Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Wildflowers of the Sandia Mountains - South Crest Trail

The Sandia Mountains just east of Albuquerque, New Mexico, receive millions of visitors each year who enjoy hiking, skiing, birdwatching, mountain biking, picnics, photography, and, of course, wildflowers.

Scarlet Paintbrush


Jacob's Ladder Polemonium foliosissimum

Western Wallflower Erysimum capitatum

Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly on Western Wallflower

My daughter, Amanda, hiking the 10K Trail

Wild Iris just below the Crest

I am a Volunteer with the US Forest Service (Sandia Ranger District of the Cibola National Forest here in north central New Mexico). Currently I am a Wildflower Interpreter-in-training. This summer, we've been walking the different trails in and around the Sandia Mountains near my home. I've learned to identify flowers of the native plants, shrubs and trees. Here is a Sandia Mountain trail map.  I am learning about the Sandia Mountain wildflowers from the best local expert, Pearl Burns.

Pearl Burns standing beside the sign
by the Crest Nature Trail dedicated to her

These flowers were found on the South Crest Trail south of the Crest House (about 10,600 ft. elevation) in July, 2009. Here is a website with information on the complete South Crest Trail (#130).

King's Crown Sedum integrifolium

Mountain Parsley Pseudocymopterus montana

Yarrow Achillea lanuosa (pink variety)

View from the Crest Trail towards Albuquerque

Red Columbine Aquilega triternata

Cliffs alongside the South Crest Trail

Rocky Mountain Penstemon Penstemon strictus
and  Fendler's Sandwort Arenaria fendleri

Alpine Clover Trifolium dasyphyllum

Rocky Mountain Penstemon Pentstemon strictus

Harebells Campanula rotundifolia

Snowberry Symphoricarpos oreophilus

Golden Pea Thermopsis gracilis

Meadow Rue Thalictrum fendleri (female flowers)

Meadow Rue Thalictrum fendleri (male flowers)

View west from the South Crest Trail

Twistpod Draba Draba helleriana

Coralbells Heuchera pulchella

White Pea Vine Lathyrum leucanthus

Sierra Blanca Bladderpod

Dragonhead  Dracocephalum parviflorum

Jacob's Ladder Polemonium foliosissimum

La Veta Fleabane Erigeron vetensis

Mountain Caraway Aletes acaulis

Osha Ligusticum porteri

Twistedpod Draba Draba aurea 

Red Elderberry Sambrucus racemose

Mountain Spray Holodiscus dumosa

Northern Bedstraw Galium boreale

Townsend Daisy Townsendia exima

Scarlet Paintbrush Castilleja miniata

Geyer Onion Lilium geyeri

Rocky Mountain Clematis Clematis columbiana

Lanceleaf Bluebells Mertensia lanceolota

Star Solomon Seal Maianthemum stellatum

Yellow Sky Pilot  Polemonium brandegei
growing in the cliffs facing the west on the Crest Trail

One of many Cinquefoils. The flowers look the same so you must identify them by their leaves. They are members of the Rose Family. This one is Pretty Cinquefoil:

Pretty Cinquefoil Ponteilla pulcherrima

Wooley Cinquefoil Pontilla hippiana
Notice the gray-green leaves with fine hairs covering te leaves.

James' Cliffbush Jamesii americana

Inflated Penstemon Penstemon inflatus

Ninebark Physocarpus monogynus

A Cliff Primose on lichen covered cliff

Cliff Primrose Primula rusbyi

Calypso, Fairy Slipper Orchid Calypso bubosa
Death Camus   Zigadenus venenosus
(Poisonous. Be careful, looks similar to wild onions)
Geyer's Wild Onion Allium geyeri (buds)
Rattlesnake Orchid Goodyera oblongifolia
Red Elderberry Sambrucus racemosa v. microbotrys
Lambert's Locoweed Oxytrophis lambertii
Locoweed flower has double keel,
Vetch does not have this keel


  1. Hi Vicki,
    I am glad to find your website! This site helps us a lot to identify many wildflowers of Sandia mountains. I hope you could add more wildflowers in future.
    Thank You,
    Kyong and Okchu Lee
    PS. We met you at the Tekolote trail in August. You gave us a good guide for wildflowers. Thank You Again!

  2. I enjoyed walking the Tecolote Trail, looking at the wildflowers with you and Okchu. I hope your winter is wonderful for you and your family..