Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, & Utah

Welcome to my website for the identification and appreciation of mountain and desert flora.
Please feel free to email me your comments and questions.      Al Schneider


CLICK for details about my wildflower app for phones and tablets:

Datura icon

Fern Button Tree Button

CLICK        A       PLANT      ICON      TO       BROWSE        FLOWERS           FERNS           TREES



Indicate how you want your results displayed:
Scientific name
Common name
Scientific family name

1) If you would like to look at species
that you already know

or if you would like to browse all species,
click     now.

Click the thumbnail results to see enlarged photos and plant descriptions.

2) If you would like TO IDENTIFY A PLANT
or if you would like to look at plants
with special characteristics, go to

immediately below.

Refresh your page or click     to start a new search.

3) Click here to SEARCH THIS WEBSITE
by trail, plant part, location, or any word, name, or phrase.


1) To identify a plant you found, select its characteristics below and click "Submit".
2) To browse plants with particular characteristics, select the characteristics below and click "Submit". For example, to see species that are wildflowers, yellow, flowering in July, growing in the alpine, and found in rocky areas, select each characteristic and click "Submit". You will get a list of all the species on this website that fit the characteristics you selected.
NOTE: If you have unsuccessfully tried to ID a white flower, skip the "Flower Color". A number of flowers have rare white versions that may not be in this key.

Plant Type
Shrub: woody,
     shorter than   
     tree, several
Fern & related:
     spores, no flowers or
Cactus: spines,
     no leaves,
Skip category
Flower Color
Red, Pink
Blue, Purple
Green, Brown
Skip category

Flowering Month
Skip category

Vegetation Zone
Skip category

Woodlands, dry or moist
Shrublands or grasslands
Meadows or openings or tundra
Rocky areas or scree
Wetlands or seeps or springs
Streamsides or streams
Disturbed areas or roadsides
Skip category


or continue choosing characteristics below.

Leaf Position

Alternate Alternate

Opposite  Opposite

Basal      Basal, horizontal

Whorled Whorled

Spiraled Spiraled

Bundled Bundled

Plant does not produce leaves or the leaves are miniscule

Skip category

Leaf Type

Simple: The leaf blade is not divided into separate leaflets.

         Simple       Simple      Simple


Compound: The leaf blade is divided into separate leaflets. 

     Compound pinnate    Compound pinnate    Compound pinnate

     Compound pinnate   Compound palmate   Compound


Skip category


or continue choosing characteristics below.

Leaf Blade Margin

Margin entire: not toothed, lobed, or divided. 

Entire margin  Entire

Entire   Entire  , wavy-edged is considered entire

Margin toothed, lobed, or divided.

Margin not entire  Margin not entire 1

Simple  Compound pinnate

Skip category

Leaf Blade Shape

Leaf blade longer than wide. Various shapes in outline.

Long   Long    Long   Long   


Leaf blade about as long as wide. Blade close to round in outline. Each photograph in the second row below shows just one leaf, one compound leaf, i.e., a leaf cut into leaflets. The overall shape of each whole leaf is round.

Round  Round  Round

Round  Compound Round

Skip category


or continue choosing characteristics below.

Flower Shapes by Family       Skip this "Flower Shape" category.

                                                I do not see my flower shape below. Show me all others.

                                                     Click the family name for a description.


Apiaceae (aka Umbelliferae) (Parsley Family)

 Conioselinum scopulorum (Hemlock Parsley)  Cymopterus lemmonii (Mountain Parsley)


Asteraceae (aka Compositae) (Sunflower Family)

Asteraceae has the greatest number of species of any family in our area (and in many parts of the world), so to get you closer to identifying your mystery species in this family, I have added two further characteristics choices just for Asteraceae.

1) What is the growth form of your Asteraceae species?
Plants grow with many stems emanating from a single point. Shrub-like, either woody or not woody.

Asteraceae form, Senecio spartioides Asteraceae form cluster Gutierrezia sarothrae

Plants grow with a loose or tight mass of basal leaves; flower stems arise from different locations in the mass.

Asteraceae form mat 1 Keying images/Asteraceae-form-mat-2.jpg

Plants grow singly, although there may be dozens of individual plants near each other.

ASteraceae form single Erigeron-bellidiastrum Asteraceae form Pyrrocoma crocea

Skip the above Asteraceae growth form category.

2) What is the flower head type of your Asteraceae species?
Asteraceae flowers are actually groupings of tiny flowers into one flower head, and the flower heads come in three flavors.

Flower heads have ray and disk flowers. The outer circle consists of ray flowers, each with one elongated ray (the flattened yellow or lavender appendage shown below) and an inner disk of tightly packed tubular flowers that do not have rays.

       Heliomeris multiflora (Showy Goldeneye)  Erigeron speciosus (Showy Daisy) 

Flower heads have only ray flowers.

       Taraxacum officinale (Dandelion)  Hieracium fendleri (Fendler's Hawkweed)

      Flower heads have only disk flowers.

       Antennaria rosea (Red Pussytoes)  Carduus nutans (Musk Thistle)

      Skip the above Asteraceae flower head category.


Boraginaceae (Forget-Me-Not Family)

Cryptantha minima (Little Cat's Eye)  Mertensia franciscana (Franciscan Bluebells)  Phacelia howelliana (Howell's Phacelia)

Brassicaceae (aka Cruciferae) (Mustard Family)

Dimorphocarpa wislizenii (Spectacle Pod)  Descurainia incana (Mountain Tansy Mustard)


Caryophyllaceae (Pink Family)

Cerastium arvense (Mouse-ear Chickweed)  Silene acaulis (Moss Campion)


Fabaceae (aka Leguminosae) (Pea Family)

Astragalus flava (White Milk Vetch)  Trifolium parryi (Parry's Trifolium)


Onagraceae (Evening Primrose Family) 

Oenothera coronopifolia (Cut-leaf Evening Primrose  Epilobium ciliatum (Fringed Willowherb)


Orobanchaceae (Broomrape Family)

Orobanche fasciculata (Bundled Broomrape)  Pedicularis parryi (Parry's Alpine Lousewort)  Casilleja linariifolia (Wyoming Paintbrush)


Plantaginaceae (Plantain Family)

Penstemon cyanocaulis (Blue-stemmed Penstemon)  Bessya alpina (Alpine Kitten Tails)


Polemoniaceae (Phlox Family)

Ipomopsis aggregata (Scarlet Gilia)  Phlox condensata (Alpine Phlox)

Polygonaceae (Buckwheat Family)

Eriogonum cernuum (Nodding Buckwheat)  Eriogonum umbellatum (Sulphur Flower)  Persicaria amphibia (Water Smartweed)

Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)  

Ranunculus glaberrimus (Sagebrush Buttercup)  Aquilegia micrantha (Alcove Columbine)  Delephinium barbeyi (Barbey's Delphinium)

Rosaceae (Rose Family)

Potentilla rubricaulis (Red-stemmed Cinquefoil)  Cratageus sp (Hawthorn)


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Another Way to Search This Site

The search box below allows you to search this site for any word or phrase, such as,
a trail or park name, location, botanist's name, plant part, or alternate common name.

If your search has more than one word, for example, "Lake Hope Trail", enclose the words in quotation marks. Otherwise you will retrieve some entries for each word as well as for the phrase.

NOTE: To search by plant name, flower color, month of flowering, habitat, vegetation zone, etc., you will find it faster and easier to use the search tool at the top of the page.

search engine by freefind




Photographs, written material, design, and all other aspects of this website are
© Al Schneider.
No aspect of this website 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 website.

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This website is hosted by the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory of Gothic, Colorado.
I deeply appreciate RMBL's assistance in making sure that swcoloradowildflowers.com
stays on-line for many years into the future. If you are so inclined,
please send a donation to RMBL and indicate that it is for the perpetuation of this website.

The Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory advances the scientific understanding of nature
that promotes informed stewardship of the Earth.
Founded in 1928 as an independent field station with no institutional affiliation,
the Lab hosts one of the largest gatherings of field biologists from institutions across the world.
Internationally recognized research has been carried out at all levels of organization from gene to ecosystem,
and Lab scientists have produced over 1,300 publications.
Paul Ehrlich considers RMBL, "the finest biological research station in the world".
Click for a video about RMBL.


My thanks to Michelle and Jeff Fink of Cedar Networks;
they generously hosted this website for ten years. 
For digital services for businesses and homes call (877) 652-3327.


And thanks to Steve Sullivan, patient paragon programmer who set up
the search mechanism near the top of this page. Click for Steve's great botanical website.


This website is updated almost every day.
The site has been visited about 2.5 million times since its inception in February, 2001.

I hope you enjoy your visit with the plants of the Four Corners states.
Please feel free to contact me with your comments and questions.

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