Forests cover 34 percent of Colorado. Most of the forests are located in the Rocky Mountains below 3,500 m (11,500 ft) and in the wetter sections of the Colorado Plateau. Among the trees common to Colorado are the conifer species of cedar, spruce, fir, and pine. Different species of trees are found at different altitudes. The ponderosa pine, which is economically the state’s most valuable timber tree, grows on the lower mountain slopes. The blue spruce, the state tree, grows on the higher slopes. The quaking aspen, a deciduous tree, is found in scattered groves up to the timberline. The Great Plains region is almost treeless, except for certain areas that contain peach leaf willow and cottonwood trees.
Natural grasslands once covered most of Colorado’s plains but are now limited to those areas that are not cultivated. Buffalo grass and blue grama are the most common grasses, and they produce a continuous sod covering. In the driest sections of the plains bunch grasses such as Western wheatgrass, Indian ricegrass, and needlegrass grow in tufts or patches and are sometimes interspersed with sagebrush, cactus, and other plants. Natural grasslands are also found high in the mountains, above the timberline.
Wild flowers of many different kinds grow in Colorado. In spring and early summer the sand lily, parry’s primrose, and other flowers provide splashes of color against the somber brown of the plains, and the mariposa lily, wallflower, purple fringe, and larkspur flourish on the low mountain slopes.
At higher elevations, in the shade of aspen groves, grows the Rocky Mountain columbine, which is the official state flower. Above the timberline, species of tiny colorful flowers appear as soon as the snow melts. In summer, skypilot and old man of the mountain dot the high alpine landscape. In the driest parts of Colorado, particularly on the Colorado Plateau, several species of drought-resistant yucca (Spanish bayonet) and cactus produce spectacular flowers. "Colorado" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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