New Mexico Wildflowers: Buttercup Family



Flowers are organized alphabetically by genus and species. Hover over a photo series to control the images.

Monk's Hood, Monkshood (Aconitum columbianum)

One of multiple species known as wolfsbane, claimed to be useful against werewolves.


Baneberry (Actaea rubra)

Baneberry is a common shady-area shrub in the upper Sandia Mountains. The bottle-brush clusters of wispy white flowers give way to toxic berries (at first green; red or sometimes white when ripe).


Golden Columbine (Aquilegia chrysantha)

In the Albuquerque area, golden columbines are a cultivar—I have several in my front yard. A great public place to see them is the spring-fed artificial pools at Carlito Springs Open Space.


Blue Columbine (Aquilegia coerulea)

Also known as Rocky Mountain columbines or Colorado blue columbines, these are Colorado's official state flower. In New Mexico they're mostly confined to the southernmost Rocky Mountains. In Albuquerque they usually don't make it, so I was surprised to see a flowering example at the Rio Grande Nature Center. Local gardeners do much better to plant golden columbines.


Red Columbine (Aquilegia desertorum or elegantula)

Two species of red columbine are present in the Sandias: the Desert Columbine (Aquilegia desertorum) and the Rocky Mountain Red Columbine (A. elegantula). They're difficult to tell apart and can hybridize, so I won't attempt to distinguish them.


Rocky Mountain Clematis (Clematis colombiana)

The delicate blossoms of this low vine often look beat up. They start out a very light purple and quickly fade to a near-white. Litttlefield and Burns include this species under their pink to lavender flowers.


White Virgin's-Bower (Clematis ligusticifolia)

Also known as deciduous traveler's-joy, western white clematis, barba de chivato (sneak's beard), and barba de viejo (old man's beard).


Leather Flower (Clematis sp.)

Littlefield and Burns list the local leather flowers as Clematis bigelovii, Bigelow's leather flower. The SEINET species list for Bernalillo County includes only C. hirsutissima, hairy clematis, but the SEINET web page for C. bigelovii shows it as occurring in the Sandias.  I think I'll leave my IDs at the genus level.


Sapello Canyon Larkspur (Delphinium sapellonis)

This species occurs only in New Mexico. It's common in the Sandias, less so elsewhere. The brown is not due to flower death but is part of the regular coloration.


Organ Mountain Larkspur (Delphinium wootonii)


Fanleaf Buttercup (Ranunculus Inamoenus)


Fendler's Meadow-Rue (Thalictrum fendleri)

Fendler's meadow-rue plants are either male or female. The male flowers look a little like a mop; the "four petals" are a calyx. One image shows the achenes (fruits). Otherwise, look for three groups of three leaves each, in delicate, almost fern-like arrangements.