In honor of National Wildflower Week (yes, apparently that’s a thing), I hereby present a short guide to my favorite wildflowers. I am as far from an expert that you could possibly get and don’t even own a book on flora, so I’ve learned the names of these from my hiking partners. In other words – if any of these are wrong, blame my friends.
First up, lilies. I love lilies. My absolute favorite flower is the Tiger Lily (left), and I have yet to see one without emitting a high-pitched squeal of joy. These just say SUMMER to me. I’ve only seen the Chocolate Lily (right) once, but look! So cool! So elegant! So named after my favorite food group!
The Glacier Lily starts popping up in late spring/early summer depending on the elevation (we saw a bunch of them last week on Sauer’s Mountain) and make quite the impressive display in an alpine setting.
Even prettier, the Avalanche Lily! I’ve seen huge fields of these in Spray Park and Summerland on Mount Rainier.
Columbine (left) signals the beginning of summer to me. I usually see these popping up on Poo Poo Point in June, then giddily follow their development as the snow melts in the higher climes. Calypso Orchids (right) can be deceptively hard to spot and a pain in the ass to photograph, but man alive, so pretty. I usually find these east of the crest, but have been surprised by them once or twice on exotic Tiger Mountain.
Aah, Beargrass. If you ever decide to hike Bandera Mountain (or any other open-sloped trails along I90), do it in late June when it turns into a veritable wonderland of these purdy stalks.
I have a special affinity for Paintbrush since one of our very first hikes (to good old Noble Knob); I remember the trail being lined with beautiful shades of red, and it was one of the moments that made me fall in love with these mountains.
Winner of the best smell category: Lupine. I’ll never forget the scent of sun-warmed lupine on the Wonderland Trail. It was like walking through a cloud of perfume, except it was light and airy and not gross (I really hate perfume).
Shooting Stars will always remind me of the Teanaway, which automatically puts them on the favorites list. They’re quite easy on the peepers, too.
A lot of these flowers excite me so much because they symbolize the changing of the seasons, and Trillium is the official herald of spring. When these start popping up in the Issaquah Alps, I know lighter, greener days are coming.
Another spring favorite – Balsamroot! These flourish east of the crest, and warrant at least one drive across the mountains every April or May for a petal pilgrimage.
Last but not least, my second favorite flower – actually, as far as I can understand, this is when the Western Pasqueflower has gone past the flower stage; these are the seed heads! Also known as Western Anemone, I usually call them fuzzbuckets or hippie heads, especially when there’s a whole flock of them gathered like a miniature Woodstock Festival.