Oreocarya elata
Author: (Eastw.) Payson

Cliff dweller's candlestick catseye

Boraginaceae (Borage Family)

Close up of Oreocarya elata by Terry Bridgman
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Close up of Oreocarya elata by Susan Spackman Panjabi
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Taxonomic Comments

=Cryptantha elata (USDA NRCS 2017).

Ranks and Status

Global rank: G3
State rank: S2
Federal protection status: None
State protection status: None

[+] Description and Phenology

Oreocarya elata by Bobbi Angell.
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General description: Biennial or short-lived perennial, often single stemmed, 3-5 dm tall, erect. Stem with pungent spreading bristles, mostly 1.5-2.5 mm long. Upper leaf surface with both strigose and pustulate hairs. Broad-topped inflorescence; helicoid cymes elongate and become raceme-like. Corolla white, with evident yellow fornices. Mature calyx exceeding the nutlets by 2-4 mm. Nutlets, usually 4, closely rugose-reticulate or rugulose-tuberculate. Nutlet scar without elevated margin (Spackman et al. 1997, Weber and Wittmann 2012, Ackerfield 2015).

Look Alikes: Not likely to be confused with other species in same habitat (Spackman et al. 1997).

Phenology: Flowers May to June (Colorado Natural Heritage Program occurrence records as of 2017).

[+] Herbarium Photos

Images of Oreocarya elata housed at the Colorado State University Herbarium.

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[+] Habitat

Habitat of Oreocarya elata by Susan Spackman Panjabi
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Found on steep slopes and draws, in clay soils from Mancos Shale, with salt desert shrub communities (Spackman et al. 1997, Weber and Wittmann 2012). Associated taxa include Xylorhiza venusta, Hilaria jamesiiAtriplex corrugata, Phacelia sp., Atriplex gardneri, Playschleuhria integrifolia, Astragalus flavus, Cymopterus bulbosus, Chrysothamnus sp., Stanleya pinnata, Chaetopappa ericoidesGutierrezia sarothrae, and Achnatherum hymenoides.

Elevation Range: 4,472 - 5,269 feet (1,363 - 1,606 meters)

[+] Distribution

Distribution of Oreocarya elata in Colorado according to mapped land ownership/management boundaries (CNHP 2017, COMaP).
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Distribution of Oreocarya elata in Colorado.
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Colorado endemic: No
Global range: Grand County, Utah, and Mesa and Delta counties, Colorado (USDA NRCS 2017).
State range:

[+] Threats and Management Issues

Primary concerns include habitat fragmentation and degradation resulting from recreational uses, incompatible grazing, and competition from non-native plants, especially Bromus tectorum (Colorado Natural Heritage Program occurrence records as of 2017). Colorado climate scenarios for 2050 suggest temperature will increase by 3-7 F and precipitation may decrease or increase. The impact to any given rare plant habitat is likely to vary. Long-term monitoring that includes weather and soil moisture data is critical to understanding climate impacts.

[+] References

    • Beardsley, M. and D. A. Steingraeber. 2013. Population dynamics, rarity and risk of extirpation for populations of Mimulus gemmiparus (budding monkeyflower) on National Forests of Colorado. A research report submitted to the USFS Forest Service. Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forets and Pawnee National Grassland. pp 17. Accessed online on May 11 at: http://www.r5.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/Rare_Plants/profiles/Critically_Imperiled/mimulus_gemmiparus/ documents/USFS_MimulusStatusReport2013.pdf
    • Colorado Natural Heritage Program and the Geospatial Centroid. 2017. The Colorado Ownership and Protection Map (COMaP). Colorado State University, Ft. Collins, CO.
    • Harrington, H. D. 1954. Manual of the Plants of Colorado. Sage Books, Denver, CO. 666 pp.
    • Higgins, L.C. 1971. A revision of Cryptantha subgenus Oreocarya. Brigham Young University Science Bulletin. Volume 13:1-63.
    • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
    • Spackman, S., B. Jennings, J. Coles, C. Dawson, M. Minton, A. Kratz, and C. Spurrier. 1997. Colorado rare plant field guide. Prepared for Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by Colorado Natural Heritage Program.
    • USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service, PLANTS Database [USDA PLANTS]. http://plants.usda.gov/. Accessed 2017.
    • Weber, W. A. and R. C. Wittmann. 2012. Colorado Flora, Western Slope, A Field Guide to the Vascular Plants, Fourth Edition. Boulder, Colorado. 532 pp.
    • Welsh, S.L., N.D. Atwood, L.C. Higgins and S. Goodrich. 1987. Utah Flora, Great Basin Naturalist Memoirs, No. 9. Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. 986 pp.
    • Welsh, S.L., N.D. Atwood, S. Goodrich, and L.C. Higgins (eds.) 1993. A Utah flora. 2nd edition. Brigham Young Univ., Provo, Utah. 986 pp.

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