Discover many of the natural Plantae inhabitants of Colorado and the Rocky Mountains up-close and personal—woven into their native wilderness habitat around Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s Rocky Mountain Wild.
Fallugia paradoxa – An extremely drought tolerant plant that’s root system is good for erosion control. The apache plume’s flowers attract bees and butterflies and its seeds attract birds.
Picea pungens – A tree that does best in moist, well drained soil with full sunlight. It typically grows near streams, which is unusual for an evergreen. Blue spruce provide food and shelter for many birds such as finches. Deer do not prefer these trees because of their prickly needles and strong aroma.
Prunus virginiana – This shrub can be found on the edge of woodlands and thickets. It produces a cluster of white flowers and then blackberries. The berries are food for bears, coyote, fox, rabbits and deer.
Sambucus canadensis – A hardy and rapidly growing shrub that will tolerate dry conditions. Purplish-black fruit forms in late summer. Golden elder provides nesting and perching material for many bird species such as blue birds and hummingbirds. Berries are often used in pies.
Quercus gambelii – Drought resistant Gamble or Scrub oak are found in valleys, foothills and mountains. Their acorns provide valuable sources of protein for bear, deer, elk and other wildlife.
Liatris punctata – Gayfeather grows in many soils, including clay. It is long lived and drought resistant, making it a great choice for xeriscaping. The nectar from this plant attracts butterflies like the threatened Pawnee Montane Skipper.
Cercocarpus montanus – This plant is a good choice for water efficient landscaping as this evergreen shrub is tolerant to both heat and drought. It also controls erosion. The leaves and twigs provide browse for various animals. This shrub is not related to mahogany, but it’s named for the similar, dark brown coloration.
Populus tremuloides – Aspens prefer full sun and moist soil. A short lived tree, but one of the first to sprout after a forest fire. Deer and other mammals depend on them as a winter food source.
Rocky Mountain Iris
Iris missouriensis – Iris’ do well in wet areas. They bloom May to September with beautiful purple flowers similar to the cultivated variety. Iris flowers attract both insects and hummingbirds.
Rocky Mountain Penstemon
Penstemon strictus – An excellent choice for rock gardens and erosion control, requiring little water. The late spring flowers are a favorite of bees and attract hummingbirds and butterflies.
Asclepias speciosa – Milkweed is found along roadsides and in wetlands up to 7,000 feet. It grows in poor, weedy soil. Monarch butterflies lay eggs on the underside of the leaves; which provide food for larva when they hatch.
Thin Leaf Alder
Alnus tenufifolia – This alder tolerates a wide range of soils. It has a high flood tolerance and grows near rivers. Chickadees and goldfinch eat alder seeds and buds while elk, deer and moose browse on twigs and leaves.
Abies concolor – A conifer that does well at high altitude and in various soil and water conditions. It provides seeds for small mammals and birds such as squirrels and chickadees. This tree is probably 200 years old and treasured by the Zoo. The Rocky Mountain Wild exhibit was designed around it.
Rosa woodsii – A delicate shrub that grows best in part shade. An excellent choice for a wild woods garden. Rosehips provide food for birds and mammals in winter.
Yellow Pea (Golden Banner)
Thermopsis montana – Like all plants in the pea family, this plant makes its own fertilizer. It blooms late spring and early summer. Its leaves provide food for caterpillars and butterflies.