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Beardtongues, Little Red Elephants And Telesonix: Colorado’s Wildest Wildflowers

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Photo: Beardstongue Penstemon Wildflower
A Penstemon flower, also known as a Beardstongue, at the Denver Botanic Gardens.

When people think of the "most Colorado" wildflower, a common answer would be the columbine flower. But to Panayoti Kelaidís, a senior curator and director of outreach at Denver Botanic Gardens, the answer is clear, but different: the Beardtongue, aka the Penstemon. The wildflower grows all over the Rocky Mountains and spans the entire spectrum of blues—a rarity in wildflowers.

Kelaidís talked to Colorado Matters about the state's iconic blooms, many of which are featured in the new book, "Wildflowers of the Rocky Mountain Region." Other Kelaidís favorites include the Telesonix and the Little Red Elephant—he's so fond of the former that his Twitter username is @Telesonix. Kelaidís and several co-authors will speak and sign books at the Botanic Gardens on Tuesday, Aug. 14.