It used to be that “you didn’t need a flower guide if you had Pearl along,” says Bob Lowder, president of the Friends of the Sandia Mountains. “You could bring up any flower and she would identify it.”
But Pearl Burns, now 92, doesn’t lead wildflower hikes these days. You still, however, can bring her along. She and Larry J. Littlefield have written “Wildflowers of the Northern and Central Mountains of New Mexico.” It’s published by University of New Mexico Press.
This 408-page field guide features more than 1,000 photographs and describes more than 350 wildflowers, according to UNM Press. The book includes wildflowers from all ends of the state, stretching through the Sangre de Cristo, Jemez, Sandia and Manzano mountains, as well as other ranges.
On a recent Friday morning, Burns pointed out that the “weeds” sprouting out of the gravel landscaping – as is the case in her yard – could turn out to be California poppies in tangerine orange, or larkspur shooting purple, not your usual weed variety.
And, did you know that chocolate flowers really do smell like chocolate? She encouraged visitors to kneel in close to smell the yellow petaled, brown-centered flower. It’s one example of Burns’ vast knowledge of the wildflowers in our great New Mexico landscape. And that was just in her front yard.