Botanical research in the state of Colorado has identified 16 plant species that are listed by the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) as threatened or endangered (USFWS 2012); and over 500 plant species
considered to be of special concern by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM),
the USFWS, and/or the Colorado Natural Heritage Program (CNHP 2012).
The first edition of the Colorado Rare Plant Field Guide (Spackman et al. 1997; “the purple book”) provides
summary information for 173 rare plant species. As useful as the Guide has been, it has become out of date.
Since 1997, numerous new species have been described, new locations found, and Heritage ranks, USFS and BLM
sensitive status, and USFWS listings have changed accordingly.
As we work to renew the 1997 Guide, our goal is to update the 173 species profiles for the species included
in the original guide that are still species of concern, and add 106 species so that the Guide will include
current information for all listed threatened, endangered, and candidate plant species, all plant species
listed by the BLM (BLM 1990) and the USFS (USFS 2011) as sensitive, and all species ranked G1-G3 by CNHP
(CNHP 2012, see Information—Definitions on this website).
As the profiles are updated, or created a new, they will be posted here in the Colorado Rare Plant Guide
on the CNHP website. The Master Plant List guides the user to the 1997 profile, or if available, the new/updated 2013 profile.
Each species profile presents information on nomenclature, taxonomy, a description of the plant and
potential look-alikes, phenology, global and state distribution (text and a map), habitat, conservation
issues, and references. Photographs of the rare plants and their habitats are included, as well as
technical botanical artwork showing distinguishing characteristics (see Introduction—Using the Guide on this website).
Through tabs to the left, we present tables that show species distributions according to USFS, BLM, and county boundaries.
Data acquired over more than thirty years by the Colorado Natural Areas Program (CNAP), The
Nature Conservancy (TNC), the Colorado Natural Heritage Program (CNHP), and numerous individuals
through field research, herbarium research, published floras, and scientific literature were used to produce
the species profiles, and compile the distribution information presented in the maps and tables.
As new information on rare, threatened, and endangered species is acquired, these data should be
submitted to CNHP at Colorado State University. The Colorado Natural Heritage Program serves as the
central repository for information on rare species and natural communities in the state, and welcomes
all editorial comments on the guide.
The Colorado Rare Plant Guide has been produced through the efforts of the Colorado Rare Plant
Technical Committee, a committee representing government and private interests, and concerned with
protecting Colorado's flora. The Committee anticipates that a guide to Colorado's rarest plants will
facilitate the collection of botanical data, be indispensable to the establishment of conservation
priorities, and enable informed land management decisions.
We’ve added 84 new species profiles! See the “Updated Profile” column on the
Master List page.
Your contribution, no matter how small, will help us update the remaining profiles and add the
rest of our tracked species. Click here
to support us, and indicate under “Comments” that your gift is to support the rare plant guide.