Claytonia rubra
Author: (T.J. Howell) Tidestrom


Redstem spring beauty


Portulacaceae (Purslane Family)

Close up of Claytonia rubra by Judith Miller.
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Close up of Claytonia rubra by Jennifer Ackerfield.
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Taxonomic Comments

Ackerfield (2015) places this genus in the Montiaceae, or the Miner’s Lettuce Family. The Flora of North America (2003) lists Monita rubra as a synonym, and describes two subspecies, based on leaf shape, ssp. rubra and ssp. depressa. These subspecies are not recognized by the authors of recent Colorado floras (Weber and Wittmann 2012, Ackerfield 2015).

Ranks and Status

Global rank: G5
State rank: S1
Federal protection status: None
State protection status: None

[+] Description and Phenology

Art work in progress by Susan T. Fisher.

General description: Claytonia rubra is an annual, sometimes overwintering and biennial, from minute tubers, 1-10 cm tall. Basal leaves are found in flattened to suberect rosettes, 0.5-6 cm across, blades with strong red pigmentation even in juvenile plants. Basal leaves are narrowly rhombic to ovate, spatulate, or trullate, 0.5-1.5 × 0.5-1 cm, apex obtuse. Cauline leaves are distinct or connate on 1 side or perfoliate (pierced), sessile, blade ovate. Inflorescence: 1-bracteate; bract leaf-like, 0.5-15 mm. Flowers are 2-5 mm in diameter; sepals 1.5-2.5 mm; petals 2-3 mm, pinkish white to white. Fruit is a capsule. Seeds are 2-3 mm in diameter, shiny and smooth (Flora of North America 2003, Ackerfield 2015, Colorado Plant Database 2017). 

Look Alikes: Not likely to be confused with other species in this area. The annual habit is distinctive.

Phenology: In Colorado, plants flower April-August (Ackerfield 2015).

[+] Herbarium Photos

Images of Claytonia rubra housed at the Colorado State University Herbarium.

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[+] Habitat

Habitat of Claytonia rubra by Pamela Smith.
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In Colorado, Claytonia rubra is found on eroding slopes and trail-sides (Colorado Plant Database 2017), in moist, shady places, cool canyons and ravines (Ackerfield 2015). Plants are found on dry to moist cut banks, mossy trail sides, and small naturally disturbed patches in Douglas fir and Ponderosa pine forests, or Gambel’s oak woodlands. Additional associated plant species: Achillea lanulosa, Mahonia repens, Osmorhiza depauperata, Carex geyeri, Viola sp., Heuchera parvifolia, Galium sp., moss. One occurrence in an oak woodland was growing in a thick layer of oak leaves without other associated species (Colorado Natural Heritage Program occurrence records 2017). 
 

Elevation Range: 5,581 - 7,175 feet (1,701 - 2,187 meters)

[+] Distribution

Distribution of Claytonia rubra in Colorado according to mapped land ownership/management boundaries (CNHP 2017, COMaP).
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Distribution of Claytonia rubra in Colorado.
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Colorado endemic: No
Global range: This species has been documented from British Columbia to California east to South Dakota and Colorado (Flora of North America 2003).
 
State range: Known from Boulder, Douglas and Jefferson counties.

[+] Threats and Management Issues

Non-motorized recreation is the primary threat to the species.  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

    • Ackerfield, J. 2015. Flora of Colorado. Brit Press, Botanical Research Institute of Texas, Fort Worth, TX. 818 pp.
    • Colorado Natural Heritage Program and the Geospatial Centroid. 2017. The Colorado Ownership and Protection Map (COMaP). Colorado State University, Ft. Collins, CO.
    • Colorado Plant Database, Sponsored by the Colorado Native Plant Master Program, CSU Extension, http://jeffco.us/coopext/intro.jsp. Accessed in 2017.
    • Flora of North America Editorial Committee. 2003. Flora of North America North of Mexico. Vol. 4, Magnoliophyta: Caryophyllidae, part 1. Oxford University Press, New York. 559 pp.
    • Hickman, J. C., ed. 1993. The Jepson manual: Higher plants of California. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA. 1400 pp.
    • 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. 1996. Species distribution data at state and province level for vascular plant taxa of the United States, Canada, and Greenland (accepted records), from unpublished data files at the North Carolina Botanical Garden, December, 1996.
    • 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.
    • Kartesz, J.T. 2003. A synonymized checklist and atlas with biological attributes for the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. Draft April 2003 (including county distribution). North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, N.C.
    • USDA, NRCS. 2016. 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.

Last Updated

2017-01-20