I took a hike up Mt. Garfield last Sunday and spotted thousands of purple flowers covering the hillside. What are these things?

I've hiked Mt. Garfield hundreds of times over the years, and have never noticed these before. We're not talking about a handful, either. There are literally thousands of these growing over the lower 1/3 of the hike.

They seem harmless enough, but that may not be the case. I felt it best to ask via social media what variety of plant these are. What followed was a debate as to the type of plant.

flower debate

It appears most feel they are either Thistle or Scorpion Weed. Let's explore the Scorpion Weed suggestion. That comes from a Musician/Naturalist friend of mine, Jeff Pine. What's the scoop with Scorpion Weed?

Phacelia (phacelia, scorpionweed, heliotrope) is a genus of about 200 species of annual or perennialherbaceousplants, native to North and South America. As with many species in the Boraginaceae, contact with the hairs of some species of Phacelia can cause a very unpleasant rash similar to that from poison oak and poison ivy in sensitive individuals. -Wikipedia

That sounds horrific. If this is Scorpion Weed, I'm glad I didn't make contact with it. What happens if you do? This video was published less than a month ago.

Youch! Let's make a deal. How about we just leave these plants alone? I'm looking forward to another hike up Mt. Garfield. Again, these plants are EVERYWHERE along the lower 1/3 of the hike. Fortunately, they aren't on the trail or in the immediate traffic areas. The can be easily avoided.

Thanks to everyone who chimed in with suggestions. I was born in this valley, and feel a little silly not knowing this variety of plant. It seems I didn't pay attention in Cub Scouts back in 1976.

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