The first time I ever saw these remarkable flowers was 14 Oct 2007. I was hiking along the Jyogasaki Coast of Japan ["jyogasaki kaigan", 城ヶ崎海岸], as I often did on weekends for the 6 years I lived in Ito on Japan's Izu Peninsula.
I usually had a camera around my neck and this day was no different, and I was taking my time. Even in mid-October, there is a lot of plant and insect life active in the sub-tropical climate of Izu. But I almost stepped on these small plants growing right on the rocky margin of the trail. And I was amazed when I looked more closely at the tiger-stiped purple/pink flowers and their structure.
Here are some of the first images I took of the amazing Japanese Toad Lily.
Now that I have a chance to compare the ones I am shooting now, it is interesting to see the similarities and differences. The ones here have much longer stigmas - the forked parts that trap pollen, and much longer filaments - the parts that bear the pad-like anthers. In fact, the ones I shot in Japan have a much stockier pistil and other central parts. And the anthers on the flowers shown in the images above are much more colourful and purple, whereas the one shown below is yellow and lack the striping.
Also, the ones from Japan have a lot more dew-drops attached to the stigmas.
Some varieties of Toad Lily are commercially available here, and should grow here in Colorado.