Flora on the Forest Floor

This Spring in Colorado has been a gift. Thanks to mild temperatures and abundant moisture, the Boulder forests are resplendent with late Spring flora. The floor on the North Fork of the Shanahan Ridge is one of the best places to experience the joy of Spring’s reawakening.

The Shanahan Ridge Trail is easy to get to. My entry point starts where Lehigh and Lafayette streets intersect (Map search 1903 Lehigh Street Boulder). Parking is on the street.

Shanahan Ridge Access Point

Shanahan Ridge Access Point

The forest floor with its tall green grasses forms the stage where the plants will perform their evolutionary duties by producing sweet treats and visual clues to attract their pollinators. Fortunately these visual clues are very pleasing to humans and keep photographers busy.

Grassy Field

The Forest Floor with Foothills Backdrop

Here’s a bee caught in the act pollinating Blue Mist Penstemon. Note the yellow pollen sack on the hind leg. Blue mist covers large sections of the forest at its peak and it does look like mist…

Bee on Penstemon

Penstemon with Pollinating Bee

Asteraceae offer the butterflies a sweet treat in exchange for transporting its pollen to another aster…

Aster (Asteraceae) with butterfly

Aster with Butterfly

These shy Chiming bells (Mertensia fusiformis) have pink buds which turn blue to purplish…

Chiming Bells

Chiming Bells

The Blue Flax (Linum lewisii) makes no secret of its pollen…

Blue Flax (Adenolinum lewissi)

Blue Flax

Mouse-ear chickweed grows in bunches attracting crowds of insects…


Cerastium – Mouse-ear chickweed

Add Heart-leaved Arnica to the cast of flora …

Heart-leaved Arnica (Arnica cordifolia)

Heart-leaved Arnica

Here’s a glimpse of the National Center for Atmospheric Research with arnica…

NCAR with Arnica

NCAR with Arnica

No nature celebration is complete without Wild Roses (Rosa arkansana)…

Wild Rose on Rock

Wild Rose

The ladybugs (Coccinellidae) are prolific this time of year…


Ladybug Waiting for Lunch

Add some lonesome Western Wallflower (Erysimum capitatum) to the mix…

Western Wallflower

Western Wallflower

These southwest desert spikes of Yucca are throwing up their flower stalks. This is about as far north as these pointy plants can grow…

Yucca with Rock


Put all these plants together for ten thousand years or so (after the end of the last glacial period) and let them compete through natural selection with each other for survival on the forest floor. The result is a very pleasing panorama where the flora and fauna have all found their niche…

Shanahan Ridge Forest Floor

Shanahan Ridge Forest Floor


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