Wildflowers, Ferns, and Trees 
of the
Four Corners Region of 
Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, & Utah

1) Introduction to this website 
2) Searching and browsing 
3) Key to photographs and descriptions 
      a) Plant names     
      b) Vegetation zones and habitats
      c) Season of bloom, place & date of           photograph
      d) Range maps
4 ) Authors, technical details, copyright

1) Introduction

Welcome to my website;  I hope it shows you the beauty of the plants of the Four Corners states and helps you identify these plants.  

Photographs and descriptions of 1000 species of wildflowers, ferns, and trees found within a 150 mile radius of the Four Corners area of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah appear in this educational/reference website.  Each plant appears in a number of photographs showing the entire plant and distinctive parts of the plant such as the flower, leaf, and hairs.  Photographs are accompanied by details about the plant's blooming time and place, unusual plant characteristics, interesting growth habits, when and where the plant was first found for science, the meaning of the plant's scientific name, etc. 

Click your way into these plants and you will find photos and descriptions of Cactus in deserts and Spruce in 14,000 foot mountains, flowering shrubs in canyons and short-lived flowers in dry washes, plants hanging on sandstone rock faces, and dwarf wildflowers in alpine meadows. This diversity thrives in the approximately 9,000 square miles encompassed by this website.  The area includes Mesa Verde, Canyonlands, Arches, and Canyon De Chelly National Parks; Escalante/Grand Staircase, Natural Bridges, Hovenweep, Canyons of the Ancients, El Malpais, and El Moro National Monuments; the San Juan, Chuska, Abajo, and La Sal Mountains; and many other wild areas of and near the Colorado Plateau, those lands drained by the middle section of the Colorado River.

Many of the plants found in the Four Corners area are also found in nearby states, even in distant states, and even in other countries  --  we live on a green and blue sphere where everything is related to everything else.

I hope your visit to this website is profitable and enjoyable and gives you some idea of the wild beauty of the Four Corners.

I further hope this website promotes an appreciation for plant diversity and beauty and contributes to the protection of plant habitat and to the protection of the creatures that thrive on these plants.  If we each become involved in planning efforts of the United States Forest Service, National Park Service, and Bureau of Land Management and if we each work locally for the protection of open spaces and the control of urban and rural sprawl, we can protect plants and their habitat.  Joining national organizations such as the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, Sierra Club, Wilderness Society, Nature Conservancy, and Audubon Society; local organizations such as the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and San Juan Citizen Alliance; and other national and local environmental groups is a further way to ensure that the plants remain. 

Taking walks in the wild is the best way to ensure that we remember the value of wild beauty and what brings us happiness.

Join the Native Plant Society in your state and enjoy, learn about, and help to preserve the native plants of your area.  See the Links page for Native Plant Societies in the Four Corners area.  

This website is the endeavor of 
Al Schneider of Lewis, Colorado.
I welcome your
comments and suggestions.

When you are on public land please remember:
Take only pleasure.
Do not take any plant or pick flowers.

If you wish to own wild plants,
click to purchase them from legitimate plant nurseries.

Photographs, written material, design, and all other aspects of this website are ©Al Schneider. No aspect of this website may be used for any purpose -- personal, not-for-profit, governmental, or commercial -- without the permission of Al Schneider.
Email Al
  or phone (970-882-4647) for permission and commercial prices.
Proceeds from the sale of Al's photographs pay for this website


 2) Searching and browsing

1) On the opening page you will find several methods for searching: you can search or browse photos by color, by plant type, by plant characteristics, by plant name, or you can search this entire website by any word or phrase.

2) If you are trying to identify a plant you have found, you will find a data base on the opening page that allows you to identify a plant by clicking on key characteristics, such as, color, habitat, elevation, etc.

3) If you are searching for a particular flower by color, be sure to look in several color sections, especially if the flower color is light blue, light pink, or white. 

4) Remember too that because of variations in growing factors almost any species can look dramatically different from one location to another.

5) Handy points to remember when searching and browsing this website:

A) If you do not find a plant in this website under the name you normally use for it, type that name in the "Search" box to see if the name has been changed.

B) To move to the top of a page, click on a hot pepper: Pepper

or click a yellow/pink/black Southwestern graphic,


C) Most links open in new tabs or new pages.


I hope you derive maximum enjoyment from the descriptive information and photographs on my website, but your enjoyment can be hampered because some computers use very high resolution monitor display settings and the result can be small print and small photographs. You can leave the resolution at the manufacturer's recommended high setting for sharpness and clarity and still increase the font and photograph size for better viewing. To do this when you are on a web page, magnify the screen. The way you do this varies with Apple, Windows, or the browser you use, but many people will be able to do this by holding down the CTRL key and using the scroll wheel on the mouse.

3) Key to photographs

  This website provides photographs and descriptions of about 1000 wildflowers, shrubs, ferns, and trees of the area within a 150 mile radius of the Four Corners.

1) There are two major sets of photographs: thumbnails and full-sized. 

Several dozen thumbnail pages contain numerous close-up photographs of the flower, leaf, or some other key identifying characteristic of each plant. These thumbnails are grouped by color and then alphabetized by family, genus, and species.  

Clicking on a thumbnail photograph will take you to a page with a number of full-sized photographs of the plant shown in the thumbnail. 

Descriptive text accompanies each page of full-sized photographs.

2) This is an educational/reference website and the intent of the photographs and descriptions is to assist you in identifying and enjoying plants of the Four Corners area.

3) Plant names in bold are those accepted on this website as the most up-to-date, as listed in BONAP and the Synthesis of the North American Flora, products of over 45 years of labor by national plant authority John Kartesz. These names are almost always in accord with those used by the authoritative Flora of North America. Some plant names used by the USDA Plants Database and some regional floras are not the most up-to-date names; they are considered Synonyms and are listed as such on this website.

4) Many factors affect plant growth and, therefore, the plant you find in the field could vary in appearance from the ones shown on this website.  The plant you encounter could be taller or shorter, and it could have more or fewer flowers, be a different shade or color, be solitary or in groups, etc.

5) Every year I add hundreds of new new photographs and more text to this website.


3) Key to descriptions

     In the first three lines of each plantís description you will find basic information: 
a) Plant names
b) Vegetation zone in which the plant is commonly found  and  Habitat in which it commonly grows 
c) Season of bloom  and  Place and date the photograph was taken 

Each of these is discussed below.

    a) Plant names

Each plant is identified by one or several common names most often used in the Four Corners area and by the scientific name accepted by John Kartesz in his labor of over 45 years, BONAP. Scientific names shown in bold are the currently accepted names according to Kartesz.  Scientific names shown in normal font are synonyms.

See the Plant Names page for a detailed discussion about why we should use scientific names, not common names, how scientific names are arrived at, a brief history of the development of scientific names, and why scientific names change.  Very interesting.

Key to descriptions, continued

b) Vegetation zones and habitats

Variations in the growth patterns and number of plants in a particular area are brought about by a number of factors:

A) Plant growth is significantly affected by seasonal variables such as temperature, precipitation, sunshine, and wind and by local variables such as temperature, soil composition, soil moisture, elevation, slope, and direction of slope of the land.  Thus a sandy, shady, moist, north facing hillside after good spring rains promotes the growth of plants quite different from those on a rocky, sunny, dry, south facing hillside after a dry spring.  These differences are apparent everywhere in the world.  

B) Disturbance by animals (especially by human animals) produces significant changes in the appearance of plants or even the existence of plants.  

C) Elevation variations produce significant differences in plant growth because of significant differences in temperature, wind, moisture, soil conditions, solar radiation, snow pack, etc.  Since elevation in the Four Corners area varies from under 5,000 feet to over 14,000 feet, it is elevation that produces the most profound impact on plants and thus is the basis of the vegetation zones in the area.

Vegetation Zones in the Four Corners area (applies with some variations in many Rocky Mountain areas):

Alpine: Above 11,500-11,700 feet (tree line).  Characterized by tundra: land of thin soil, rocks, a very short growing season, and frost any day of the year.  Annually 30-55 inches of moisture, most from snow (200 to 400 inches per winter). Magnificent carpets of dwarfed flowering plants in June, July, and August.

Subalpine: From 10,000 to 11,500 feet.  Characterized by thick Spruce/Fir forests.  Aspens grow at lower elevations in this zone.  Annually about 25-40 inches of moisture, most from snow (about 250-350 inches).  Lush wildflower growth mid-June through August.

Montane: From 8,000 to 10,000 feet.  Open Aspen forests, sometimes with heavy undergrowth of shrubs (Snowberry, Currants, Elderberry).  Colorado Blue Spruce in moist areas.  At lower elevations some large stands of Ponderosa Pine with scattered Douglas Fir on north facing slopes.  Annually about 18-30 inches of moisture, 1/2 to 3/4 from snow.  Moderate to lush wildflower growth from June-August.

Foothills (including Mesas): From 6,500 to 8,000 feet. Pinyon Pine, Juniper, and Oak forests, often quite thick.  Pockets of Douglas Firs.  Ponderosa Pines at higher elevations.  Numerous shrubs: Serviceberry, Mountain Mahogany, Snowberry.  Annually about 14-25 inches of moisture, about half from snow.  Moderate to very good wildflower growth in May and June, highly dependent on winter and spring rains.

Desert and Semi-desert (including Canyons): Typically from 4,000 to 6,500 feet. (Some areas as low as 2500 feet in deep canyons.)  Arid. Annually 5-14 inches of moisture, 1/4 or less from snow.  Desert and semi-desert areas are characterized by open, sandy flats with scattered shrubs (Saltbush, Sagebrush) and Cottonwoods along washes.  Higher semi-desert canyons have Pinyon Pine, Juniper, and Oak with some thick patches of Yucca, Sagebrush, Mountain Mahogany, and other shrubs.  Wildflower growth is best from March to June but is highly dependent on winter moisture.

Habitats in the Four Corners area (applies with some variations in many Rocky Mountain areas):

Some plants bloom only in special, very limited habitats; others tolerate a variety of growing conditions.  The following twelve categories are used to describe the habitats of the Four Corners area:  

Tundra:  Land above tree line characterized by a short growing season, intense sun and wind, thin soils, very high snow fall and high rain fall, and low-growing sedges, grasses, dwarf shrubs, and herbs.

Scree: Fields (often extensive) of small, loose, slab rock.  Common below tree line and very common above tree line. Pockets of endemic wildflowers where soils accumulate.

Woodlands: Areas forested with one or more species of the following: Spruce, Fir, Pine, Aspen, Oak, Juniper, Douglas Fir.

Wetlands: Wet meadows, fens, seeps, rivulets.

Streamsides: Moist areas along streams.

Openings: Small to large rock or meadow clearings (caused by soil conditions, fire, or man) in woods or grass and shrublands.

Meadows: Grass, shrub, and wildflower-filled large open areas with few, if any, trees.

Rocks: Areas of large rock in canyons or mountains.

Canyons: Deep and long depressions with rock walls and cliffs and rubble slopes.  Pinyon Pine, Juniper, and Sagebrush are common.

Shrublands: Arid lands characterized by shrubs, grasses, and a lack of trees.

Disturbed areas: Roadsides, mined areas, timbered lands, avalanche chutes, slumps, mud-slides.

Semi-deserts: Shrublands, grasslands, Pinyon-Juniper woodlands, or sandy, sparsely vegetated or relatively barren lands.


Key to descriptions, continued

c) Season of bloom, place and date of photograph

In this website the words "spring", "summer", and "fall" describe the blooming/growing seasons, but a word of caution is necessary: spring in the semi-desert country at 5,000 feet begins in March but spring at 11,000 feet (often just a few miles away) does not set in until June or July.  In this website "spring" refers to March - May; summer is June - August; and fall is September - November.

The place and date the photograph was taken give you a rough idea of where and when to find the plant in bloom.  Because of variations in cloud-cover, wind, rain, and snow, the blooming date for a plant in the same location can vary several weeks from year to year.  Because of elevation differences, sunny versus shady exposure, wet versus dry conditions, and variations in soil conditions, the blooming date for the same plant in different locations varies even more.

You will, of course, be able to find a plant not only in the place where the photograph was taken, but in many other areas of similar growing conditions, especially elevation, near the Four Corners states of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah.  Some plants shown are very wide-spread and occur throughout the Rocky Mountains or even in many other areas of North America and the world.  (Because my wife Betty and I live in Colorado so close to several of its wonders (San Juan National Forest, Mesa Verde National Park, and Canyons of the Ancients National Monument), the majority of photographs are from Colorado.  All photographs are from Colorado unless otherwise stated.)

Some plants have a very short blooming period; others bloom the entire summer.  Some plants put out a single flower; others have numerous flowers, either over a long period of time or within a few days.  Some individual flowers last part of a day; others for many days. Some flowers open in the morning, some in the afternoon, several in the evening. Some stay open until they wither.

Remember that if you see a favorite flower just past bloom at 9,000 feet, it very well might be in full bloom at 11,000 feet.  

In sum, blooming period, place, and date vary with the species, the location, and the growing conditions.

Range Maps

Range maps are ©John Kartesz, Floristic Synthesis of North America, Biota of North America Program (BONAP)

Field botanists and amateurs are always finding plants in new areas of the United States so John Kartesz continually updates The Synthesis and his BONAP website with new county and state records. The updates may not be posted on this Four Corners Flora website.  My intent in presenting the range maps, current as of 2015, is to show you the general distribution of the plants. 

If you would like precise distribution information, see the Biota of North America website and purchase the Synthesis, soon available.

The Synthesis DVD presents many options not available here on my website: The range maps on the DVD can be magnified, cropped, and copied.  Pointing to a county with your cursor gives you numerous details, including where specimens of the plant are preserved. The DVD will include 150,000 photographs. You can key plants using the DVD. You can compile plant lists for your state, your county, your zip code, etc.

The DVD also includes information about subspecies and varieties; this Four Corners website has some range maps for these.

If you have any questions about the distribution information, feel free to email me.

Maps are color-coded as follows:

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Questionable presence

Authors, technical details, credits, and copyright


This website is my labor of love. I am Al Schneider and with my wife, Betty, I have been fortunate to live in southwest Colorado for many years. We have roamed, enjoyed, and learned about the mountains and deserts with our pups and constant companions, Willi and Pepper. Before retiring, I was an English professor, Ozark Trail designer with Missouri State Parks, backcountry guide in my own business, and computer-based educator with the Ute Mountain Ute Indian Tribe.

Betty was a Special Education teacher and paramedic firefighter.  Betty taught CPR and First Aid classes for 40+ years. She loves hiking and snow shoeing. In wildflower season she turns on her superb eye and spots hard to find flowers. Year-round Betty is a passionate and expert chef and beader. Click to see her beadwork on this website.

This website grew out of a volunteer project that Betty and I undertook in 1999 and 2000 to produce two volumes of plant photographs and descriptions for the San Juan National Forest Visitor Information Services in Southwest Colorado.  The volumes are available for visitors to view in the Dolores and Durango Offices of the San Juan National Forest.

In February of 2001 I published this website so the beauty of the Four Corners region could be enjoyed by an even wider audience.


Cameras: Photographs on this Four Corners Wildflowers website dated before March, 2004 (there are only about a dozen of these left on the website) were taken on film with a Minolta Freedom Zoom 38-135mm (a "point and shoot" camera).

During the summers of 2004 and 2005 I replaced about 1,000 film photos with digital photos taken with my very nice digital Olympus C-750 camera.  During each of these summers, I also added about 1,000 new photographs, including photographs of several hundred new species. In each of the following years I added new species and several hundred new photographs of plants already on the website. 

In April of 2010 I began photographing with the very good Panasonic FZ35 camera which, unfortunately, stopped working in July of 2014. In August of 2014 I purchased the excellent Sony RX10. I have never had a camera that produced such sharp photographs under all conditions.

Each year new photographs are shown in the Recent Additions section of this website.

Why don't I use a Single Lens Reflex (SLR) camera? 

I grant that high quality SLRs do produce remarkably sharp photographs, but the quality comes with a price, not just a dollar price.

1) Inevitably, especially here in the southwest U.S., dust will get into the SLR camera body when lenses are changed. 

2)  SLRs and lenses take up too much space in the pack, weigh too much, and are very awkward to carry around your neck. I stop and shoot photos as I enjoy hikes, so I always keep my camera around my neck on a binocular double shoulder strap.

3) Since all of my photos are reduced in size for my wildflower website, I do not need the largest file size, highest quality photographs.

Web making software: I designed the original Four Corners Wildflower website with Microsoft's Front Page web-making software which made many aspects of web design easy and fluid, but which also had a number of serious flaws.  In September of 2008 I switched from Front Page to Dreamweaver, a much more versatile web page software.

Statistics about this website: There are over 1,200 pages, 250,000 words, 5,000 photographs of 1,000 species, and several thousand links (internal and external). The website is one gigabyte. I have enjoyed over 15,000 hours of pleasurable work on this website, and I have been so fortunate in being able to spend additional thousands of hours in the field finding plants to enjoy, photograph, and describe for you.


Unless otherwise noted, all photographs are by Al with Betty's assistance -- that's her (just out of view) holding the ruler in many photographs.  Text, website design, and website maintenance are by Al.  

Since September 2015, my website has been hosted by the
Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory
of Gothic Colorado.
Paul Ehrlich considers RMBL
"the finest biological research station in the world",
and I am so appreciative of their support.

I also give a big thanks to Ed and Michele Fink
who hosted this website for many years when they had their business, MYDURANGO.NET.

The Red Pepper, petroglyphs, and Southwestern strip design are from RT Graphics.

See my bibliography for the expert floras that I am indebted to. 

The name in bold for each plant on my website comes from John Kartesz's website, BONAP, which provides county by county records of every species in the U.S. and Canada, keys to plants, 150,000 photographs, maps, etc.  I thank John for all his years of work, for allowing me to use his range maps, and for sharing many hours of botanical conversations via telephone between North Carolina and Colorado.  

My love and thanks to my wife, Betty the beader, superb chef, amazing wildflower spotter, and my constant companion.  Betty is always a joy and surprise to be with.

And my gratitude to my pups, Willi Coyote, and Pepper. Willi was the first dog in my life. She adopted Betty and me in 2006 and she was my constant companion until her death on June 1, 2017. Willi was a Border Collie/Golden Retriever cross and was so intelligent, caring, and respectful. She was always eager for exploring and hiked thousands of miles with me. She was incredibly loving and always watched over me. Her big eyes and always friendly manner endeared her to everyone. I owe so much to her. You can see her in many photographs on this website. Here are just a few photos: Willi1, Willi2, Willi3.

Willi is now followed by Pepper, also a loving Border Collie cross, but this time, with a Greyhound making her full of the powerful urge, really the powerful need, to run. She is amazing to watch. And she too watches over me on all of our many hikes. Willi was calm and loving; Pepper is wild and loving.

If only we human beings would emulate the critters of our beautiful world.

And oh
what a world this would be
if we all walked and felt the world of wildflowers.


Photographs, written material, design, and all other aspects of this website are
© Al Schneider.
No photographs, graphics, or text in this website may be used for any purpose  -- 
personal, not-for-profit, governmental, or commercial  --
without the permission of Al Schneider. 
Email Al
  or phone (970-882-4647) for permission and commercial prices.

Proceeds from the sale of Al's photographs pay for this website.