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Hot Tips for Summer Blooms

Native wildflowers abound in eastern Idaho

Published online: Jul 09, 2020 Articles, Road Trips Steve Smede
Viewed 6079 time(s)

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:


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.


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.


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.”


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.


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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