Nature Discovery with Renée!

Time for an adventure this week with Librarian Renée! This week’s Nature Discovery we are going to take in the fantastic show of colors from our local wildflowers!

Fire up the grill, it’s the Fourth of July! While many firework displays have been canceled for the year, I know the perfect way to see bursts of fantastic colors that will make you “ooh” and “aah.”

Blue Columbine (Colorado Sate Flower)

Wildflowers! This time of year Colorado is EXPLODING with color! There are hundreds of different species of wildflowers in Colorado, ranging in color from pinks and blues, to oranges and reds. Some are so big you can see them as you drive through the mountains and foothills, and some so tiny you are lucky if you see them at all. They blow in the breeze in our grasslands and add a splash of color to our forests. They come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and, habitat, but all flowering plants have the same structures.  They have roots to suck up water and nutrients, stems for structure and transportation of water and nutrients, leaves to capture sunlight, and flowers that will become fruit. All flowering plants produce fruit, but not all of them are fruit in the way we know them, as yummy treats. Fruit is what a flower makes that holds the seeds of the next generation and while some are edible, many are not.

Wild Blue Flax

Most wildflowers, like most plants, make their own food from water, carbon dioxide, and sunlight. This process of turning light energy into chemical energy that the plant will use as food is called photosynthesis. Chloroplasts are a special part of a plant cell that contains chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is a special light receptive pigment that uses sunlight to convert carbon dioxide and water into food. Chlorophyll is what makes a green plant green!

Black-eyed Susan

Some of our local wildflowers use a different process to obtain food. Some wildflowers do not contain chlorophyll and can not photosynthesize.  These wildflowers are dependent on other plants to get water and nutrients.  The Coralroot is one such wildflower. It gets its carbon, water, and nutrient supply from fungi.

Coralroot

Now is the perfect time to catch nature’s fantastic color show. Many of our native wildflowers are in full bloom.  Here are some of my favorites I have seen in the last week:

clockwise from top left, Wild Geranium, Pussytoes, Fairy Slippers, Harebell Bellflower

We are fortunate to live in an area so rich in color and biodiversity! Every time I am on a hike I discover something I have never seen before. See what you can discover! These guidebooks can help, Guide to Colorado Wildflowers and Wildflowers of the Rocky Mountain Region.  Enjoy the show!

Until next time, Happy Adventures! -Renée

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