Native flowers. What every Nevada lover should know

In Nevada, the most parched state in the nation, flowers grow under rocks. They bloom in ghost towns, wave atop mountains, and bud under neon lights. Explorer John Charles Frémont began cataloging the flora that flourish throughout the State in the 1840s. Today, the Nevada Natural Heritage Program continues to survey and inventory vegetation, monitoring the status of all existing, threatened, endangered, rare, and at-risk plants (and animals) in Nevada. Extraordinarily, within the bounty of plants the State boasts, there are 153 species of plant life that exist only in Nevada.

Whether it’s endangered yellow cress in the Tahoe Basin, the violets in the north, the forget-me-nots in our mountains, the golden Las Vegas bearpoppies of the south, or the many cacti that weather floods and drought equally, these unique blooms are ours to celebrate - as dear as a bride clutching her bouquet, a child whirling in a wildflower meadow, and a Valentine’s Day spray delivered to symbolize and say, “I love you.”

People have attributed meaning to flowers and used them to convey messages for thousands of years. Floriography, the language of flowers, was “spoken” prolifically during the Victorian Era, a time when social propriety was extremely conservative, especially for the upper class. Flowers were used to secretly communicate messages considered too indelicate to state openly. Dictionaries were created to define the meaning(s) of a flower. A flower or arrangement offered in the left hand had a different meaning than if it was presented in the right hand. An arrangement given upside down, had the opposite meaning of what it would have meant if bestowed right side up.

We have the ability to speak more candidly today, but we can still speak the language of flowers using imported flowers, or craft a message using Nevada flowers. Here are the meanings of some of the flowers that bloom in Nevada:

  • Sunflower: pure thoughts; dedicated love; haughtiness
  • Violet: modesty
  • Geranium: stupidity; folly
  • Pink Rose: grace; joy
  • Cattail: peace; prosperity
  • Aster: love; daintiness
  • Cactus: endurance
  • Fern: magic; fascination; confidence; shelter
  • Palm leaves: victory; success
  • Peony: shame
  • Pine: hope; pity
  • Poppy, yellow: wealth; success
  • Primrose: I can’t live without you
  • Larkspur, purple: fickleness
  • Monkshood: beware – a deadly foe is near
  • Moss: maternal love; charity
  • Queen Ann’s Lace: haven; sanctuary; complexity; delicateness
  • Buttercup: radiant charm; attractiveness

Please enjoy Nevada’s native flora responsibly. Many of our unique plants and the special places where they grow are protected by law. Consider taking only photos, which will last much longer than a plucked blossom. The blooms of our native plants help them proliferate for future generations and feed our native pollinators, such as bees and butterflies.

For more information about Nevada’s biodiversity or to browse photos, visit