Hot Tips for Summer Blooms

Native wildflowers abound in eastern Idaho

Published online: Jul 09, 2020 Articles, Road Trips Steve Smede
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Ready to break out and head for the hills with warming summer temps? One of your best options might be a backcountry trek in search of area wildflowers. Simply slip into your hiking boots, pack your skeeter spray and above all — don’t forget your camera!

Here are 5 of our favorite species from around the region:

1

Camas Lily (Camassia quamash)

Defining features: Long, deep blue petals splayed out over grass-like leaves.

Where we found it: Cave Falls Road in Island Park, just before the turn-off to Horseshoe Lake.

Fun fact: This showy bulb flower blooms in bulk, especially in moist, high-mountain meadows in early summer.

2

Western Columbine (Aquilegia formosa)

Defining features: Hot-orange, red outer petals that spread out over yellow inner petals.

Where we found it: Upper Mesa Falls area.

Fun fact: It’s summer-sweet nectar is known to attract hummingbirds. Flowers are edible, but the seeds can be lethal.

3

Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja angustifolia)

Defining features: Grayish-green leaves topped with tubular flowers encased in rich red specialized leaves called bracts.

Where we found it: Iron Bog Lake near Mackay

Fun fact: According to the U.S. Forest Service: “This plant was used by Native Americans as both a love charm in food and as a poison used to against their enemies.”

4

Prairie Lupine (Lupinus aridus)

Defining features: spiked, almost corn-cob-looking flower structure with fan-like base leaves.

Where we found it: Island Park (pictured here) and along the trails near Kelly Canyon.

Fun fact: Look familiar? This stately wildflower is a close cousin of the pea and bean family.

5

Beardtongue (Penstemon payettensis)

Defining features: Rich blue/purple blossoms that circle up multiple, 2-foot tall stems

Where we found it: Menan Buttes

Fun fact: Part of a huge family of 250 species. Used by Native American tribes as a medicinal plant for both people and animals.



Click here to read more of Idaho Falls Magazine's May issue. 

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