Lava Beds National Monument

Lava Beds National Monument



Even small changes in elevation, soil, and shade can provide just the right conditions for different communities of plants to grow. You'll discover this all over the Lava Beds, where high buttes, open plains, lava flows both old and new, and cave entrances all provide unique conditions for plants to grow. The vegetation of the Monument is a mix of common plants adapted to generally dry, warm summers and cool winters, and special plants that take advantage of small areas with specific micro-climates.

Blooming from early spring to late fall, an amazing variety of wildflowers can be found in the Monument.

Ferns grow in sheltered, shady, moist areas, often at cave entrances.

Grass is the foundation of many plant communities.

Not really a plant, lichens are part algae, part fungus.

Mosses and Liverworts
Non-vascular plants are common in surprising places.

Mushrooms and other Fungi
Not a plant, fungi are essential to how plants get nutrients from the soil.

Trees and Shrubs
Very different trees and shrubs live on this arid landscape.


Unlike arid landscapes of the Southwest and elsewhere, the wildflowers here do not come and go in one dramatic spring pulse. Instead, plants stagger their blooms over the course of the warmer seasons providing a long, varying flower show that starts when the snow melts in March and lasts into September.

Listed below, in order of blooming season, are some of the most common or notable species. Dates should be taken as rough guidance, since variable seasonal weather does affect when these plants bloom, and in differing ways: A late, cold spring my cause one flower to bloom profusely through mid-summer, while another may skip blooming altogether.

DO NOT PICK FLOWERS: Please leave flowers for other visitors to enjoy. Wildflowers, like all natural, cultural and historic things in the park, are protected and preserved for the enjoyment of all.

Early Spring: March - Early May

Sagebrush Buttercup
Ranunculus glaberrimus
Best Viewed: March - April
Habitat: Sheltered under shrubs, rock outcrops
Flower size: 2 cm
Type: Perrenial
Notes: Shy, often hidden under sagebrush or other shrubs in sheltered places or rock cracks. By far our earliest bloomer during the last weeks of winter.

Carpet Phlox & Spreading Phlox
Phlox hoodii & Phlox diffusa
Best Viewed: April - May
Habitat: Open areas, rock outcrops
Flower size: 1.5 cm
Type: Perrenial
Notes: Grow in low, spiny clumps in most open areas of the park and put on an impressive show wherenever a dozen or so plants live together. White, pink, or both.

Lithophragma sp.
Best Viewed: April - May
Habitat: Shade, open woodlands.
Flower size: 1 cm
Type: Annual
Notes: Easilly found along the lower portion of the Schonchin Butte Trail. Two species are common: bulbus and slender woodland-stars.

Yellow Bell / Yellow Fritillary
Fritillaria pudica
Best Viewed: Late April - May
Habitat: Open shrub or grasslands
Flower size: 2 cm
Type: Perrenial
Notes: Found at the top of Gillems Bluff. The flower changes color from bright yellow to shades of orange and red as it ages.

Lomatium sp.
Best Viewed: Late April - June
Habitat: Open shrub or grasslands
Flower Size: 2-5 cm
Type: Perrenial
Notes: Members of the carrot family and named for their eddible roots. Several species with white to yellow umbels (broad clusters) of flowers. Top of Gillems Bluff a reliable spot for most kinds.

Phoenicaulis cheiranthoides
Best Viewed: Late May - June
Habitat: Open shrub or grasslands
Flower Size: 4-5 cm cluster
Type: Perrenial
Notes: White to pink in clusters of 15-25 flowers. Top of Gillems Bluff. Named for long pointed seed pods typical of the mustard family.