Telesonix jamesii
Author: (Torr.) Raf.

James' telesonix

Saxifragaceae (Saxifrage Family)

Close up of Telesonix jamesii by Tim and Ann Henson
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Close up of Telesonix jamesii by Steve Olson
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Taxonomic Comments

Harrington (1954) lists this species under Saxifraga jamesii Torrey. Other synonyms that have been used for the species are Boykinia jamesii (Torrey) Engler and Therofon jamesii (Torrey) Wheelock (Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 1993+). An alternate common name that is used is James' false saxifrage. Until recently, Telesonix heucheriformis has been recognized as a variety of T. jamesii (Beatty, et al., 2004; Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 1993+). That species has violet-purple petals, petals 1.3 times the length of the sepals (1.75 times in T. jamesii), and styles connate for half their length (3/4 in T. jamesii). It is also distributed to the north and west of Colorado (Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 1993+).

Ranks and Status

Global rank: G2G3
State rank: S2
Federal protection status: None
State protection status: None

[+] Description and Phenology

Telesonix jamesii: by Jan Boyd Haring
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General description: Telesonix jamesii is a perennial herb arising from a scaly, branched rhizome (Beatty, et al., 2004; Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 2009). Leaves in the basal rosette may be up to 70mm (2.75 inches) long and 55mm (2.16 inches) wide. These have long petioles and cordate bases, are kidney-shaped (reniform) or wedge-shaped (broadly cuneate), and have shallow, rounded lobes with rounded marginal teeth (doubly crenate). The alternately arranged stem leaves are similar, but smaller and have shorter petioles. The leaves and stems are glandular pubescent. The flowering stems (scapes) are up to 25.4cm (10 inches) tall (pers. obs. S. Olson), although 18cm (7.1 inches) is the tallest noted in most available manuals. The general appearance of individual flowers is round to about 1cm (0.39 in.) in diameter (Kelso, et al., 2010). Individual flowers have five petals that are 7 to 11mm (0.28 to 0.43 inch) by 4 to 7 mm (0.15 to 0.28 inch) with a narrow stalk (claw) at their base up to 3mm (0.12 inch) long. Their color is described as crimson-purple in FNA (2009), but has been called rosy to magenta pink (Kelso, et al., 2010). Flowers are arranged in paniculate cymes, appearing crowded and cylindrical. Fruit is an ovoid capsule containing 50 to 100 brown, smooth, oblong seeds (Beatty, et al., 2004).

Look Alikes: Telesonix jamesii is not likely to be confused with other taxa when it is in flower. A few other saxifrages have dark green foliage, but lack the glandular pubescence and distinct leaf shape of this species.

Phenology: Annual growth begins between late April and early June depending on elevation (pers. comm. S. Olson). Flowers appear in July and August (Beatty, et al., 2004). Fruits are present from August through October.

[+] Herbarium Photos

Images of Telesonix jamesii housed at the Colorado State University Herbarium.

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[+] Habitat

Habitat of Telesonix jamesii by Tim and Ann Henson
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Telesonix jamesii occurs from montane to alpine climate zones.  It is found on cliffs, ledges, rock outcrops, boulders and scree slopes. Plants have been observed on all aspects, and on flat to vertical slopes (cliffs).  Populations occur in alpine areas and in coniferous or aspen forests with varying amounts of shade (Beatty, et al., 2004).  Most sites are on Pikes Peak granite, but the few populations in Rocky Mountain National Park are on Precambrian gneiss and schist.  The local moisture regimes can be mesic to xeric.  In wooded areas, this species has been found under limber pine (Pinus flexilis), lodgepole pine (P. contorta), bristlecone pine (P. aristata), ponderosa pine (P. ponderosa), Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii), and Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii).  Shrubby associates include fivepetal cliffbush (Jamesia americana), wax currant (Ribes cereum), common juniper (Juniperus communis), and shrubby cinquefoil (Dasiphora fruticosa ssp. floribunda).  Graminoids associating with Telesonix include curly sedge (Carex rupestris), Bellardi bog sedge (Kobresia myosuroides), spike trisetum (Trisetum spicatum), and alpine fescue (Festuca brachyphylla).  A wide variety of forbs may associate with Telesonix as well, including Hall's beardtongue (Penstemon hallii), Colorado blue columbine (Aquilegia coerulea), Front Range alumroot (Heuchera hallii), Fendler's sandwort (Arenaria fendleri), and Ross' avens (Geum rossii) (Colorado Natural Heritage Program 2012; Clark, et al., 2010).

Elevation Range: 6,745 - 13,727 feet (2,056 - 4,184 meters)

[+] Distribution

Distribution of Telesonix jamesii in Colorado according to mapped land ownership/management boundaries (CNHP 2012, COMaP v9 ).
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Distribution of Telesonix jamesii in Colorado
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Colorado endemic: Yes
Global range: Occurs in Colorado and possibly New Mexico in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains (see specimen at RM) (Larson et al. 2014).  In Colorado, plants have been found in El Paso, Jefferson, Larimer, Park, and Teller counties, from Rocky Mountain National Park to the Pikes Peak region (Colorado Natural Heritage Program 2012).  There are 20 to 25 documented sites in Colorado, perhaps totaling 100,000 individuals (Beatty, et al., 2004). 

[+] Threats and Management Issues

Summary results of an analysis of the status of Telesonix jamesii based on several ranking factors. This species was concluded to be “Effectively Conserved”. From Rondeau et al. 2011.
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Potential threats to Telesonix jamesii may include unregulated recreation, construction and maintenance of roads and trails, proximity to unpaved roads, collecting, non-native invasive plants, stochastic events, and climate change (Beatty, et al. 2004).  Portions of the Front Range are in close proximity to rapidly expanding urban areas.  More people desiring greater access to undeveloped public lands could increase pressure on this plant.  Any of these threats may be greater at higher elevations due to the short growing season.

[+] References

    • Ackerfield, J. 2012. The Flora of Colorado. Colorado State University Herbarium. 433 pp.
    • Beatty, B.L., W.F. Jennings, and R.C. Rawlinson. 2004b. Telesonix jamesii (Torr.) Raf. (James' telesonix): a technical conservation assessment. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region. Online. Available: (Accessed 2006).
    • Clark, D., L. Yeatts, and M. Gellner. 2010. 2009 floristic inventory of the Alpine Lab site on Windy Point, and neighboring environs on Pikes Peak. Report submitted to Pike-San Isabel National Forests from Kathryn Kalmbach Herbarium, Denver Botanic Garden, Denver, CO. 13 pp. + appendices.
    • Colorado Natural Heritage Program. 2006. The Third Annual Colorado Rare Plant Symposium: G2 Plants of Southeast Colorado. Symposium Minutes. Available on-line
    • Colorado Natural Heritage Program. 2012. Biodiversity Tracking and Conservation System. Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO.
    • Colorado Natural Heritage Program. 2012. The Ninth Annual Colorado Rare Plant Symposium: G2 and G3 Plants of Southeastern Colorado. Symposium Minutes. Available on-line
    • Cronquist, A., A.H. Holmgren, N.H. Holmgren, J.L. Reveal, P.K. Holmgren. 1997. Intermountain Flora, Volume 3, Part A Subclass Rosidae (except Fabales). The New York Botanical Gardens. Bronx, New York. 446 pp.
    • Flora of North America Editorial Committee, ed. (FNA). 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. Oxford Univ. Press, New York, Oxford.
    • Flora of North America Editorial Committee. 2009. Flora of North America North of Mexico. Vol. 8. Magnoliophyta: Paeoniaceae to Ericaceae. Oxford University Press, New York. xxiv + 585 pp.
    • Harrington, H.D. 1954. Manual of the plants of Colorado. Sage Press, Chicago. 666 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. 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.
    • Kelso, T., A. Markstein, and G. Maentz. 2010. Flora of the Pikes Peak region: volume 9. Department of Biology, Colorado College, Colorado Springs, CO. 58 pp.
    • Larson, J., B. Reif, B.E. Nelson, and R. L. Hartman. Floristic studies in north central New Mexico, U.S.A. The Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas 8(1):271.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Rydberg, P.A. 1906. Flora of Colorado. Agricultural Experiment Station of the Colorado Agricultural College, Fort Collins.
    • 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, Eastern Slope, A Field Guide to the Vascular Plants, Fourth Edition. Boulder, Colorado. 555 pp.

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