Field Guide

Plants and wildflowers add to the beauty of our foothills and improve the air and water quality, enrich and maintain the soil, sustain wildlife and provide humans with food and medicine.

We hope this website enhances your enjoyment of our local wildflowers, grasses, shrubs, and trees. Learning their names brings a sense of familiarity that will develop as you continue to visit the Wenatchee Foothills and watch the progression of plants through the seasons. We hope that your growing appreciation of these plants will encourage you to preserve them for future generations. 

Resist the impulse to pick these beautiful wildflowers! Picking a wildflower prevents the next hiker from enjoying the same beauty. It also reduces the plant’s chance for survival, impacting the insects and animals that rely on it for food and shelter. Why not leave them for everyone to enjoy?

Interested in growing native plants in your garden? Visit one of our local nurseries for plants or seeds.

 

Arrow-leaf Balsamroot Yellow Wildflower Balsamorhiza sagittata May
Ballhead waterleaf Purple Wildflower Hydrophyllum capitatum April
Barestem biscuitroot Yellow Wildflower Lomatium nudicaule April
Bastard toadflax White Wildflower Comandra umbellata May
Bearded hawksbeard Yellow Wildflower Crepis barbigera May
Big sagebrush Shrub Artemisia tridentata July
Bitterbrush Shrub Purshia tridentata June
Bluebells Blue Wildflower Mertensia longiflora March
Bluebunch wheatgrass Grass Pseudoroegneria spicata
Bugloss fiddleneck Yellow Wildflower Amsinckia lycopsoides April
Bulbous Bluegrass Grass Poa bulbosa
Bulbous prairie-star White Wildflower Lithophragma glabrum March
Cat's ears White Wildflower Calochortus lyallii May
Cereal wild rye Grass Secale cereale
Cheatgrass Grass Bromus tectorum
Columbia goldenweed Yellow Wildflower Pyrrocoma carthamoides July
Columbian puccoon Yellow Wildflower Lithospermum ruderale April
Crested wheatgrass Grass Agropyron cristatum
Dalmation toadflax Yellow Wildflower Linaria dalmatica June
Diffuse knapweed White Wildflower Centaurea diffusa June
Douglas-Fir Tree Pseudotsuga menziesii
Douglas’ brodiaea Blue Wildflower Triteleia grandiflora April
Dusty maidens White Wildflower Chaenactis douglasii May
Field bindweed White Wildflower Convolvulus arvensis April
Geyer's biscuitroot White Wildflower Lomatium geyeri February
Gray rabbitbrush Shrub Ericameria nauseosa August
Great Basin Wild Rye Grass Great Basin Wild Rye
Idaho fescue Grass Festuca idahoensis
Large-flowered collomia Peach Wildflower Collomia grandiflora June
Linear-leaf Daisy Yellow Wildflower Erigeron linearis May
Long-leaf phlox Purple Wildflower Phlox longifolia April
Meadow death camas White Wildflower Zigadenus venenosus April
Needle and thread Grass Hesperostipa comata
Parsnip-flower buckwheat Yellow Wildflower Eriogonum heracleoides May
Ponderosa Pine Tree Pinus ponderosa
Russian knapweed Pink Wildflower Acroptilon repens June
Russian thistle Green Wildflower Salsola tragus July
Sagebrush buttercup Yellow Wildflower Ranunculus glaberrimus February
Sagebrush mariposa lily White Wildflower Calochortus macrocarpus June
Sagebrush stickseed White Wildflower Hackelia diffusa var. arida May
Salsify Yellow Wildflower Tragopogon dubius May
Sandberg bluegrass Grass Poa secunda
Shooting Star Pink Wildflower Dodecatheon pulchellum March
Silky lupine Purple Wildflower Lupinus sericeus May
Snow buckwheat White Wildflower Eriogonum niveum July
Squirreltail Grass Elymus elymoides
Stiff sagebrush Artemisia rigida July
Sulphur lupine Purple Wildflower Lupinus sulphureus April
Tall buckwheat White Wildflower Eriogonum elatum July
Tall tumblemustard Yellow Wildflower Sisymbrium altissimum April
Thompson's Indian paintbrush Yellow Wildflower Castilleja thompsonii April
Thread-leaf fleabane daisy White Wildflower Erigeron filifolius April
Three-tip sagebrush Shrub Artemisia tripartita July
Upland larkspur Blue Wildflower Delphinium nuttallianum April
Wavyleaf microseris Yellow Wildflower Nothocalais troximoides April
Wax currant Shrub Ribes cereum March
Western groundsel Yellow Wildflower Senecio integerrimus May
Western Serviceberry White Shrub Amelanchier Alnifolia May
White-leaf phacelia White Wildflower Phacelia hastata May
Whitetop White Wildflower Cardaria draba May
Woolly-pod locoweed Pink Wildflower Astragalus purshii February
Yarrow White Wildflower Achillea millefolium May
Yellow bells Yellow Wildflower Fritillaria pudica March

Bulbous Bluegrass

Common Name
Bulbous Bluegrass
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Scientific Name
Poa bulbosa
Plant Family
Plant Origin
Duration
Plant Type

Form: Bright, light-green appearance, easily identified by its dark purple bulbils

Height: Up to 2 feet

Flower: Does not reproduce from seeds, but from bulbs in the ground that multiply by sending new bulbs out laterally, or from bulbils (fleshy, detachable buds that are pear-shaped and approximately 1 cm long) that are produced in the flowers. These fall to the ground, root, and grow.

Stems: Erect

Leaves: Narrow, hairless, flat or loosely rolled, with "boat-shaped" leaf tips

Roots: Limited root system; grows new roots each season

Ecology: Growing in large patches across the landscape, and drying out early like cheatgrass. Often first invading species on shallow soils that are moist only during the winter and early spring. Drought tolerant. Bulbils are high in starch and fat so they are attractive to rodents and birds.

Weed control: Invasive species that reduces diversity and other organisms that depend on diversity. Invasive, but not aggressive, it can be eradicated by establishing a competitive perennial grass.

Bulbous prairie-star

Common Name
Bulbous prairie-star
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Scientific Name
Lithophragma glabrum
Scientific Pronunciation
lith-oh-FRAG-muh GLAY-brum/GLAB-rum
Plant Family
Plant Origin
Duration
Color
Plant Type
Typical Bloom (varies by elevation)
Additional Common Names
Woodland-star

Among the first plants to flower in the spring, prairie star is commonly found in the open, grassy areas of the shrub-steppe. The lobed white or pink petals cluster in ‘stars’ atop leafless two to ten inch stems. Leaves grow mostly at the base, about half to one inch long, with five wedge-shaped segments with three rounded teeth. The slender stems can be green or a distinctive dark red to purple.

This plant is called “bulbous” due to the reddish bulblets in intervals along the stem. The bulblets look like connectors between the stem segments. The bulblets fall to the ground, root, and produce new plants. This plant is thus called viviparous--a plant that reproduces by developing a new plant identical to itself while still attached to the parent plant. The fibrous roots have small bulblets that are a popular food among rodents but produce toxins that may poison domestic livestock.

Cat's ears

Common Name
Cat's ears
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Scientific Name
Calochortus lyallii
Scientific Pronunciation
kal-uh-KOR-tus ly-AL-lee-eye
Plant Family
Plant Origin
Duration
Color
Plant Type
Typical Bloom (varies by elevation)
Additional Common Names
Lyall's mariposa lily, Lyall's mariposa-lily

This small lily grows from a bulb and has one to several white flowers with petals, sepals and stamens in multiples of three. The hairy-edged petals look like a cat’s ear with a purple “eyebrow” at its base. The erect stem is four to twenty inches tall, with a flat leaf four to eight inches long and three quarter inch wide coming from the base.

Cereal wild rye

Common Name
Cereal wild rye
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Scientific Name
Secale cereale
Scientific Pronunciation
se-KAY-lee ser-ee-AY-lee/ker-ee-AY-lee
Plant Family
Plant Origin
Duration
Plant Type
Additional Common Names
Cereal rye, cultivated rye

Form:               Long stems with flower heads that look like grain

Height:              Up to 3.5 feet

Seedhead:        Spikes 1.5 to 5 inches, often nodding when mature

Seeds:              Propagated by seed

Leaves:             Half-inch wide blades

Roots:              Grows rapidly, and produces an extensive, fibrous root system.

Ecology:           Good drought and heat tolerance. Has the ability to smother and suppress plants with allelopathic compounds, which are herbicide-like chemicals that permeate the surrounding area. Like most weeds, it can outcompete other plants and decrease diversity in the region.

Cheatgrass

Common Name
Cheatgrass
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Scientific Name
Bromus tectorum
Scientific Pronunciation
BROH-mus tek-TOR-um
Plant Family
Plant Origin
Duration
Plant Type
Additional Common Names
Downy brome

Form:               Single-stemmed grass

Height:              8 to 24 inches

Seedhead:        Dense, drooping form 1 ½ to 8 inches long; pale green to purplish

Seeds:              Prolific seed producer that outcompetes native grass seedlings. Can produce in excess of 300 seeds per plant that remain viable for 2 to 5 years. Sharp-tipped seeds that collect in your clothes.

Stems:              Erect and slender

Leaves:             Flat, downy, hairy

Roots:              Fine fibrous root system. Roots grow faster and deeper than bluebunch wheatgrass at lower temperatures, giving it a competitive edge, especially in disturbed areas.

Ecology:           Very common plant in the shrub-steppe region. Valuable for forage. Provides some of the earliest green feed available to deer on some winter ranges. Although cheatgrass seed may be safe from most wildfires, the standing plant material provides a greater danger for increased incidence of wildfires in the landscape, shortening the fire cycle. Wherever native plants are removed, cheatgrass often takes over. This invasive species simplifies the environment and acts against the diversity of the plant community, which is not good for insect and wildlife diversity.

Weed control:   Fire, mowing, grazing, tillage, and inter-seeding of competitive native plants. Herbicides. Biological control is limited.

Columbia goldenweed

Common Name
Columbia goldenweed
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Scientific Name
Pyrrocoma carthamoides
Scientific Pronunciation
py-roh-KOH-ma kar-tha-MOY-deez
Plant Family
Plant Origin
Duration
Color
Plant Type
Typical Bloom (varies by elevation)
Additional Common Names
Largeflower goldenweed, rayless goldenweed

Columbia goldenweed is one of the last blooming wildflowers in our foothills, followed only by snow buckwheat, rabbitbrush, and tall buckwheat.

This robust plant grows one to two feet tall greenish-golden stems from its taproot. Long leaves, up to sixteen inches, grow mostly at the base, but smaller ones appear on the stem. The leaves are thick and tough, minimizing water evaporation. The large flowering heads at the ends of the stems have the look of a tiny pineapple with a fringe of yellow tufts on a flat top. This member of the Sunflower family lacks “petals”, having only dense clusters of slender tubular flowers. These flower heads remain intact through the winter.

Columbian puccoon

Common Name
Columbian puccoon
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Scientific Name
Lithospermum ruderale
Scientific Pronunciation
lith-oh-SPER-mum roo-der-AY-lee
Plant Family
Plant Origin
Duration
Color
Plant Type
Typical Bloom (varies by elevation)
Additional Common Names
Western stoneseed, western gromwell

Puccoon is common in the shrub-steppe, and is easily identified by a cluster of multiple long, leafy stems, eight inches to two feet tall, springing up from a woody tap root. The small, pale yellow-to greenish-white flowers of puccoon appear in late spring, partially hidden among the numerous leaves near the stem tip. The petals are fused at the base into a narrow tube with five spreading lobes that resemble a star. Stems are yellow-green and hairy, with narrow leaves, one to four inches long, all along the length. Each flower produces four cone-shaped, hard, bony seeds, or nutlets, only one of which matures into a shiny smooth white nutlet.

Native Americans used the seeds as decorative beads. The roots were a source of a red dye. The plant was also used as a poultice to help calm itching hemorrhoids.

Crested wheatgrass

Common Name
Crested wheatgrass
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Scientific Name
Agropyron cristatum
Scientific Pronunciation
ag-ro-PY-ron kris-TAY-tum
Plant Family
Plant Origin
Duration
Plant Type

Form:               Bunch grass in dense tufts.

Height:              2 to 3 feet.

Seedhead:        Very distinct flattened seedhead measuring 1½ to 3 inches in length and tapering toward the tip. The most distinguishing feature is that the spikelets (holding the seeds) greatly overlap, and are crowded together one up against the next.

Stems:              Leafy, slender, and erect.

Leaves:             Leaves are abundant, both at the base and along the stems.

                        Leaves are 6 to 10 inches long, about 1/4 inch wide, flat, and slightly hairy on the upper surface.

Roots:              Deep and extensive.

Ecology:           Extreme cold and drought tolerant. Good for wildlife; able to withstand heavy grazing.

Benefits:           Good for erosion control. Weed suppressive, especially with cheatgrass.

Fire tolerance:   Good.

Dalmation toadflax

Common Name
Dalmation toadflax
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Scientific Name
Linaria dalmatica
Scientific Pronunciation
lin-AR-ee-uh dal-MAT-ih-kuh
Plant Family
Plant Origin
Duration
Color
Plant Type
Typical Bloom (varies by elevation)

Dalmation toadflax grows up to four feet tall on a stout, erect, branching stem. It can easily be mistaken for a snapdragon with its bright yellow flowers that grow in a head at the end of the main stem. The flowers are about an inch long, with two lips and a pronounced opposing spur. The bottom lip is raised and covered with orange hairs. Bright-green waxy alternating leaves grow one to two inches long all along the stem and appear to have a powdery coating.

The common name toadflax may have originated because it was thought that the flower looks like a frog’s mouth, or perhaps because toads will sometimes shelter themselves amongst the branches of the plant.

Bumblebees are the usual pollinators but seeds are also spread by seed-eating birds. This plant has deep tap roots and extensive lateral roots, and is capable of forming colonies through buds from creeping root systems. It will aggressively colonize disturbed or cultivated ground and out-compete desirable native plant species.

Hand-pulling, mowing, and tillage can be effective in controlling Dalmation toadflax. Efforts must begin in early June and be repeated so that there are never more than seven to ten days with green growth visible. It is necessary to repeat control efforts for at least two years. Biological controls are also available.

Diffuse knapweed

Common Name
Diffuse knapweed
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Scientific Name
Centaurea diffusa
Scientific Pronunciation
sen-TAR-ee-uh dy-FEW-sa
Plant Family
Plant Origin
Duration
Color
Plant Type
Typical Bloom (varies by elevation)

Diffuse knapweed grows from long taproots into a bush up to two feet tall with a single upright stem sprouting many branches. The stems have fine, short hairs, giving the plant a gray appearance. The leaves are small, alternately arranged, and finely divided. White or pale lavender flowers at the tips of the branches resemble bachelor buttons.

Diffuse knapweed reproduces entirely by seeds. A single plant can produce up to 18,000 wind-dispersed seeds. These seeds are tightly held in the flower head, but are dislodged and dispersed over large distances when the plant stem breaks off later in the season and the plant becomes a tumbleweed.

Diffuse knapweed is an excellent source of nectar for bees and other insects in mid to late summer when other sources are scarce. However, this virtue is far outweighed by the plant’s ecological damage. Diffuse knapweed, like other knapweeds, is thought to release allelochemicals into the ground around it, preventing the growth of other plants. Its invasive behavior is enhanced by its tolerance for a wide range of soil conditions and climate, and its success in disturbed areas.

Small amounts of diffuse knapweed can be pulled by hand before the seed is set in summer. The sap may irritate the skin so wearing gloves is recommended.