and Oak with some thick patches of Yucca, Sagebrush, Mountain Mahogany, and other shrubs.  Wildflower growth is best from March to June but is highly dependent on winter moisture.

Habitats in the Four Corners area (applies with some variations in many Rocky Mountain areas):

Some plants bloom only in special, very limited habitats; others tolerate a variety of growing conditions.  The following twelve categories are used to describe the habitats of the Four Corners area:  

Tundra:  Land above tree line characterized by a short growing season, intense sun and wind, thin soils, very high snow fall and high rain fall, and low-growing sedges, grasses, dwarf shrubs, and herbs.

Scree: Fields (often extensive) of small, loose, slab rock.  Common below tree line and very common above tree line. Pockets of endemic wildflowers where soils accumulate.

Woodlands: Areas forested with one or more species of the following: Spruce, Fir, Pine, Aspen, Oak, Juniper, Douglas Fir.

Wetlands: Wet meadows, fens, seeps, rivulets.

Streamsides: Moist areas along streams.

Openings: Small to large rock or meadow clearings (caused by soil conditions, fire, or man) in woods or grass and shrublands.

Meadows: Grass, shrub, and wildflower-filled large open areas with few, if any, trees.

Rocks: Areas of large rock in canyons or mountains.

Canyons: Deep and long depressions with rock walls and cliffs and rubble slopes.  Pinyon Pine, Juniper, and Sagebrush are common.

Shrublands: Arid lands characterized by shrubs, grasses, and a lack of trees.

Disturbed areas: Roadsides, mined areas, timbered lands, avalanche chutes, slumps, mud-slides.

Semi-deserts: Shrublands, grasslands, Pinyon-Juniper woodlands, or sandy, sparsely vegetated or relatively barren lands.

 

Key to descriptions, continued

c) Season of bloom and place and date of photograph

In this web site the words "spring", "summer", and "fall" describe the blooming/growing seasons, but a word of caution is necessary: spring in the semi-desert country at 5,000 feet begins in March but spring at 11,000 feet (often just a few miles away) does not set in until June or July.  In this web site "spring" refers to March - May; summer is June - August; and fall is September - November.

The place and date the photograph was taken give you a rough idea of where and when to find the plant in bloom.  Because of variations in cloud-cover, wind, rain, and snow, the blooming date for a plant in the same location can vary several weeks from year to year.  Because of altitude differences, sunny versus shady exposure, wet versus dry conditions, and variations in soil conditions, the blooming date for the same plant in different locations varies even more.

You will, of course, be able to find a plant not only in the place where the photograph was taken, but in many other areas of similar growing conditions, especially altitude, near the Four Corners states of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah.  Some plants shown are very wide-spread and occur throughout the Rocky Mountains or even in many other areas of North America and the world.  (Because my wife Betty and I live in Colorado so close to several of its wonders (San Juan National Forest, Mesa Verde National Park, and Canyons of the Ancients National Monument), the majority of photographs are from Colorado.  All photographs are from Colorado unless otherwise stated.)

Some plants have a very short blooming period; others bloom the entire summer.  Some plants put out a single flower; others have numerous flowers, either over a long period of time or within a few days.  Some individual flowers last part of a day; others for many days. Some flowers open in the morning, some in the afternoon, several in the evening. Some stay open until they wither.

Remember that if you see a favorite flower just past bloom at 9,000 feet, it very well might be in full bloom at 11,000 feet.  

In sum, blooming period, place, and date vary with the species, the location, and the growing conditions.

Range Maps

Range maps are © John Kartesz, Floristic Synthesis of North America, 2012, Biota of North America Program (BONAP)

Field botanists and amateurs are always finding plants in new areas of the United States so John Kartesz continually updates The Synthesis with new county and state records. The updates may not be posted on this Four Corners Flora web site.  My intent in presenting the range maps, current as of 2012, is to show you the general distribution of the plants. 

If you would like precise distribution information, see the Biota of North America web site and purchase the Synthesis, soon commercially available at a very reasonable price.  The DVD will be updated free twice each year. 

The Synthesis DVD presents many options not available here on my web site: The range maps on the DVD can be magnified, cropped, and copied.  Pointing to a county with your cursor gives you numerous details, including where specimens of the plant are preserved. The DVD will include 150,000 photographs. You can key plants using the DVD. You can compile plant lists for your state, your county, your zip code, etc.

The DVD also includes information about subspecies and varieties; this Four Corners web site has some range maps for these.

If you have any questions about the distribution information, feel free to email me.

Maps are color-coded as follows:

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

 

Authors, technical details, credits, and copyright

AUTHORS and ORIGIN OF THIS WEB SITE

Hello.  I am Al Schneider, the creator of this web site.  My wife, Betty, and I live in Southwest Colorado near Mesa Verde National Park with our pup and constant companion, Willi Coyote, and our feline friend, Mr. Outdoors.  Before retiring, I was an English Professor, Ozark Trail designer with Missouri State Parks, backcountry guide in my own business, and computer-based educator with the Ute Mountain Ute Indian Tribe. 

Betty was a Special Education teacher and paramedic firefighter.  Betty continues to teach CPR and First Aid classes and she loves hiking and snow shoeing.  In wildflower season she turns on her superb eye and spots hard to find flowers.  Year-round Betty is a passionate and expert chef and beader.  Click to see her beadwork on this web site

Click to see us and our family.

Through the San Juan/Four Corners Native Plant Society, Betty and I lead many wildflower walks that are free and open to everyone.  Click to see the schedule.  Feel free to email me for information.  Phone: 970-882-4647.

This web site grew out of a volunteer project that Betty and I undertook in 2000 to produce two volumes of wildflower, fern, and tree photographs and descriptions for the San Juan National Forest Visitor Information Services in Southwest Colorado.  The volumes are available for visitors to view in the Dolores and Durango Offices of the San Juan National Forest.

In February of 2001 I published this web site so the beauty of the Four Corners region could be enjoyed by an even wider audience.

TECHNICAL DETAILS

Photographs on this Four Corners Wildflowers web site dated before March, 2004 (there are only about a dozen of these left on the web site) were taken on film with a Minolta Freedom Zoom 38-135mm (a "point and shoot" camera).

During the summers of 2004 and 2005 I replaced about 1,000 film photos with digital photos taken with my excellent digital Olympus C-750 camera.  During each of these summers, I also added about 1,000 new photographs, including several hundred new species. In each of the following years I added new species and several hundred new photographs of plants already on the web site.  Each year new photographs are shown in the Recent Additions section of this web site. In April of 2010 I began photographing with the excellent Panasonic FZ35 camera.

I designed the original Four Corners Wildflower web site with Microsoft's Front Page web-making software which made many aspects of web design easy and fluid, but which also had a number of serious flaws.  In September of 2008 I switched from Front Page to Dreamweaver 8, a much more versatile web page designing software.

This web site presently has 875 pages, over 250,000 words, 4,500+ photographs of 1,000 species, and 15,000 links (internal and external). The web site is nearing one gigabyte.

CREDITS

Unless otherwise noted, all photographs are by Al with Betty's assistance -- that's her (just out of view) holding the ruler in many photographs.  Text, web site design, and web maintenance are by Al.  

A big THANKS to Ed and Michele Fink of
MYDURANGO.NET
for hosting this web site. 
MyDurango.net serves 
Cortez, Mancos, Bayfield, and Durango, Colorado 
with DSL and phone service.
www.myDurango.net  (970) 385-2500

The Red Pepper, petroglyphs, and Southwestern strip design are from RT Graphics.

Weber and Wittmann's Colorado Flora, Western Slope, Susan Komarek's Flora of the San Juans, Arthur Cronquist's Intermountain Flora , and Stanley Welsh's A Utah Flora provide the botanical cornerstones of this web site. 

The first name given for all plants comes from John Kartesz's DVD, Synthesis of the North American Flora, a labor of love for the past 40 years. John Kartesz's web site, www.bonap.org, now presents almost all the detail contained in the DVD. Kartesz is the ultimate authority for plant names on this web site and his names are always in bold

Click to read about John Kartesz's Synthesis of the North American Flora, which will soon be available on a DVD.  The DVD will include amazing details on every plant in the United States and Canada.  It will have maps showing county by county occurrences of every plant, keys to plants, 150,000 photographs, etc.  I thank John for sharing early versions of his Synthesis with me and for sharing many hours of botanical conversations via telephone between North Carolina and Colorado.  

My thanks to friend John Bregar, with whom I share many hours of botanical explorations in the mountains and canyons and with whom I also share frustration, success, and laughs when trying to key plants.

My love and thanks to my wife, Betty the beader, superb chef, amazing wildflower spotter, and my constant companion.  Betty is always a joy and surprise to be with.

And my gratitude to Willi Coyote, first dog in my life.  Willi adopted Betty and me in 2006 and she has been our constant companion since then.  If only we human beings would emulate the wild critters of our beautiful world.

And, of course, unending thanks to all the wild plants.

COPYRIGHT INFORMATION

Photographs, written material, design, and all other aspects of this web site are
© Al Schneider.
No aspect of this web site may be used for any purpose  -- 
personal, not-for-profit, governmental, or commercial  --
without the permission of Al Schneider. 
 
Email Al
  or phone (970-882-4647) for permission and commercial prices.

Proceeds from the sale of Al's photographs pay for this web site.

WILDFLOWER HOME PAGE     SEARCH BY PLANT NAME     BLUE/PURPLE FLOWERS     BROWN/GREEN FLOWERS     
FERNS     PINK/RED/ORANGE FLOWERS     TREES     WHITE FLOWERS 
   YELLOW FLOWERS     CONTACT US