This high altitude flower may stop you during a hike along the Front Range due to the plant’s showy flowers and leathery leaves. This is the start of a list of plants that are found above 9,500 ft in the Pikes Peak Region. These are not in any order, just plants that I have seen and have some interest.
Starting off with a Yellowdot Saxifrage (Saxifraga bronchialis) the Latin genus name is derived from the word saxum, or “rock” and frangere which means “to break”. It is a unique plant with high altitude flowers.
From the website, wildflower.org, this high altitude plant that was once used for treatment of “Stones” in the urinary tract.” So, you’re saying that my first choice without doing any research in the list, is a treatment to a Kidney Stone? No thank you, maybe this was used in the Dark Ages. I don’t foresee myself ever using this if I ever get kidney stones.
Flowers and Leaves
These high-altitude flowers are almost alien like with little spores going off out of the stem. With a white, creamy petal with round dots of red, orange, and yellow moving toward the center is unique relative to other flowers. These flowers are tiny, only about five millimeters in diameter. It is difficult to see in a high altitude prairie because the stem only reaches 6” off the ground. The flower is awesome, in particular because the plant has evergreen, leathery, hairy-edged leaves that resemble small aloe leaves.
Where to Look
I first spotted this plant off a trail where I found several in a 1’ x 2’ cluster. Only an inch off the ground, in a crevasse of a boulder like lichen or moss, this plant stood out with its hairy leaves. After researching the Saxifrage, I went back to the cluster every weekend for three weeks, just to see it bloom. This cluster bloomed the first weekend of July, along with other native plants. I found this plant at 11,500 feet elevation. Within a fifty-foot radius of the first one, there were about a dozen other Yellowdot Saxifrage scattered.
These high altitude flowers also grow in Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. That makes sense, high altitude, mountainous terrain, exactly where I found it. This cluster was on the north side of the mountain with very little sun and indirect light only as it was in a Spruce grove.
This may help you if you have a grove of evergreens on your property, and you have difficulty growing anything. If it does, come back and let me know with a comment.
Related Posts: High Elevation Flowers – Mountain Alumroot