Oonopsis puebloensis

Pueblo goldenweed

Asteraceae (sunflower family)

Close up of Oonopsis puebloensis by Susan Panjabi.

Close up of Oonopsis puebloensis by Georgia Doyle.
Close up of Oonopsis puebloensis by Susan Panjabi.
Close up of Oonopsis puebloensis by Susan Panjabi.

Taxonomic Comments

This species is awaiting formal publication by Greg Brown, University of Wyoming. It was not included in Weber and Wittmann (2012), but is included in Ackerfield (2015).

Ranks and Status

Global rank: G2
State rank: S2
Federal protection status: None
State protection status: None

Description and Phenology

Oonopsis puebloensis by Linda Shoemaker.

General description: Pueblo goldenweed (Oonopsis puebloensis) is a low-growing (1-6 dm tall) perennial sub-shrub, with leafy stems topped by yellow ray and disk flowers and strongly reflexed phyllaries. The leaves are linear-lanceolate to linear-oblanceolate, and alternate on the stems.  Stems and leaves are covered with fine, soft hairs.  The woody stalk persists.  The usually solitary heads have both disc and ray flowers with the ray flowers numbering 12-30 (Brown 1993, Spackman et al. 1997, Ackerfield 2015).

Look Alikes: Oönopsis puebloensis could be confused with O. foliosa which also grows in similar habitats, but has smooth or barely hairy leaves.  The plants are taller, with 2-6 flowerheads per stem, and the phyllaries are not reflexed.  Oönopsis foliosa also has a wider range (Brown 1993, Spackman et al. 1997).

Phenology: Flowers June-August (Ackerfield 2015).


Habitat of Oonopsis puebloensis by Susan Panjabi.

Habitat of Oonopsis puebloensis by Georgia Doyle.

Habitat of Oonopsis puebloensis by Susan Panjabi.

Habitat of Oonopsis puebloensis by Georgia Doyle.

This species is found on barren shale outcrops of the Smoky Hill member of the Niobrara Formation in sparse shrublands or pinyon-juniper woodlands. Associated taxa include: Frankenia jamesii, Oryzopsis hymenoides, Artemisia bigelovii, Penstemon versicolor, as well as several other rare plants such as Mirabilis rotundifolia (Oxybaphus rotundifolius), Oenothera harringtonii, and Parthenium (Bolophyta) tetraneuris.

Elevation Range: 4,836 - 6,119 feet (1,474 - 1,865 meters)


Colorado endemic: Yes
Global range: An edaphic endemic found on the Smoky Hill member of the Niobrara Shale Formation. Known from El Paso, Fremont and Pueblo counties, Colorado. 
Distribution of Oonopsis puebloensis in Colorado according to mapped land ownership/management boundaries (CNHP 2017, COMaP).

Distribution of Oonopsis puebloensis in Colorado.

Threats and Management Issues

Summary results of an analysis of the status of Oonopsis puebloensis based on several ranking factors. This species was concluded to be "Weakly Conserved”. From Rondeau et al. 2011.

The major threats to Oonopsis puebloensis are from excavation by a local cement plant and development of the species' habitat for housing. These threats have been documented for the other rare endemic plant species inhabiting the same shale habitat. The shale substrates occur mostly on private land, much of it owned by a local cement plant and used for mining subsurficial limestone. In addition, residential development associated with the cities of Pueblo, Pueblo West, Penrose, Portland, Florence, and Canon City are expanding into the area. The Niobrara shale is exposed on the surface in a fairly restricted area west of Pueblo, and it is on these exposed surfaces that other endemic plant species occur. The cement plant is located in the area because of the ease of mining limestone from these exposed surfaces. Without protection planning, habitat for the rare plant species, including Oonopsis puebloensis, could become so restricted and fragmented that viable populations cannot be sustained.


    • 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
    • Brown, G. 1996. Personal communication with CNHP staff.
    • Brown, G. K. 1993. Systematics of Oönopsis (Asteraceae). [Abstract.] Amer. J. Bot. 80(6, suppl.): 133-134.
    • Colorado Natural Heritage Program and the Geospatial Centroid. 2017. The Colorado Ownership and Protection Map (COMaP). Colorado State University, Ft. Collins, CO.
    • NatureServe. Unpublished. Concept reference for taxa which have not yet been described; to be used as a placeholder until a citation is available which describes the circumscription of the taxon.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Theobald, D.M., N. Peterson, and G. Wilcox. 2005. Colorado Ownership, Management, and Protection v4 database. Natural Resource Ecology Lab, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO. 30 June 2005. www.nrel.colostate.edu/projects/comap
    • 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.

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