Washington state is known for its diverse and beautiful wildflowers that adorn its parks, meadows, and forests. From the iconic state flower, the Pacific Rhododendron, to the delicate trilliums, there is no shortage of colorful and unique blooms to be found.
In this article, we will explore some of the most common types of wildflowers found in Washington, including their characteristics, habitats, and blooming seasons.
Whether you’re a nature enthusiast or simply looking to appreciate the beauty of Washington’s flora, read on to discover the fascinating world of wildflowers in this Pacific Northwest state.
1. Red Columbine
Red Columbine, also known as Aquilegia formosa, is a perennial wildflower that is native to western North America, including Washington state.
This plant produces distinctive red and yellow flowers that resemble the talons of an eagle, giving rise to its common name, “columbine,” which comes from the Latin word for dove.
Despite its beauty, it is important to note that Red Columbine can be toxic if ingested in large quantities, so it should be handled with care and kept away from pets and livestock.
Agrimony, also known as Agrimonia spp., is a genus of perennial wildflowers that produce small yellow flowers on tall, slender stems.
The flowers are arranged in spikes and bloom from mid-summer to early fall, attracting a variety of pollinators such as bees and butterflies.
3. Bride’s Bonnet
Bride’s Bonnet, also known as Tall Anemone or Thimbleweed, is a perennial wildflower that belongs to the buttercup family and produces distinctive white or pink flowers that resemble a bonnet or thimble, hence its common names.
Bride’s Bonnet typically blooms in late spring to early summer, and its flowers are arranged in clusters and have a delicate, papery texture. The plant’s leaves are deeply lobed and toothed, adding to its unique appearance.
Foxglove, also known as Digitalis purpurea, is a biennial wildflower that is native to Europe but has naturalized in many parts of North America, including Washington state.
This plant produces tall spikes of bell-shaped flowers in shades of pink, purple, and white, which bloom from late spring to early summer.
Balsamroot, also known as Balsamorhiza sagittata, is a perennial wildflower that produces large, yellow flowers that resemble sunflowers and bloom from late spring to early summer.
Balsamroot also has thick, hairy stems with large basal leaves that are arrow-shaped.
6. Bog Orchid
Bog orchid, also known as Platanthera dilatata, is native to wetlands and bogs throughout North America. This plant produces tall spikes of small, white flowers that bloom from late spring to early summer.
7. Spreading Phlox
Spreading Phlox, also known as Phlox diffusa, is a low-growing perennial wildflower that produces clusters of small, pink, or white flowers that bloom from late spring to early summer.
Spreading Phlox grows up to 6 inches tall and has small, needle-like leaves that are arranged in a spreading, mat-like formation.
8. American Toadflax
American toadflax (Linaria canadensis) is a herbaceous perennial plant that is sometimes referred to as blue toadflax (This wildflower is also present in Pennsylvania. Find out more about it.) or Canada toadflax.
The plant has numerous stems that are often branched and narrow leaves that are lance-shaped, with a bluish-green color.
Drops of Gold is a common name for a beautiful and showy perennial flower called Coreopsis verticillata ‘Zagreb’.
It belongs to the Asteraceae family and is grown in gardens and landscaping for its bright yellow-gold blooms and long-lasting flowering period, which typically lasts from early summer to fall.
The flowers are small and are arranged in clusters on tall, slender stems that sway gracefully in the wind. They have bright yellow petals and a dark yellow center, which gives them a striking appearance.
10. Subalpine Daisy
The subalpine daisy, also known as Erigeron peregrinus, is found in various locations across Washington state. It is a native wildflower species that grows in subalpine and alpine meadows and rocky slopes, particularly in the Cascade Range and Olympic Mountains.
In Washington, the subalpine daisy is commonly found in high-elevation areas above treeline, such as Mount Rainier National Park and North Cascades National Park.
It typically blooms in late spring to early summer, producing daisy-like flowers with white to pinkish-purple petals and yellow centers. The flowers can be found growing in clusters on short stems amidst the subalpine vegetation.
Fritillaria is a genus of bulbous flowering plants known for their distinctive bell-shaped or cup-shaped flowers that are often checkered or mottled with shades of purple, pink, yellow, or white.
There are many different species of Fritillaria, each with its own unique characteristics. Some species grow to be only a few inches tall, while others can reach heights of up to 6 feet.
12. Avalanche Lily
The Avalanche Lily (Erythronium grandiflorum), also known as Glacier Lily, is a perennial wildflower that typically grows in subalpine and alpine meadows and is one of the first flowers to bloom in the spring, often soon after the snow melts.
The Avalanche Lily has long, narrow leaves and produces a single flower on a tall stem. The flowers are usually white or pale yellow and have six petals that are shaped like narrow, pointed ovals.
13. Scarlet Paintbrush
The scarlet paintbrush, also known as Castilleja miniata, is a wildflower species that can grow up to 90 cm in height, but is typically shorter in subalpine and alpine environments.
It has narrow, lance-shaped leaves and produces clusters of bright red to orange flowers that resemble paintbrushes. The flowers are actually bracts, or modified leaves, which surround the small, inconspicuous flowers.
14. Pacific Rhododendron
The Pacific Rhododendron, also known as Rhododendron macrophyllum, is a flowering shrub that has large, evergreen leaves that are leathery and glossy.
The plant produces clusters of showy, bell-shaped flowers that range in color from white to pink, purple, and deep red.
15. Giant White Fawn Lily
The Giant White Fawn Lily, also known as Erythronium oregonum, is a perennial wildflower that is a member of the lily family (Liliaceae) and typically grows in moist, shady forests, often near streams or wetlands.
The Giant White Fawn Lily grows from a bulb and can reach up to 50 cm in height. It has one or two large, mottled green leaves and produces a single stem that bears one to three nodding, white, lily-like flower. The flowers have six petals, with the inner three petals often marked with yellow or orange.
16. Broadleaf Lupine
The Broadleaf Lupine, also known as Lupinus latifolius, is a wildflower species that has palmately compound leaves, with 7–11 leaflets.
The plant produces showy spikes of blue to purple flowers that are densely packed with individual pea-like flowers.
17. Venus Looking Glass
Venus’s looking glass (Triodanis perfoliata) is a wildflower that belongs to the family Campanulaceae and produces small, delicate flowers.
The flowers are usually light blue, but can also be white or pink. Each flower has five petals that are fused into a tube-like shape, with five lobes at the top that flare out to form a star-like shape.
18. False Lily Of The Valley
False Lily of the Valley (Maianthemum dilatatum) is a perennial flowering plant also known as Wild Lily of the Valley, Two-leaved Solomon’s Seal, or False Solomon’s Seal.
The plant produces small, white, star-shaped flowers that are arranged in a long, arching cluster. The flowers appear in late spring or early summer and are followed by red berries in the fall.
19. Leiberg Stonecrop
Also known as Leiberg’s sedum, or mountain stonecrop, this low-growing succulent plant has a clumping or mat-forming growth habit.
The leaves are fleshy and succulent, arranged in a rosette pattern, and are often tinged with red or purple at the edges.
The flowers are small and star-shaped, with five petals that are usually yellow, but can sometimes be white or pink. The flowers are also borne on upright stems that rise above the foliage in the summer months.
20. Star Solomon’s Seal
Star Solomon’s Seal (Maianthemum stellatum) is a herbaceous perennial plant with alternate, oval-shaped leaves and stems that are topped with clusters of small, white, star-shaped flowers in the late spring to early summer. The flowers have four to six petals with a sweet fragrance.
21. Scarlet Gilia
Scarlet Gilia (Ipomopsis aggregata), also known as Scarlet Trumpet or Skyrocket, is a showy wildflower that is native to western North America. It is a member of the phlox family (Polemoniaceae).
Scarlet Gilia is a biennial or short-lived perennial plant that grows up to 2–3 feet tall. The plant has narrow, lance-shaped leaves that grow along the stem, which are usually covered in fine hairs.
22. Western False Asphodel
Western False Asphodel (Triantha occidentalis) is a perennial plant species with long, slender leaves that are typically green but can turn reddish in the fall. It produces tall, thin stems that are topped with clusters of small, white flowers.
23. Western Virgin’s Bower
Western Virgin’s Bower (Clematis ligusticifolia) is a species of flowering vine native to western North America. It is a member of the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae) and is also commonly known as Pepper Vine or Yerba De Chivato.
The plant produces clusters of small, fragrant, creamy-white flowers with four petals and numerous stamens. The flowers are followed by feathery seed heads that can persist into the winter months, whilst the leaves are glossy, dark green, and have serrated edges.
24. Pacific Trillium
Pacific Trillium (Trillium ovatum) is a species of flowering plant that is a member of the lily family (Liliaceae) and is also commonly known as Western Trillium or Wake Robin.
The plant produces a single stem with three large, green leaves arranged in a whorl at the top. At the center of the leaves, it produces a single, showy white or pink flower with three petals and a sweet, floral fragrance.
25. Threadleaf Phacelia
Threadleaf Phacelia (Phacelia linearis) is a flowering plant species also known by the common names of Narrowleaf Phacelia or Threadleaf Scorpionweed.
The plant produces delicate, tubular flowers that are typically light purple to lavender, although they can also be white or pink. The plant also has thin, thread-like leaves that give it its common name.
26. Redwood Sorrel
Redwood Sorrel (Oxalis oregana) is a perennial plant species that is native to the redwood forests of the Pacific Northwest region, with clover-like leaves that are typically green and have three heart-shaped leaflets.
The leaves fold down at night and on cloudy days, which helps to conserve moisture. Redwood Sorrel also produces small, white to pink flowers that bloom in the spring and summer.
27. Littleleaf Buttercup
Littleleaf Buttercup (Ranunculus uncinatus) produces bright yellow flowers that typically have five to eight petals. The flowers also have green, lobed leaves that are arranged in a basal rosette at the base of the stem.
28. Twinberry Honeysuckle
Twinberry honeysuckle, also known as Lonicera involucrata, is a deciduous shrub that belongs to the Caprifoliaceae family and is also commonly known as black twinberry.
The shrub has oval-shaped leaves that are dark green and shiny, whilst the flowers are small and yellow, and they bloom in early summer.
The plant produces berries that are round and shiny, and they turn from green to red to black as they ripen in late summer to early fall.
29. Fairy Slipper
The fairy slipper, or calypso bulbosa, is a species of small orchid that is commonly known as the fairy slipper orchid or Venus’s slipper orchid.
The plant typically produces a single flower on a stem and has a distinctive shape with a pink, magenta, or purple pouch-shaped lip that is fringed with white or yellow hairs. The flower also has two long, narrow petals that curve downwards, and a third petal that is modified into a lip.
30. Bleeding Heart
Bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis) is a herbaceous perennial plant known for its distinctive heart-shaped flowers that hang from arching stems and appear in late spring or early summer.
The flowers of the bleeding heart plant are typically pink or white, and they have a unique shape that resembles a heart with a droplet hanging from the bottom.
The flowers are clustered on long, arching stems and the leaves of the plant are distinctive, with a delicate, fern-like appearance.
31. Dutchman’s Breeches
Dutchman’s Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria) is a flowering plant that belongs to the Fumariaceae family.
The plant gets its name from the shape of its flowers, which resemble a pair of pantaloons or breeches hanging upside down. These flowers are typically white or pale pink and appear in early spring, usually in April or May.
32. Curlycup Gumweed
Curlycup Gumweed (Grindelia squarrosa) is a plant species that produces bright yellow, daisy-like flowers that bloom from late summer to early fall. The leaves of Curlycup Gumweed are distinctive, with deeply serrated edges and a gray-green color.
33. Dwarf Purple Mimulus
Dwarf Purple Mimulus, also known as Mimulus nanus, produces clusters of small, trumpet-shaped flowers that range in color from pink to purple. This plant is a hardy one that can grow in a variety of habitats, including meadows, wetlands, and rocky slopes.
34. Marsh Marigold
Marsh marigold (Caltha palustris) is a native perennial plant that is commonly found in wetlands, swamps, and along stream banks throughout Washington State. It is also known by the common names cowslip, kingcup, and marsh cowslip.
Marsh marigold grows from a basal rosette of shiny, dark green, heart-shaped leaves. In early spring, it produces bright yellow, buttercup-like flowers. The flowers bloom for several weeks and are followed by attractive seed heads.
35. Alpine Saxifrage
Alpine saxifrage (Saxifraga biflora) is a small, herbaceous perennial plant that is native to mountainous regions of North America, including parts of Washington State. It is also commonly known as two-flowered saxifrage, and it belongs to the saxifrage family (Saxifragaceae).
The flowers of the Alpine saxifrage have five petals and a yellowy-green center, and they bloom from late spring to early summer.
36. Pacific Coralroot
Pacific coralroot (Corallorhiza mertensiana) is a species of orchid also known as western coralroot.
Pacific coralroot is a non-photosynthetic plant, which means that it does not produce its own food through photosynthesis as most plants do. Instead, it obtains nutrients from mycorrhizal fungi that are associated with the roots of other plants.
Pacific coralroot produces a cluster of fleshy, brownish-red stems that are topped with small, brownish flowers that are arranged in a raceme or spike.
37. Pearly Everlasting
Pearly Everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea) is a species of flowering plant typically found in dry, rocky habitats.
Its leaves are long, narrow, and covered in small hairs, whilst the plant blooms in the summer and produce clusters of small, white, button-like flowers.
38. Lewis Flax
Lewis Flax (Linum lewisii) is a species of flowering plant in the flax family with narrow and needle like leaves and flowers that are a bright blue color (though they sometimes have white or yellow centers).
Selfheal (Prunella vulgaris) is a species of flowering plant in the mint family, with oval-shaped leaves and a slightly hairy texture. The flowers that grow from this plant are small and bright purple, making them particularly eye-catching.
40. Tiger Lily
The tiger lily is a common wildflower in Washington, also known as the Oregon lily or the Washington lily due to just how popular they are.
The plant typically grows in sunny locations such as meadows, grasslands, and open forests, and can reach up to 4 feet tall.
It has narrow, lance-shaped leaves and produces large, showy flowers that are trumpet-shaped and range in color from white to pink to deep magenta.
41. Dusty Maidens
Dusty Maidens (Chaenactis douglasii) is a species of flowering plant that has finely divided, silvery-gray leaves and produces small, daisy-like flowers that are white or pale pink with yellow centers.
The touch-me-not flower (Impatiens capensis) can be found growing in moist, shady areas such as along streams, in wooded areas, and in wet meadows.
It is an annual plant that can grow up to 5 feet tall and has orange or yellow flowers that bloom from June to October.
Sweetclover (Melilotus officinalis) is a biennial or short-lived perennial plant that belongs to the legume family. Sweetclover grows up to 6 feet tall and has small, fragrant, yellow or white flowers that bloom from late spring to early fall.
The plant has deeply lobed leaves that are typically arranged in threes, and it produces long, slender seedpods.
Snowberry (Symphoricarpos spp.) is a genus of shrubs that are native to North America. They are often grown for their ornamental value, as well as for their ecological importance.
Snowberry shrubs typically grow to be 3–6 feet tall and wide, with small, pink, or white flowers that bloom in the spring or summer. The flowers are followed by clusters of small, white, or pink berries that persist through the fall and winter.
45. Miner’s Lettuce
Miner’s lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata) is a cool-season annual plant that gets its name from the fact that it was commonly eaten by gold miners during the California Gold Rush.
Miner’s lettuce has round or kidney-shaped leaves that are arranged in a rosette at the base of the plant. The leaves are edible and have a mild, slightly sweet flavor. The plant also produces small, white, or pink flowers that bloom from late winter to early summer.
The wildflowers that we have talked about in this list are important not only for their aesthetic value, but also for the ecological roles they play in the region’s ecosystems.
Many of them provide food and habitat for native wildlife, help to stabilize soil, prevent erosion and contribute to the overall health and diversity of the ecosystem.
Some of these wildflowers even have cultural significance for many indigenous communities in Washington, who have used them for food, medicine, and spiritual purposes for centuries.
The wildflowers of Washington State are an important and beloved part of its natural heritage. By appreciating and protecting these plants, we can help to ensure that they continue to thrive for generations to come.
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