Hackelia gracilenta
Author: (Eastw.) I.M. Johnston

Mesa Verde stickseed

Boraginaceae (Borage Family)

Close up of Hackelia gracilenta by Renee Rondeau.
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Close up of Hackelia gracilenta by Peggy Lyon.
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Ranks and Status

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

[+] Description and Phenology

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General description: Plants biennial, 25-90 cm tall. Hispid stems, trichomes with pustulose bases. Mostly basal leaves, oblanceolate to narrowly oblong 2-12 cm long, and pustulate. Corolla 6-8 mm wide, blue to whitish-blue. Nutlets 2-4 mm wide, the prickles on margins slightly united at the base, 1-3 mm long, and longer than the intramarginal prickles (Spackman et al. 1997, Weber and Wittmann 2012, Ackerfield 2015).

Look Alikes: Hackelia floribunda has stems that are leafy throughout, hirsute, pilose or otherwise pubescent; but hairs are not pustulose (Spackman et al. 1997).

Phenology: Flowers May through June; fruits mid to late June (Spackman et al. 1997). 

[+] Herbarium Photos

Images of Hackelia gracilenta housed at the Colorado State University Herbarium.

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[+] Habitat

Habitat of Hackelia gracilenta by Bernadette Kuhn.
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Shady canyons and mesa tops; in deep loam or sandy-loam soil; associated with pinyon-juniper and scrub oak communities (Spackman et al. 1997, Weber and Wittmann 2012, Ackerfield 2015). Additional associated species include: Amelanchier utahensis, Poa fendleriana, Symphoricarpos oreophilus, Ribes leptanthum, Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus, Artemisia tridentata, Rhus tridentata, Lepidium montanum, Pedicularis centranthera, Schoenocrambe linifolia, and Yucca baccata (Colorado Natural Heritage Program occurrence records 2017).

Elevation Range: 6,181 - 8,179 feet (1,884 - 2,493 meters)

[+] Distribution

Distribution of Hackelia gracilenta in Colorado according to mapped land ownership/management boundaries (CNHP 2017, COMaP).
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Distribution of Hackelia gracilenta in Colorado.
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Colorado endemic: Yes
Global range: Endemic to Colorado (Montezuma County, Mesa Verde National Park). Estimated range is 70 square kilometers (27 square miles), calculated in GIS in 2008 by the Colorado Natural Heritage Program by drawing a minimum convex polygon around the known occurrences.

[+] Threats and Management Issues

Summary results of an analysis of the status of Hackelia gracilenta based on several ranking factors. This species was concluded to be “Moderately Conserved”. From Rondeau et al. 2011.
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Recreational use is considered to be the primary threat to the species at this time (Rondeau et al. 2011). Development of park facilities may pose a minor threat to this species, but the National Park Service is aware of its locations and rarity. To date, recreational impacts do not appear very significant. Hackelia gracilenta seems to respond advantageously to moderate disturbance (Fiero 1987). Cheatgrass is present in some occurrences at low levels. Climate change impacts on habitat structure and soil moisture is also a concern.

[+] 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 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 and the Geospatial Centroid. 2017. The Colorado Ownership and Protection Map (COMaP). Colorado State University, Ft. Collins, CO.
    • Colyer, M. 1994. Personal Communication 4/2/94. Natural Resources, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado.
    • Fiero, Donald C. 1987. Letter from Fiero to Steve O'Kane. United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Mesa Verde National Park, CO 81330.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • O'Kane, S. L. 1988. Colorado's Rare Flora. Great Basin Naturalist. 48(4):434-484.
    • Peterson, J.S. 1982. CNHP Plant Species of Special Concern (Hackelia gracilenta). Abstract.
    • Reveal, J.L. 1967. Plants collected in 1967 by J.L. Reveal deposited at University of Colorado Herbarium.
    • Rondeau, R., K. Decker, J. Handwerk, J. Siemers, L. Grunau, and C. Pague. 2011. The state of Colorado's biodiversity 2011. Prepared for The Nature Conservancy. Colorado Natural Heritage Program, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado.
    • 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, NRCS. 2013. The PLANTS Database. National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.
    • 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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