Colorado Life Zones: Seasons, Plants, & Animals
Step 1: Choose One of the Life Zones or Choices Below
CO Life Zone Menu Bar
Colorado Life Zones General information Interactive Life Zone Diagram Colorado Life Zones Maps Semidesert Shrublands Life Zone West CO Shortgrass Prairie or Plains Life Zones Foothills Woodlands and Shrublands Montane Forests Life Zone Subalpine Life Zone Alpine Life Zone Riparian Life Zones
Montane Forests Life Zone: Seasons, Plants, & Animals
Step 2: Choose a Topic from the Montane Forests Life Zone & Scroll Down

Montane Forests Life Zone General Information

General Information

Montane Forests Life Zone Through the Seasons

Through the Seasons

Montane Forests Life Zone Mountain Pine Beetle

Mountain Pine Beetle

Montane Forests Life Zone Awesome Adaptations Awesome Adaptations

Montane Forests Life Zone Plants and Trees

Plants and Trees

Montane Forests Life Zone  Mammals

Mammals

Montane Forests Life Zone Birds

Birds

Montane Forests Life Zone Reptiles and Amphibians

Reptiles & Amphibians

Plants and Trees of the Montane Forests Life Zone

    One of the best ways to know if you are in the montane is to look at the plants and trees around you.  The oak brush starts thinning out in the upper part of the montane shrublands, and large forests of pine trees and aspen trees start taking over. Often hidden in the forests are small grassy meadows and ponds. Enough rain and snow falls here to support large forests.  Though, the plants here must be able to survive through cold temperatures and large snow drifts.

    The direction the slope of the mountain faces can determine which kinds of trees live there. The southern facing slopes get more sun and support more open forests of aspen trees and ponderosa pines. The cooler northern facing slopes have more thick forests of lodgepole pines and douglas firs. It is possible to find snow in the shadows of these trees on northern facing slopes well into the summer.

    Fire is very important for the montane forests. Over time, the forests can be taken over by dense forests of pine trees. Branches and needles fall to the forest floor and pile up into dry, crispy fire hazards. Smaller forest fires help clear the forests of old dying trees and clear the forest floor for new plants to grow. If we prevent all forest fires, all the dry dead trees, branches, and needles get even thicker. When a fire starts, it can quickly become an enormous super-hot firestorm like the Haymen Fire in 2002. Usually fire is helpful for the next generation of seeds to grow. However, these firestorms can get so hot that it may even destroy the next generation of seeds.  Without grass and trees, animals can’t survive, and mudslides and erosion become a major problem.

Quaking Aspen

SW CO Plants

Tree Book

Bird & Hike

Quaking Aspen Trees

Red or Rocky Mountain Maple

SW CO Plants

Red or Rocky Mountain Maple

Ponderosa Pine

SW CO Plants

Bird & Hike LV

Canyon Dave

Ponderosa Pine

Lodgepole Pine

SW CO Plants

Tree Book

BC Adventure

Lodgepole Pines

Douglas Fir 

SW CO Plants

Bird & Hike LV

Tree Book

 

Douglas Fir

Other Trees

Colorado Blue Spruce

Rocky Mountain Juniper

Mountain Ash

Mountain Alder

Choke Cherry

Colorado Blue Spruce

Ferns:
Bracken Fern

Horsetails

Male Fern

Grassfern

Bracken Fern

Other Plants
Wild Raspberry

Wild Strawberry

Corn Lilly

Monument Plant

Pinedrops

Poison Ivy

Oregon Grape

& More Plants

Wild Raspberry

Kinnikinnick (Bear Berry)

SW CO Plants

Kinnikinnick or Bear Berry

Rocky Mountain Penstemon

SW CO Plants

Rocky Mountain Penstemon

Indian Paintbrush

SW CO Plants

Indian Paintbrush

Rocky Mountain Columbine

SW CO Plants

Rocky Mountain Columbine

Jacob's Ladder

SW CO Plants

Jacob's Ladder

More Flowers
Glacier Lilly

Wild Geranium

Violet

Bitterroot

Larkspur

Wild Rose

Mule's Ears

& Many More

Many more kinds of of flowers
Lichens and Mosses Lichen Different Kinds of Grasses Different kinds of grasses
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Awesome Adaptations: Quaking Aspen Tree

   The aspen tree is one of the most amazing trees. Did you know that a grove or forest of aspen is one of the largest living organisms on the planet? Aspen trees can make new trees with seeds and with their roots. The roots grow out of the ground and create new trees. The new trees make more roots that travel farther and create new aspen trees. Eventually, whole forests of aspen trees may grow from one aspen tree. All the trees may be connected by their roots. Even though it looks like many different trees, they may be all one organism.

     The aspens have adapted in other ways too.The aspen has beautiful white bark. Native Americans used to rub their hands on the white bark and use the white powder as sunscreen. When a branch dies, the tree has a way of letting the dead branches fall off over time. This makes the tree look clean, tall, and healthy. The green round shaped leaves quake or shake easily in the wind. Also, aspens create one of the most beautiful places each year when their leaves start changing brilliant colors of orange, red, and gold in the fall. Then they lose their leaves to save energy over the winter.

Sources of information and to find more information: SW CO Plants, Tree Book, Bird & Hike

Quaking Aspen Trees Aspen Forest in the Fall
Montane Forests Fall Montane Forest in the Fall
Aspens tuning color in the fall Aspen Leaves in the Fall