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Alpine Avens

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Alpine avens

Among Colorado’s most common wildflowers high in the tundra is a bright and showy bloom that looks somewhat like a buttercup.

The little yellow alpine avens is adapted to tundra conditions. Its leaves are thick, to retain moisture in cold and drying winds, and a red pigment allows the avens to sprout early and last a little longer in a very short growing season. In fact, the leaves turn a beautiful red late in summer and provide a pop of color amid the browning tundra.

Animals are generally not attracted to the alpine avens because it contains a lot of bitter and potentially harmful tannin. So why does the perky little pika gather bright yellow avens? It turns out that tannin actually preserves the other grasses and flowers stored in pika haypiles. After the tannin has degraded does the pika consume the avens blossoms.

About Colorado Postcards

Colorado Postcards

Colorado Postcards are snapshots of our colorful state in sound. They give brief insights into our people and places, our flora and fauna, and our past and present, from every corner of Colorado.