Wildflowers are not as plentiful as they once were.

Wildflowers fill our mountains and deserts, for now at least. But wildflowers are not as plentiful as they once were.

In the spring and summer the high mountain meadows of the Rockies and the deserts of the American Southwest are full of wildflowers. Unfortunately this may not last forever. They are not as plentiful. A study at the University of Colorado says that due to increased warming some wildflowers are beginning to dwindle and even die out in many locations in the high rockies.

“Every summer, hikers and photographers look forward to bursting blooms of alpine wildflowers in the high country of the Rocky Mountains. But as the climate changes, temperatures are rising, spring snowmelt is occurring earlier in the year, and shrubs are encroaching – a convergence of stressors that could cause the flowers to appear in smaller numbers or even go extinct.”

Wildflowers in Yankee Boy Basin in Colorado
Wildflowers in Yankee Boy Basin in Colorado

“It’s a problem that affects more than just the scenic beauty of the area. A wildflower decline could tip over a series of other dominos in the ecosystem, potentially affecting soil nutrient cycling, pollinators, invertebrate communities, and the food chains that depend on them. Researchers are concerned about these changes and are studying these ecosystems, looking for hints of the changes a warming climate could bring.”

Climate change is linked to local wildflower extinction in Colorado. As a result wildflowers are not as plentiful as they once were.

“University of Colorado postdoctoral researcher Anne Marie Panetta recently found a causal link between higher temperatures and the local extinction of one wildflower species, rock jasmine. Panetta says this short-lived species can potentially serve as an indicator species, showing scientists what might happen to other, longer-lived species.”

“Zooming in on a species that completes its lifestyle within one or two years is really helpful when you’re looking for changes across generations or changes in population levels,” Panetta says.”

Luckily, there are still a lot of wildflowers left in many locations. Below are some of the wildflower pictures I’ve taken over the last twenty years. However many scientists are now saying that these abundant fields wildflowers will not be here forever. They are just not as plentiful as in the past. See the link at the bottom of this page for more information.

Slick Rock Paint Brush in Arches National Park
Slick Rock Paint Brush in Arches National Park
Indian paintbrush and fog in Rainier National Park.  But wildflowers are not as plentiful as they once were.
Indian paintbrush and fog in Rainier National Park
Yankee Boy Basin is the premier spot for wildflowers in Colorado
Yankee Boy Basin is the premier spot for wildflowers in Colorado
Yankee Boy Basin is the premier spot for wildflowers in Colorado
Purple wildflowers and puffball in New Mexico
Sticky geraniums on Teton Pass in Wyoming.  But wildflowers are not as plentiful as they once were kn the Rocky Mountain West.
Sticky geraniums on Teton Pass in Wyoming
Naked Sunray in Capital Reef National Park
Plains Prickly Pear near Lake Powell.  Even in the desert wildflowers are not as plentiful as they once were.
Plains Prickly Pear near Lake Powell
Rudbeckia in Glacier National Park
Rudbeckia in Glacier National Park
Perry Primrose in the Wild Rivers of Wyoming
Perry Primrose in the Wild Rivers of Wyoming
Forest meadow and wildflowers near Shrine Pass Colorado
Forest meadow and wildflowers near Shrine Pass Colorado
Pink Paintbrush in Glacier National Park
Pink Paintbrush in Glacier National Park
White Columbines on Teton Pass in Wyoming
White Columbines on Teton Pass in Wyoming

Links to more information on climate and wildflowers

https://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2018/09/as-temperatures-rise-wildflowers-are-under-stress/

Climate warming causes local extinction of Rocky Mountain wildflower species

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