5 Popular Lake Tahoe Wildflowers
Lake Tahoe wildflowers are many and easy to find – they are everywhere. You can find them in vacant lots in the neighborhoods, while riding your bike or hiking on the trails, in the meadows or high above the alpine summits. Here are five popular Lake Tahoe wildflowers you can discover and enjoy.
Lake Tahoe wildflowers reveal themselves when the conditions are ideal to blossom – in the snow country that begins during spring’s snow melt in May. These conditions are an interplay of month of the year, soil moisture, elevation, and air temperature. When the conditions line-up they stimulate growth in a progression starting in late May to early June in the lower elevations (6,300-7,000 feet), and begin full bloom in late June early July. At higher elevations, above 8,000 feet, wildflowers bloom later due to lingering snowfields and cooler temperatures at high alpine meadows and summits.
The first Lake Tahoe wildflower to reveal itself is the Snow Flower, a neon-red alien looking flower found near melting snow patches in late May. While called a flower, it is actually a member of the fungi family. Nevertheless, this brilliant red “flower” calls out to be seen like a neon sign, is always a delight to discover your first one in the forest. A fun and easy ride or hike to locate them is on the Powerline Trail.
The next wildflower to blossom and be prolific is the Mule’s Ear. These beautiful yellow flowers with large leaves can be enjoyed everywhere. They are often confused with a very similar looking flower – the Arnica. Typically, they will begin blossoming in late May and early June. Depending on cool air temperatures they may linger well into July. A favorite early location to enjoy them is while hiking or riding your bike on Tahoe Mountain.
One of the favorite Lake Tahoe wildflowers is the Lupine. These majestic purple flowers propagate in vacant lots, meadows, trails and near the lake shore. You can find them at low elevations in early summer and later at higher elevations. Often when you discover one Lupine, they are among many – making for purple fields of majesty. These purple fields are a favorite for photographers and painters because of their color in contrast with the forest and sky. There is a wide variety of Lupine ranging in size from a few inches to a couple of feet in height. They too are abundant everywhere and one favorite place is riding near Fallen Leaf Lake.
Blooming Lupine indicate the conditions are right for another favorite Lake Tahoe wildflower – Indian Paint Brush. These fiery red flowers also stand out in the forest because of their flaming color. Not neon-red as the Snow Flower or as abundant as the Lupine, the Paint Brush becomes more like a treasure hunt in their discovery. They too have a few varieties described by their height and shape. A fun and easily accessible location to enjoy them with family and friends is along the trails of the Tahoe City XC Center.
Speaking of treasure hunts, one of the most elegant finds among the Lake Tahoe wildflowers is the Columbine. These delicate beauties may call you to move towards them and inspect their complex design and subtle colors. Not as abundant as the previously mentioned Lake Tahoe wildflowers, Columbines are a real treat to discover in the wild because they have become a favorite alpine flower among landscapers. One of the places they often appear is along the Camp Richardson bike path on the way to Baldwin Beach.
See if you can locate these five popular Lake Tahoe wildflowers. For more wildflowers.