Townsendia glabella
Author: Gray

Smooth Easter daisy

Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Close up of Townsendia glabella by Peggy Lyon
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Taxonomic Comments

Distinctions between Townsendia glabella and T. rothrockii are subtle. Types of the two names are probably better considered to be conspecific (Flora of North America 1993+).

Ranks and Status

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

[+] Description and Phenology

Townsendia glabella: artwork in progress

General description: Townsendia glabella is a perennial, cushion-forming plant (1-5 cm) with white to pink ray flowers and yellow disk flowers. Stems are more or less erect; and are strigose. The plants have basal and cauline leaves.  Leaf blades are spatulate to oblanceolate, usually glabrous, and sometimes sparsely strigillose. Phyllaries are 20-28+ in 3-4+ series, the longer more or less lanceolate, 5-9 mm, apices acute, abaxial faces glabrous or sparsely strigillose. Ray florets are 12-34+; corollas usually white, sometimes pink or blue adaxially (Flora of North America 2006). 

Look Alikes: Townsendia rothrockii has succulent leaves, and phyllaries that are obovate, ovate, or broadly lanceolate. Townsendia glabella does not have succulent leaves and the phyllaries are lanceolate and acute (Weber and Wittmann 2012).

Phenology: Flowers May through August (FNA 1993+).

[+] Herbarium Photos

Images of Townsendia glabella housed at the Colorado State University Herbarium.

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[+] Habitat

Habitat of Townsendia glabella by Peggy Lyon
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This species grows on steeply sloping shale slopes, at lower altitudes (Weber and Wittmann 2001). Found only on the Smokey Hill Member of Mancos Shale, Oyster Beds (Schnider 2012). Associated species include Pinus ponderosa, Quercus gambelii, Pinus edulis, Juniperus osteosperma, Cercocarpus montanus, Amelanchier utahensis, Rhus trilobata, Chrysothamnus nauseosus, Rosa woodsii, Purshia tridentata, Heterotheca villosa, Astragalus lonchocarpus, A. pattersonii, A. wingatanus, Eriogonum alatum, E. leptophyllum, E. lonchophyllum, Physaria acutifolia, Cymopterus fendleri, Mahonia repens, Oenothera albicaulis, Tetraneruis torreyana, Penstemon cespitosus, Oryzopsis hymenoides, Lathyrus eucosmus, Hymenopappus filifolius, Frasera speciosa, Erigeron flagellaris, Allium acuminatum, Antennaria parviflora, Artemisia ludoviciana (Colorado Natural Heritage Program 2012).

Elevation Range: 6,348 - 9,675 feet (1,935 - 2,949 meters)

[+] Distribution

Distribution of Townsendia glabella in Colorado according to mapped land ownership/management boundaries (CNHP 2012, COMaP v9 ).
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Distribution of Townsendia glabella in Colorado
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Colorado endemic: Yes
Global range: Colorado endemic; known from Archuleta, La Plata, Montezuma, and Rio Grande counties. Estimated range is 2,371 square kilometers (915 square miles), calculated in GIS by drawing a minimum convex polygon around the known occurrences (calculated by the Colorado Natural Heritage Program in 2008).

[+] Threats and Management Issues

Summary results of an analysis of the status of Townsendia glabella based on several ranking factors. This species was concluded to be “Weakly Conserved”. From Rondeau et al. 2011.
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Residential development is considered to be the primary threat to the species at this time (Rondeau et al. 2011). Other potential threats include recreation, grazing, and road maintenance.

[+] References

    • Ackerfield, J. 2012. The Flora of Colorado. Colorado State University Herbarium. 433 pp.
    • Colorado Natural Heritage Program. 2008. The Fifth Annual Colorado Rare Plant Symposium: G2 Plants of Colorado. Symposium Minutes. Available on-line
    • Colorado Natural Heritage Program. 2012. Biodiversity Tracking and Conservation System. Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO.
    • Flora of North America Editorial Committee, ed. (FNA). 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. Oxford Univ. Press, New York, Oxford.
    • Harrington, H.D. 1954. Manual of the plants of Colorado. Sage Press, Chicago. 666 pp.
    • Heil, K.D., S.L. O'Kane Jr., L.M. Reeves, and A. Clifford, 2013. Flora of the Four Corners Region, Vascular Plants of the San Juan River Drainage; Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah. Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St. Louis, Missouri. 1098 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.
    • 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.
    • Schneider, A. 2013. Wildflowers, ferns, and trees of the Four Corners regions of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah. Online:
    • 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.
    • Weber, W.A., and R.C. Wittmann. 1996a. Colorado flora: Eastern slope. Revised edition. Univ. Press of Colorado, Niwot, Colorado. 524 pp.

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