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Boise Foothills abloom with spring wildflowers

BOISE, Idaho — The Boise Front is a wildflower classroom in the spring.

Wildflowers start blooming in late March and early April in the lower Foothills at about 3,000 feet in elevation, and continue to bloom throughout summer, all the way up to Bogus Basin and Mores Mountain at around 7,000 feet.

Wildflowers aficionados and photographers can follow wildflowers up in elevation as the seasons progress, the temperatures warm and the snow recedes.

"Spring is a beautiful time to be in the Foothills," said David Gordon, coordinator of Ridge to Rivers. "Green grass and wildflowers abound."

Foothills trails, which are recommended for spotting wildflowers, are even named after some species. How about the Wild Phlox Trail No.112 in Seaman Gulch?

Gordon wrote this month about his trail picks for the best wildflower watching in the Ada County's newsletter, the "Current."

Other trails Gordon suggested include: Central Ridge No. 22 in Military Reserve, Doe Ridge No. 82 in the Polecat Reserve, Watchman No. 3 in Rocky Canyon and Chickadee Ridge No. 36A in the Lower Hulls Gulch Reserve.

If hiking on Foothills trails isn't your thing, there's always a quick and easy stroll in the Idaho Botanical Garden to see native plants and flowers.

"If folks are interested in learning about a few wildflowers, the Idaho Botanical Garden has easy access. It has several gardens that feature flowers and shrubs native to the Boise Front," said botanist Ann DeBolt.

She said the Idaho Native Plant Garden and Lewis and Clark Native Plant Garden feature biscuitroot, arrowleaf balsamroot, serviceberry, mock-orange or syringa, which is the Idaho state flower, elderberry, yellowbells, buckwheat, woodland star, globemallow, and even a few sego lilies.

Although there is a lot more variety in the Boise Foothills, Debolt likes the garden because it offers a snippet of what people will find in the Foothills, and the plants are labeled.


Here's a look at what types of wildflowers you will find in the lower Boise Foothills and when you're likely to see them.

Spring: Phlox, lupine, biscuitroot, serviceberry, milkvetch, bitterbrush, death camas, arrowleaf balsamroot and yellow bells.

Summer: Depending on the location, different types of milkvetch, fleabane, sulfur buckwheat and monkey flower (in wet sites).

Late summer: Hoary aster, buckwheat and blazing star.


As flower seekers go up in elevation, one of the best places for wildflowers is around Mores Mountain and Bogus Basin.

Spring: Dwarf onion, turkey peas and currants.

Summer: Kittentails, scarlet gilia, several different penstemons, Indian paintbrush and a lot more. It's definitely the best time.

Late summer: Cinquefoil, aster, lupine and buckwheat.

Ann DeBolt, a botanist at the Idaho Botanical Garden, checks out a healthy arrowleaf balsamroot at the garden in Boise, Idaho, April 8, 2014. Arrowleaf balsamroot has been blooming over the last week in parts of the Boise Foothills and all across Southwest Idaho and Southeast Oregon. (AP Photo/Idaho Statesman, Pete Zimowsky) - AP