Red flowers have somehow always been associated with red roses; and for that reason red has been associated with love, passion, and romantic desire. However, red can always symbolize courage and bravery. Today, when we think about red flowers Valentine’s day probably pops into mind. Many red flowers exist in nature and they are gorgeous. Pink flowers are most closely associated today with a mother’s love — that is unconditional love. Pink is often thought about as a color for young girls, but they can be more versatile than that in their meaning. Pink flowers are less common in nature, but not rare by any means. Both red and pink flowers both instantly grab your eye, since they are so different from the green landscape surrounding them.
Indian Paintbrush: Castilleja linariifolia
Ouzel Lake Hike
June, Plains to Montane (up to 10,000ft)
We saw many many paintbrushes on our hike to Ouzel Lake. They created red blankets over the ground and framed the scenery beautifully, often mixed with yellow, blue, and purple flowers. There is another species, Castilleja miniata, but we did not see any of this guy around.
Rosy Paintbrush: Castilleja rhexifolia
Subalpine to alpine, June/July
These gorgeous flowers are bright pink and can be found in the subapline. Like their yellow and red counterparts they like areas near water and open meadows. We found the above flower in the willow section of the Bierstadt-Sawtooth-Evans hike. They are somewhat less common than the red and yellow variety.
King’s Crown: Rhodiola integrifolia or Tolmachevia integrifolia
James Peak Hike
This flower is a deep red and the flower itself forms a ‘crown’ atop the plant giving the flower its name. We found this guy on the southeast face of James Peak at around 12,500 ft. This magnificent flower has beautiful leaves that turn red as the summer comes to a close. If you find one of these plants on your hike stop a moment and take a look at the intricacies of this organism.
Queen’s Crown: Rhodiola rhodantha
Pear Lake Hike
Subalpine to Tundra, August
Queen’s Crown flowers look very similar to the Kind’s Crown flowers, however, the Queen’s Crown has more rounded flowers and is typically more pinkish than the deep red of the King’s Crown variety. Above you can see that the Queen’s crown liked the rocky area near Pear Lake and was only about 10 ft from the lake itself. The flower was close to a foot tall and had lovely blooms.
Dwarf Clover: Trifolium nanum
Grays and Torreys Hike
Alpine Meadows and Fields, June
These pretty pink flowers lie low to the ground and can be found in many rocky alpine regions. They like the sun and have large flowers compared to their leaves. We found these flowers on the saddle between Grays and Torreys.
Showy Milkweed: Asclepias speciosa
Hike: Dinosaur Ridge
This flower is tall and has large bracts with many “showy” flowers. It seems to attract butterflies and we were able to view a couple different species on the milkweeds at Dinosaur Ridge. We have seen this species of flower in the plains and foothills quite often, especially in areas with full sun.
Red Columbine: Aquilegia canadensis
Hike: Belford and Oxford
June, Rocky Mountains, around 10,000 ft., subalpine zone
The red columbine is a stunning flower that almost looks like a shooting star to me. We found a number of these plants on our hike in the subalpine zone in our hike of Belford and Oxford. It was a grueling hike and the variety of flowering plants (including this one) helped make the day enjoyable.