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Wyoming’s earliest wildflowers are incredible bursts of color with fascinating cold-weather adaptations
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Wyoming’s earliest wildflowers are incredible bursts of color with fascinating cold-weather adaptations

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Mountain ball cactus

Mountain ball cactus

Wyoming’s spring wildflowers know what to expect from the weather.

Light purple pasqueflowers grow with fine hair covering their stems and leaves. Sagebrush buttercups have leaves that fall off when it snows, though the plants themselves remain alive.

Some species of phlox grow matted on the ground, choosing to invest their resources in bright, white flowers instead of tall stems. Other flowers even come with antifreeze in their stems to prevent them from freezing.

“There’s a strategy there,” said Bonnie Heidel, lead botanist with the Wyoming Natural Diversity Database.

And if you slow down enough to look, their colors are stunning.

Between the end of May and the end of June, wildflowers will only increase across the state. Countless species will spring forth from the wet earth ranging from dark magenta to faint pink, bright yellow to deep red, blue and purple and nearly every combination in between. And they’re everywhere.

The lowlands will bloom first, then color will creep up hillsides and into mountains following snow as it retreats.

The earliest flowers, the stemless daisies, buttercups, bluebells and star lilies may not be the tallest wildflowers in Wyoming this summer, but they’re worth your attention.

Star Lily

Star Lily

 
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