When conditions are favorable, the spring wildflower displays in the canyons have to be seen to be believed. A wet winter and early spring followed by warming temperatures appear to create ideal conditions. Red and orange flowers include globemallow, Indian paintbrush, penstemon, skyrocket, red columbine, and crimson monkeyflower. Yellow flowers are common and hard to identify but some examples are groundcherry, broom snakeweed, Hookers primrose, ragweed, and common mullein. White flowers include sacred datura, evening primrose, tidy fleabane, desert tobacco, yarrow, baby white aster, white violet, and watercress. Pink and purple flowers include Rocky Mountain bee plant, Rocky Mountain iris, Grand Canyon phacelia, toadflax penstemon, and Palmer lupine.
Springs support miniature gardens of columbine, horsetail, watercress, monkeyflower, and rushes. The Colorado River not only supports a narrow but important riparian lifezone, the river itself contains green algae, which small aquatic animals depend on for food.
Lichens are common in the Grand Canyon because of the vast amount of exposed rock. Lichens are tiny communities of two or more plants such as a green algae and a fungus. The fungus extracts nutrients from the rock and protects the algae from the harsh environment. In turn, the green algae uses sunlight to produce food by photosynthesis. Lichens are most common on the north sides of rocks where the temperature is lower. Lichens store water during storms and can store more than their weight in water. Read more about Wildflowers