The old saying about Christmas as “the most wonderful time of the year” is clearly mistaken.
The most wonderful time of the year for us hikers is May through June as far as this old man of the mountains is concerned.
As the snow recedes, plants leaf out and wildflowers rush to get fertilized by pollinators so they can pass on their genes to the next generation. And the show is impressive.
Wildflowers bloom in successions as early bloomers arrive amidst late season snow storms and die back quickly as the sun rises higher in the sky. As the season progresses, more species show their stuff.
The first to show up are some of my favorites. In the understory of yet to leaf out trees are the Glacier Lilies (Erythronium grandiflorum). In open spaces, another lily relative, the Yellow Bells (Fritilllaria pudica) can dot whole hillsides.
Another yellow favorite that blooms early are the wild Violas. Though small, when observed close up, their true beauty can be observed.
Some wild forget-me-nots (Myosotis arvensis) and Spring Beauties (Claytonia virginica) add some pinks and blues to the mountains and foothills.
Some impressive large flowers arrive just after the glacier lilies such as Arrow Leaf Balsam Root (Balsamhoriza saggitata) and its cousin, Cut leaf Balsam Root (Balsmhoriza macrophylla), make an impressive appearance in our hills.
Also appearing are Indian Paintbrushes (Castillejas) with their bright red hues. There are several species that bloom in succession.
The succession applies also to elevation as species that bloom farther down the canyon will bloom a bit later as snow recedes from the high peaks.
Early June brings out two of my favorite species, our State Flower, the Sego Lily (Calachortus nuttallii), and the Wasatch Penstemon (Penstemon cyananthus).
Our foothills east of Lincoln and Erda are precious habitat for large numbers of our beautiful State Flower.
David Swan lives on the southeast side of Tooele City with a view of the Oquirrh Mountains.