Plant of the Week

Map of the United States showing states. States are colored green where the plant may be found.
Trollius laxus range map. USDA PLANTS Database.

Trollius laxus.
American globeflower subspecies albiflorus on June 17, 2007,growing at about 11,000 feet elevation in the mountains east of Silverton, Colorado. Photo by Charlie McDonald.

Trollius laxus.
A patch of American globeflowers makes a nice spring display just after the snow has melted from this subalpine bog in the mountains east of Silverton, Colorado. Photo by Charlie McDonald.

American globeflower (Trollius laxus)

By Charlie McDonald

American globeflower is in the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae) and it has typical buttercup-like flowers. Within the buttercup family, it is most similar to anemone (Anemone spp.).

American globeflower grows in the Northeast and in the Rocky Mountain West. The two areas are widely separated and the plants of each region have been assigned to their own subspecies; plants in the West have white flowers and are called subspecies albiflorus, plants in the Northeast have yellow flowers and are called subspecies laxus. Some botanists think the differences are great enough to treat the eastern and western plants as two separate species.

American globeflower grows in swamps and bogs in the east and in high-mountain to subalpine bogs in the west. It is a perennial herb that often emerges and flowers in the spring well before most of the other bog plants begin to grow. American globeflowers are among the first wildflowers to emerge after spring snowmelt in the boggy parts of western subalpine meadows.

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Wheel milkweed, Asclepias uncialis.
Wheel Milkweed (Asclepias uncialis)