Wildflowers in Southern Alberta Coulees

Last weekend (July 2, 2022), we visited some friends who live right on the edge of a coulee. Within five minutes, I spotted MANY blooming wildflowers. I was ecstatic! I didn’t have my phone with me, but I had hubby get his out and do some photography for me. Some were unknown varieties to me, but I’ve done my best to figure out what they are! Enjoy 🙂

Gaillardia aristata in bloom in the coulees

Great Blanketflower (Gaillardia aristata)! So bright and cheerful, they feel unexpected in a peaceful coulee setting. This plant blooms from June to mid-August and doesn’t get very tall in the coulees, but the flowers are very large!

Pincushion Cactus blooming in the coulees

Pincushion Cactus or Spiny Star (Escobaria vivipara). Breathtakingly beautiful, this vivid pink-flowered cacti has thorns easily an inch or more long! It blooms from approximately May to August.

(Notice some type of sage plant in the background as well).

Pincushion cactus bloom

Look at that stunning beauty!

Scarlet mallow blooming in coulees

Scarlet Mallow (Sphaeralcea coccinea). One of the most unexpected plants I came across…I genuinely didn’t even know these grew around here! They bloom from mid summer to fall.

Prairie Rose blooming in coulees

The ubiquitous Prairie Rose (Rosa arkansana). These are very low growing. Each flower blooms pink turning to white in a day, and in the fall there will be rose hips at the end of each branch.

White beardtongue blooming in coulees

White Beardtongue (penstemon albidus). A very attractive plant, it blooms from May-June but the weather this year made everything late, so that’s probably why it’s still blooming now!

Yellow buckwheat blooming in coulees

Yellow Buckwheat (Eriogonum flavum). It flowers in June, and obviously in July as well this year!

Harebell blooming in coulees

The unmistakeable Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia). A very sweet, delicate flower that blooms for a long time during the summer. I have lots of these planted in my yard, but none as large yet as the ones we saw in the coulees!

Canada Milk vetch blooming in coulees

I believe this to be Canada Milkvetch (astragalus canadensis). Bloom time is June to August.

Scarlet Gaura blooming in coulees

Scarlet Gaura or Scarlet Butterfly Plant (Gaura Coccinea). Incredible! These bloom in June and July. Apparently the flowers open up more at night, but don’t close fully during the day. This is the first time I’ve seen this plant and I’m awed by its intricate appearance.

Velvety Goldenrod blooming in coulees

Goldenrod- possibly Velvety Goldenrod (solidago mollis). There were lots of goldenrod, but the plants were tinier than any goldenrods I’ve seen before. Blooming in late summer, goldenrods are exceptional plants to include in your gardens for the insects. Just be sure to choose a variety that suits your space!

Ascending purple milkvetch blooming in coulees

Ascending Purple Milkvetch (Astragalus adsurgens). There are many different native types of milkvetch in the area, but this seems to be the closest match to what we found. These bloom from May to June. As you can see, this one is near the end of its bloom time.

An exceptional resource while researching these flowers was this Common Coulee Plants of Southern Alberta document.

I’ll have to go back in a month or so to check out what else is blooming! This short coulee visit made me realize once again why I’m working so hard to grow all these native plants.

Tell me, which flower is your favorite? Or have you unexpectedly stumbled across beautiful native flowers in your neck of the woods?

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