Posts Tagged ‘Sunshine Canyon Trail’

Jewels in Boulder’s Banks

September 19, 2014

I’ve been taking Mandy the Dog to the Silver Lake Ditch at the Sunshine Canyon trailhead. She enjoys the snow melted water diverted from the Boulder Creek on her tired old legs…

Mandy Chills Out In Silver Lake Ditch

Mandy Chills Out In Silver Lake Ditch

Today’s tale started at the ditch bank while I was watching this wet retriever. I noticed a shrubby plant with delicate little red and yellow spotted flowers…

Jewelweed Plant on the Bank of the Silverlake Ditch

Remarkable Plant on the Bank of the Silver Lake Ditch

The flowers were remarkable to me for their color as well as their curved spur and pitcher-like shape…

A Pitcher-Like flower with a Curved Spur

A Pitcher-Like Flower with a Curved Spur

When I returned home I searched all of my favorite flower sites but I couldn’t find a match. Before declaring a new species I sought the help of a naturalist friend who identified this uncommon little plant as Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis). It is also known as spotted touch-me-not because the ripe seeds explode out of their pods when they are lightly touched.

Jewelweed was used for medicinal purposes by a number of native North American Indian tribes. It’s main value was as an external application for wounds and a range of skin complaints including poison ivy which ironically often grows nearby.

The jewelweed flower’s curved spur contains the nectar it uses to attract pollinators. It has been recently discovered that the shape of this spur is critical to pollination efficiency. The curvature of the spur influences the type of pollinator, the amount of time it spends as well as it’s position within the flower during pollination. The jewelweed flower and it’s pollinators are literally (I never use this term lightly) made for each other. This is an example of coevolution, a concept initially proposed by Charles Darwin. The bees and hummingbirds here in Boulder Colorado are attracted to jewelweed and the jewelweed has a spur to accommodate both hummingbirds and bees. Hummingbirds are bigger and carry a larger pollen payload so they are favored. I looked for a big hummingbird in the act but settled for this little bee…

Bee Find The Target

Bee Finds The Target

Aligns with Runway

Aligns with Runway

On Final Approach

On Final Approach

Pollination Underway

Pollination Underway

If bees could see they way we humans do (they don’t) here’s what the nectar approach would look like…

The Nectar Approach

The Nectar Approach

I also discovered this jewelweed poem by Betty Lies. Click on the title at the bottom to learn more…

We call it touch-me-not, this wildness

tense as a spring: Hands off,

it seems to say, but I know

something wound up

in the heart’s green coils

is crying Touch me. Touch me.

Touch me now. All fall

I have been drawn and drawn again

to one tall stand of jewelweed,

to touch the pendant seedpods,

feel them burst with life.

I understand it’s not just botany

that gives me such delight

running my fingers over their plumpness,

warming them till they explode

and scatter seed.

I have seen hummingbirds

bury their beaks in jeweled cups,

the bees delving so deep

you only know they’re inside

by the flower’s orange tremblings.

This autumn, when my body

keeps its secrets from me,

hiding something deep within,

it pleases me to feel

the life stored in those pods,

waiting for release, first now,

and then again to rise,

to rise after a slow cold winter.

-Betty Lies, Jewelweed©

Sugarbowls In Sunshine Canyon

May 18, 2013

It is springtime in the Rockies. The record snows of April have watered the foothills. The days are warm and the trails are covered with wildflowers. Mandy the dog and I were off to the Sanitas Valley Trail which is one of Boulder Colorado’s Cool Trails for Hot Dogs.

As soon as we got to the Centennial Parking Area we encountered a hiker excitingly reporting some sort of uncommon wildflower. She pointed me in the direction of an “undesignated” trail which I remembered as turning pretty steep and narrow up toward the Anemone Trail.

My first surprise was that this narrow footpath had been turned into a beautiful official trail by Boulder’s Open Space and Mountain Parks Department. The new trail is designated the Sunshine Canyon Trail.

Hey, a beautiful day a new trail and a rare flower! Let’s check it out…

Start at the Centennial Parking area and head toward the Red Rocks Trail which is on the south side of the lot…

The Centennial Parking Area is Our Starting Point

The Centennial Parking Area is Our Starting Point


Head Toward Red Rocks

Head South Toward Red Rocks


Our first stop is the Silver Lake Ditch. This new trail has plenty of cool clean Ditch water all summer and it is a Voice and Sight trail…

Mandy Hydrates For The Hike

Mandy Hydrates For The Hike

We follow the Trail west along Sunshine Canyon…

Head West Up The Sunshine Canyon Trail

Head West Up The Sunshine Canyon Trail


Our Hike Begins

Our Hike Begins

There is a profusion of flowers but all are the usual suspects…

Larkspur (Delphinium nuttallianum)

Larkspur (Delphinium nuttallianum)


Nuttall's Violets(Viola nuttallii) and Phlox

Nuttall’s Violets and Phlox


Oregon Grape (Mahonia repens)

Oregon Grape (Mahonia repens)


Pasqueflower (Pulsatilla patens)

Pasqueflower (Pulsatilla patens)


Sand Lily (Leucocrinum montanum)

Sand Lily (Leucocrinum montanum)


The trail winds its way through meadows and woods…
Heading West Through Meadows and Woods

Heading West Through Meadows and Woods


Sunshine Trail

Up the steps…

Mandy on Sunshine Steps

Mandy on Sunshine Steps


Come On Slowpoke!

Come On Slowpoke!

We finally happen upon a field of large purple wildflowers. These uncommon flowers, known as Sugarbowls, are hard to find here in Boulder. I have seen a few on the Goshawk Ridge Trail but this is the largest patch of Sugarbowls I’ve ever seen in one place…

Field Of Sugarbowls (Clematis hirsutissima a.k.a.Coriflora hirsutissima)

Field Of Sugarbowls (Clematis hirsutissima a.k.a.Coriflora hirsutissima)

Hairs covering the flower and its stalk give rise to its name “hirsutissima” or “hairy”. “Cori” is Greek for “leathery”, referring to the texture of the flower. Frederick Pursh named this species Clematis hirsutissima in 1814 from specimens collected by Meriwether Lewis in Idaho in may of 1806. “Clematis” is an ancient Greek name for various climbing plants.

We Found Our Hairy, Leathery Beautiful Sugarbowls

We Found Our Hairy, Leathery, Beautiful Sugarbowls

After my photography session we continue west into the woods…

Into the Wood We Go

Into the Woods We Go

Until we reach the west end of the Trail…

The West End Sunshine Canyon Trail is 1.3mi/2.1km from Start

The West End Sunshine Canyon Trail is 1.3 mi/2.1km from the Start

Mandy gets to cool down and rehydrate in the Sunshine Canyon creek…

Mandy Cools Down for the Return Trip In Sunshine Creek

Mandy Cools Down for the Return Trip In Sunshine Creek


It’s time to head back…
It's Time To Head Back

Into the Woods and Back Down the Canyon We Go


Sunshine Canyon Trail

The view east reveals Boulder’s Red Rocks

Boulder's Red Rocks Means We Are Back

Boulder’s Red Rocks Means We Are Almost Back

We had many treasures to savor on this pretty little trail. We also found our wildprize…

Sugarbowl Treasure

Sugarbowl Treasure


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