Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Early June Wildflowers on Tecolote Trail in the Sandia Mountains

Leather Flower Clematis bigelovii 

On Saturday, June 7th, I led my first Forest Service wildflower walk of 2014.  I selected a favorite trail of mine, Tecolote Trail.  This trail is an easy hike through various micro-climates from about 8600' at the trailhead to 8800' near the summit.  You find this trail where the Dry Camp day use area used to be at Mile Marker 6 on the Sandia Crest NM Hwy 536.  The Forest Service took down the signage for Dry Camp, removed the picnic tables and the pay station, and all that remains is a "no camping sign".  There are pit toilets at the trail head by the parking area.

We started out under overcast skies with a group of 6 participants.  It was in the high 50's.  Near the trail head, we encountered Dragonhead, Jacob's Ladder, Twisted Pod Draba, Spreading and Trailing Fleabane, Western Wallflower, Rocky Mountain Penstemon, Whipple's Penstemon, Mountain Parsley, Snowberry, Slimleaf Purple Mustard, Mountain Parsley, Louisiana Sage, Perky Sue, Creeping Mahonia, American Vetch, White Peavine, Northern Rock Jasmine and Red-root Buckwheat.

Red-root Buckwheat

Western Wallflower
American Vetch

Northern Rock Jasmine

Twisted pod Draba

Oregon Grape Holly/Creeping Mahonia

White Peavine

As we climbed toward the first switchback, we found the first of many Stemless Evening Primrose.  They are abundant on this trail and open their white petals in the evening for a moth to pollinate it and close to a pink color the next day when the sun is bright.

Stemless Evening Primrose
At this first switchback, just before the TecoloteTrail sign, we found Chokecherry still bloming but waning this late in the season. The Little-leaf Mock Orange is not yet blooming but should be opening its fragrant flowers in the next two weeks,  The purple flowers of the Wavy-leaf Thistle are not yet present, but the toothed gray-green foliage is growing profusely at this turn in the trail. As we entered the forest canopy area of the trail, we found a Striped Coralroot orchid amid the leaf debris, but it was past it's prime.

Showy Flameflowers will be visible in July and August 
after the monsoon rains begin to fall

James Penstemon

We reached the second switchback turn where a rocky slope faces southwest.  Later this summer, in July and August, the Showy Flameflower will send up beautiful flowers among the rocks from its succulent leaves.    As we walked northeast through the Ponderosa pines and White Fir trees, there were some "snags" hanging from the dead tree branches.  Take care along here, particularly on a windy day, as these dead branches hanging over the trail could fall on a hiker.

To the left of the trail is a rocky out-cropping that will yield bright blue Day Flowers later in the summer.  As we began to hike out onto the Tecolote ridge among the scrub oak and rocky meadow trails, we found Leather Flowers in abundance, along with Wandbloom Penstemon, Perky Sue, Paintbrush, and Stemless Evening Primrose.  American Vetch, White Peavine, and Alpine Clematis twisted their vine among the Snowberry, Mountain Mahagony and Gambel's Oak.

Leather Flower and Paintbrush

Yellow Flax

Sweet Yellow Clover
Leather Flower

Leather Flower

Spreading Fleabane


I even found Yellow Flax which I have never seen in the Sandias before.  The views on the ridge were stunning and you can seen three mountain ranges to the south: Sandias, Manazanitas, and the Manzanos (from closest to farthest).

Right next to the trail as it passed through a rock strewn flowery meadow, we spotted the Pitaya Cactus or Green-flowered Hedgehog.  It was beautiful.

Green-flowered Hedgehog/Pitaya Cactus

James Penstemon

Paintbrush and Perky Sue

We stopped at the Beebalm/Bergamot patch but these flowers are a couple of weeks away from blooming.  This marks about a mile walk at this point.  We turned back while two of our company continued on to hike the loop trail which features views to the east.

Here is a list of wildflowers and some guidebooks to help you identify flowers you may see this summer on the Tecolote Trail:


  1. Aster, Hairy GoldenHeterotheca villosa Aster Family
  2. BahiaBahia dissectaAster Family
  3. Bearcorn – Conopholis alpine var. Mexicana – Broomrape Family
  4. Bergamot/BeebalmMonarda fistulosa Mint Family
  5. Buckbrush, Fendler’s/Mountain LilacCeanothus fendleri Buckthorn Family
  6. Buckwheat, Red-rootErigonum racemosumBuckwheat Family
  7. Buckwheat, Winged Erigonum alatum Buckwheat Family
  8. Cactus, Green-flowered Hedgehog/Pitaya - Echinocereus viridiflorus - Cactus Family
  9. Chokecherry/CapulinPrunus virginianaRose Family
  10. Clematis, Alpine/Rocky Mountain – Clematis columbiana – Buttercup Family
  11. Clover, Yellow SweetMeliotus officinalisPea Family
  12. Coralroot, Striped Corallorhiza striataOrchid Family              . 
  13. Daisy, Tall Easter/Townsend’s Aster - Townsendia eximia  –Aster Family
  14. DayflowerCommelina dianthifoliaSpiderwort Family
  15. Draba, Twisted-pod Draba hellerianaMustard Family
  16. Dragonhead Dracocephalum parviflorumMint Family
  17. Drymary, Slim-leaf Drymaria  molluginea Pink Family
  18. Evening Primrose,  StemlessOenothera caespitosaEvening Primrose Family
  19. Flameflower, Showy – Talinum pulchelum – Purslane Family
  20. Flax, Yellow - Linum vernale Flax Family
  21. Fleabane, Beautiful DaisyErigeron formosissimusAster Family
  22. Fleabane, Spreading Erigeron divergensAster Family
  23. Fleabane, TrailingErigeron flagellarisAster Family
  24. Four O’Clock, Narrow-leavedMirabilis linearis  Four O’ Clock Family
  25. Geranium, PurpleGeranium caespitosumGeranium Family
  26. Gilia, Scarlet/SkyrocketIpomopsis aggregataPhlox Family
  27. Goldeneye, Showy Viguiera multiflora Aster Family
  28. Goldenrod,  Few-flowered Solidago velutinaAster Family
  29. Goldenrod, Rigid  – Solidago rigidaAster Family
  30. Goldenrod, Wright’sSolidago wrightiiAster Family
  31. Goosefoot, Narrow-leavedChenopodium leptophyllumGoosefoot Family
  32. Gromwell, WaysideLithospermum multiflorum Borage Family
  33. Groundsel, New MexicoSenecio neomexicana Aster Family
  34. Hoptree – Ptelea trifoliate – Rue Family
  35. Hyssop, Giant Agastache pallidifloraMint Family
  36. Jacob’s LadderPolemonium foliosissimum Phlox Family
  37. Jasmine, Northern RockAndrosace septentrionalis Primrose Family
  38. Leather FlowerClematis bigeloviiButtercup Family
  39. Lily, Sego/Mariposa Calochortus gunnisoniiLily Family
  40. Mahonia, Creeping/ Oregon Grape HollyBerberis repens -  Barberry Family
  41. Medic, BlackMedicago lupulinaPea Family
  42. Menodora, RoughMenodora scabraOlive Family
  43. Little-leaf Mock Orange Philadelphus microphyllumHydrangea Family
  44. Mountain Spray Holodiscus dumosusRose Family
  45.  Mullein, WoolyVerbascum thapsisFigwort Family
  46. Mustard, Slimleaf PurpleSchoenocrambe linearifolia Mustard Family
  47. Onion,  Nodding Lilium cernuum Lily Family
  48. Rue, Meadow – Thalictrum fendleri  – Buttercup Family
  49. Pea, Golden – Thermopsis montana – Pea Family
  1. Peavine, White – Lathyrus leucanthus – Pea Family
  2. Paintbrush, FoothillsCastilleja integra -  Figwort Family
  3. Parsley, Mountain Pseudocymopterus montana – Parsley Family
  4. Pennyroyal, DrummondHedeoma drummondiiMint Family
  5. Penstemon, Wandbloom – Penstemon virgatus Figwort Family
  6. Penstemon,  Red Penstemon barbatusFigwort Family
  7. Penstemon, Rocky MountainPenstemon strictusFigwort Family
  8. Penstemon,  Whipple’sPenstemon whippleanusFigwort Family
  9. Perky SueTetraneuris argenteaAster Family
  10. Pinedrops Pterospora andromedeaIndian Pipe Family
  11. PinesapMonotropa hypopithysIndian Pipe Family
  12. Rose, Wood’sRosa woodsiiRose Family
  13. Sage, Louisiana Artemisia ludoviciana Aster Family
  14. Sagebrush, RagweedArtemisia franseriodes  - Aster Family
  15. Sage, Fringed/Estafiata – Artemisia frigada – Aster Family
  16. SalsifyTragopogon pratensisAster Family
  17. Scorpionweed,  VarileafPhacelia heterophylla Borage Family
  18. SnowberrySymphoricarpos oreophilusHoneysuckle Family
  19. Tassel FlowerBrickellia grandiflora Aster Family
  20. Thelypodium,  Longleaf FalsePennellia micranthaMustard Family
  21. Thistle, WavyleafCirsium undulatumAster Family
  22. Umbrellawort.  Velvet Mirabilis oblongifolia –  Four O’ Clock Family             
  23. Vetch, AmericanVicia americanaPea Family               . 
  24. Western WallflowerErysimum capitatum Mustard Family
  25. Woodsorrel, VioletOxalis violacea – Woodsorrel Family
  26. Yarrow –Achillea lanulosa – Aster Family

Wildflowers of the Manzanos by Gene Jercinovic with drawings by Robert Dewitt Ivey, now available only on internet site: http://newmexicoflores.com/manzanos.html. The author categorizes the plants by family with an index.

A field guide to identify wildflowers by color is Wildflowers of the Sandia and Manzano Mountains of Central New Mexico, by Larry J. Littlefield and Pearl M. Burns. Sandia Plant Books, Albuquerque, NM, 2011.

A guide for the Sandia Mountains is the Field Guide to the Sandia Mountains Edited by Robert Julyan and Mary Stuever, UNM Press, 2005.  This field guide covers, flora and fauna, geology, trails, ecology, and cultural history of the Sandia Mountains.  It is available for sale in the Sandia Crest Visitor Center. 


  1. Such beautiful flowers. I think I like the leather flower best...such grace and substance. Thanks so much.

  2. Mostly but not entirely wildflowers I'm unfamiliar with. Wish I'd been there in your group for a neat hike and the lessons from an expert. The highlight of my early summer has been the discovery of an extremely rare white ladyslipper on a native prairie in Iowa less than thirty miles from our home...:)