Identifying Wildflowers

Identifying Wildflowers

By: Meg Atteberry

As spring and summer approach we couldn’t be more excited about wildflower season. Each year, our favorite natural landscapes bounce back to life in an explosion of color that leaves us feeling in awe of nature. One of the best ways to enjoy the season is to learn how to identify wildflowers. Through flower identification, you can learn about the different flowers and their uses as well as fun facts about these natural jewels.

Grab a Book

Before you set out to learn about wildflowers, consider grabbing a book about the local wildflowers in your region. Books are sometimes more useful than apps. Having a physical item that you can page through inspires you and holds some weight mentally (see what we did there?).

Use the book to find and identify wildflowers while you’re on a hike or page through from your front porch. Eventually, you’ll learn to spot your favorite blooms without a reference. What’s great about books (and sets them apart from the apps) is that you can learn how to cultivate and breed wildflowers for your own, locally-inspired garden.

A red wildflower.

Or Snag an App

For the tech-savvy wildflower, enthusiast consider downloading an identification app for your wildflower hunt. Save your favorite varieties and tag rare flowers to watch out for while you meander through stunning, lush valleys. A few of our favorite wildflowers ID apps are:
  • Botany Buddy
  • LeafSnap - the American Northeast
  • GMS Wildflowers - Great Smoky Mountains region
  • Flower Pedia

Paid and free options are available for all apps so choose a platform that works with your budget and interests.

A wildflower.

Go for a Hike and Snap Photos

Head out on a hike and explore your favorite wildflower hikes. Hunt around during different times of the wildflower season to spot different flowers. Lots of flowers bloom during different times, so the same hike can be a totally different experience even if you space your hikes just a few weeks apart. While you’re hiking look at specific characteristics to identify flowers. Some specifics to check while you’re learning new flower identification are:
  • Leaf structure. What do the leaves look like?
  • Check out the buds. If the flower hasn’t bloomed, you may have to come back. But can you expertly identify wildflowers by just looking at the budding flowers? Now that’s the expert mode!
  • The petal structure. Many times wildflowers can come in a variety of colors - even the same flower in a different field can be dramatically different. Use the petal structure to clearly identify wildflowers.
  • Note the time of year. Some wildflowers flowers only bloom for a short time - think weeks! So you’ll have to be diligent to really ID those rare flowers.

An orange wildflower

Bring a Notebook and Draw Yourself

Looking to level up your wildflower game? Consider drawing your flowers! Even if you aren’t an artist, taking the time to draw what you see brings you closer to nature. Stopping and drawing a flower allows you time to slow down, reflect, and get a more personal experience with the macro nature you find on your hike.

Don’t worry about making your notebook perfect. You don’t need to be Picasso, but just make it something that inspires you. No one has to even see your notebook, so create something that’s meaningful to you. Write notes about where you saw the flower, how the day was, write a poem, write down a meaningful thought, whatever sparks joy for you!

A wildflower.

Now you’re ready to get started with wildflower identification in your local region. Grab an app, go out on a walk, and see what it is you uncover this spring.

About the Author: Meg Atteberry

Meg ditched the 9-5 world as an architect in pursuit of adventure. Now a freelance writer for the outdoor industry, she’s made it her life’s work to inspire others to say “yes” to adventure. From the remote wilderness areas of Colorado, to exploring a foreign country, Meg specializes in off-beat destinations for the intrepid soul. You can find her in the backcountry searching for the perfect camp spot in her home of Colorado.