Gutierrezia elegans
Author: A. Schneider & P. Lyon

Lone Mesa snakeweed

Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Close up of Gutierrezia elegans by Peggy Lyon
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Close up of Gutierrezia elegans. Photo ©Al Schneider,
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Ranks and Status

Global rank: G1
State rank: S1
Federal protection status: USFS Sensitive, BLM Sensitive
State protection status: None

[+] Description and Phenology

Gutierrezia elegans: by Dorothy DePaulo
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General description: A low, compact subshrub with woody caudex branches and decumbent-ascending leafy stems, yellow flowers in short-pedunculate heads in congested corymboid clusters, and short 3-nerved leaves (Schneider et al. 2008).

Look Alikes: Differs from other species of Gutierrezia in having larger flowers and shorter, broader leaves (CNHP 2012).

Phenology: Flowers July through early September; fruits are produced in August and September (Colorado Natural Heritage Program 2012).

[+] Herbarium Photos

Images of Gutierrezia elegans housed at the Colorado State University Herbarium.

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Click image to enlarge.

[+] Habitat

Habitat of Gutierrezia elegans by Peggy Lyon
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This species is found on outcrops of grayish, argillaceous, bare Mancos shale outcrops with thin soil over the shale. Gutierrezia elegans is scattered to abundant in the barrens and also occurs with Artemisia nova and other species in sites with deeper soil over the shale.  Associated species inlcude Helianthella microcephala, Tetraneuris acaulis, Eriogonum lonchophyllum, Petradoria pumila, Astragalus missouriensis var. amphibolus, and Heterotheca villosa  Pinus ponderosa and pinyon-juniper characterize the surrounding slopes (Schneider et al. 2008, CNHP 2012).

Elevation Range: 7,526 - 7,808 feet (2,294 - 2,380 meters)

[+] Distribution

Distribution of Gutierrezia elegans in Colorado according to mapped land ownership/management boundaries (CNHP 2012, COMaP v9 ).
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Distribution of Gutierrezia elegans in Colorado
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Colorado endemic: Yes
Global range: This species is known only from Dolores County, Colorado.

[+] Threats and Management Issues

The species may be threatened by oil and gas development, seismic testing, excessive or repeated erosion, motorized recreation, over-grazing, water development, and climate change (Panjabi et al. 2011).

[+] References

    • Ackerfield, J. 2012. The Flora of Colorado. Colorado State University Herbarium. 433 pp.
    • Colorado Natural Heritage Program. 2005. The Second Annual Colorado Rare Plant Symposium: G1 Plants of Colorado. Symposium Minutes. Available on-line
    • Colorado Natural Heritage Program. 2010. The Seventh Annual Colorado Rare Plant Symposium: G1 Plants of Colorado. Symposium Minutes. Available on-line
    • Colorado Natural Heritage Program. 2012. Biodiversity Tracking and Conservation System. Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO.
    • Lavender, A.E., M.M. Fink, S.E. Linn, D.M. Theobald. 2011. Colorado Ownership, Management, and Protection v9 Database. Colorado Natural Heritage Program and Geospatial Centroid, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO. (30 September).
    • 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.
    • Panjabi, S., B. Neely and P. Lyon. 2011. Preliminary Conservation Action Plan for Rare Plants in the Plateau Creek and Miramonte Reservoir West Priority Action Areas. Prepared by The Nature Conservancy and the Colorado Natural Heritage Program. Unpublished report prepared for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. 28 pp.
    • Schneider, A. 2013. Wildflowers, Ferns, and Trees of the Four Corners Regions of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah. Accessed on-line at
    • Schneider, A., P. Lyon, and G. Nesom. 2008. Gutierrezia elegans sp. nov. (Asteraceae: Astereae), a shale barren endemic of southwestern Colorado. J. Bot. Res. Inst. Texas 2(2): 771-774.
    • 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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