Eutrema penlandii
Author: Rollins

Mosquito Range mustard

Brassicaceae (Mustard Family)

Close up of Eutrema penlandii by Ginni Greer
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Close up of Eutrema penlandii by Ginni Greer
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Close up of Eutrema penlandii by Scott Smith
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Close up of Eutrema penlandii by Steve Olson
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Taxonomic Comments

=Eutrema edwardsii ssp. penlandii

Ranks and Status

Global rank: G1G2
State rank: S1S2
Federal protection status: USFWS Threatened
State protection status: None

[+] Description and Phenology

Eutrema penlandii by Mary Barnes. Please also see 1997 profile, and Flora of North America.
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General description: Small herbaceous perennial from 1 to 15 cm tall. Plants are glabrous and have clusters of white, four petalled flowers at the top of each stem. Leaves are dimorphic: shiny and oval along the stem, and shovel-shaped at the base of the plant. Fruit are eliptical, with styles so small they are barely evident (Spackman et al. 1997).

Look Alikes: This species is not conspicuous in the field although the fruits and basal leaves are distinctive. The flowers are more apparent than the leaves, but look similar to several Draba species (Naumann 1988). Noccaea montana has obcordate fruits, broadest at the apex, and long-styled (1-3mm), as opposed to the elliptical fruits and barely evident style of Eutrema. Draba borealis, D. cana, D. porsildii, and D. lonchocarpa, which occur in the same area but in drier sites, are all pubescent (Spackman et al. 1997).

Phenology: Peak flower is likely in late June through early July depending on snow melt. Plants produce fruits in July and dehisce in August (Naumann 1988). 

[+] Habitat

Habitat of Eutrema penlandii by Jill Handwerk
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Alpine tundra above 3700 m elevation and downslope from snowfields, which provide melt water all summer. The plants are usually found on south- and east-facing flat to gently sloping benches with steep walls that provide some protection from snow-melting winds. On these wet benches, the plants are found in moss-covered peat fens, bogs, or marshes. Most of the populations are on limestone substrates, which have created unusually basic wetland soils, but it is not certain that the species is restricted to calcareous substrates.

Elevation Range: 11,975 - 13,346 feet (3,650 - 4,068 meters)

[+] Distribution

Distribution of Eutrema penlandii in Colorado.
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Colorado endemic: Yes
Global range: Colorado endemic known from Lake, Park and Summit counties. Limited to a 25 mile stretch of the Continental Divide, above 12,000 feet. Estimated range is 215 square kilometers, calculated in 2008 by the Colorado Natural Heritage Program in GIS by drawing a minimum convex polygon around the known occurrences.

[+] Threats and Management Issues

Summary results of an analysis of the status of Eutrema penlandii based on several ranking factors. This species was concluded to be "moderately conserved”. From Rondeau et al. 2011.
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The primary threats to Eutrema penlandii at this time appear to be hydrological alterations and mining. Activities that would impact surface water flow include anything from roads, trails, ruts from vehicles, footpaths, ruts, mining costruction or any activity of this nature that draws water away from the peat fen habitat (USFWS no date, Plant Profile).  Mineral extraction could have a significant impact on this taxon. The mining companies contested the Mosquito Range Research Natural Area; mining remains a big threat to plants in the Mosquito Range because of the thousands of mining claims - a change in the economic viability of mining could cause mining to increase there (Colorado Natural Heritage Program 2004). Also, as mentioned ditching associated with mining could affect the delicate hydrology and could cause water pollution, both of which would adversly affect the species.  Recreational use is also a threat including trampling by ORV's and hikers. Any activity that directly or indirectly alters the surface or ground water supply and alters the wetland habitat required by this species could pose a significant threat. In one occurrence, Jeeps and ATVs were parked directly on top of Eutrema plants (Colorado Natural Heritage Program, Element Occurrence data). The impacts of this seemingly benign activity can destroy large areas of this sensitive bog habitat.  Another threat to this species are random events that might wipe-out large parts of the already small populations, such as fungal blight, drought, or insect infestations (US FWS no date, Plant Profile).  On a larger scale, global warming potentially threatens this and other alpine species.  Grazing is another threat, however, it is suggested that direct grazing on the Eutrema would probably be moderate given its small stature and the likelihood that its unpalatable. Grazing is still a threat to this species because grazing animals could easily trample or over-turn the Eutrema when looking for and eating moss in the bog (Colorado Natural Heritage Program, Element Occurrence data).

[+] References

    • Ackerfield, J. 2015. Flora of Colorado. Brit Press, Botanical Research Institute of Texas, Fort Worth, TX. 818 pp.
    • Al-Shehbaz, I. A. and S. I. Warwick. 2005a. A synopsis of Eutrema. Harvard Papers in Botany 10 (2): 129-135.
    • Colorado Native Plant Society. 1989. Rare plants of Colorado. Rocky Mountain Nature Association, Colorado Native Plant Society, Estes Park, Colorado. 73 pp.
    • Colorado Natural Heritage Program. 2004. The First Annual Colorado Rare Plant Symposium: Threatened, Endangered and Candidate Plants of Colorado. Symposium Minutes.
    • 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.
    • Kartesz, J.T. 1999. A synonymized checklist and atlas with biological attributes for the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. First edition. In: Kartesz, J.T., and C.A. Meacham. Synthesis of the North American Flora, Version 1.0. North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, N.C.
    • Naumann, T. S. 1988. Revised Status Report for Eutrema penlandii Rollins. Unpublished report prepared for the Colorado Natural Areas Program, Denver, CO.
    • Neely, B., S. Panjabi, E. Lane, P. Lewis, C. Dawson, A. Kratz, B. Kurzel, T. Hogan, J. Handwerk, S. Krishnan, J. Neale, and N. Ripley. 2009. Colorado Rare Plant Conservation Strategy, Developed by the Colorado Rare Plant conservation Initiative. The Nature Conservancy, Boulder, Colorado, 117 pp.
    • Rocky Mountain Society of Botanical Artists. 2009. RARE Imperiled Plants of Colorado, a traveling art exhibition. Exhibition catalogue developed by the Denver Botanic Gardens and Steamboat Art Museum.
    • Rollins, R.C. 1993. The Cruciferae of continental North America: Systematics of the mustard family from the Arctic to Panama. Stanford Univ. Press, Stanford, California. 976 pp.
    • Roy, G., S. Kelso, and A. Tonnesen. 1993. Habitat characteristics of Eutrema penlandii (Brassicaceae) in the Colorado Rockies: A study of alpine endemism. Madroņo 40(4):236-245.
    • Ryke, N., D. Winters, L. McMartin and S. Vest. 1994. Threatened, Endangered and Sensitive Species of the Pike and San Isabel National Forests and Comanche and Cimarron National Grasslands. May 25, 1994.
    • 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.
    • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1993. The plant Eutrema penlandii (Penland alpine fen mustard) determined to be a threatened species. Federal Register 58(143): 40539-40547.
    • USDA, NRCS. 2013. The PLANTS Database. National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.
    • Weber, W. A. and R. C. Wittmann. 2012. Colorado Flora, Eastern Slope, A Field Guide to the Vascular Plants, Fourth Edition. Boulder, Colorado. 555 pp.
    • 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.

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