Thalictrum heliophilum
Author: Wilken & DeMott

sun-loving meadowrue

Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)

Close up of Thalictrumheliophilum by Janis Huggins
Click image to enlarge.

Close up of Thalictrumheliophilum by Amie Wilsey
Click image to enlarge.
Close up of Thalictrum heliophilum courtesy of Westwater Engineering
Click image to enlarge.

Ranks and Status

Global rank: G2
State rank: S2
Federal protection status: USFS Sensitive, BLM Sensitive
State protection status: None

[+] Description and Phenology

Please see 1997 profile

General description: Dioecious perennial with fibrous-rooted rhizomes and several stout divergent branches to 50 cm in height. Basal and cauline leaves petiolate with ternately compound glabrous, glaucous blades; the cauline ones reduced upward. The leathery leaflets are broadly obovate, 5 to 8 mm long and 4 to 5 mm wide, and apically 3-toothed. Many-flowered panicles of apetalous flowers; nearly sessile achenes.

Look Alikes: Thalictrum heliophilum grows in open sunny sites (heliophilum = sun loving) while most other Thalictrum spp. prefer at least some shade. Thalictrum fendleri has larger leaflets (10-17 x 8-12 mm) that are not waxy (glaucus), more pistils per flower, and occurs in aspen groves and meadows (pers. comm. Minton 1994).

Phenology: Flowers from early June to the end of July (Scheck 1994); fruiting from July through August (Colorado Natural Heritage Program 2012).

[+] Habitat

Habitat of Thalictrum heliophilum by Janis Huggins
Click image to enlarge.

Habitat of Thalictrum heliophilum by Terry Bridgman
Click image to enlarge.

Found in open sunny sites on sparsely vegetated, dry shale slopes. Soils usually consist of Green River Shale Formation. Associated vegetation is usually very sparse, but may consist of rabbitbrush, snowberry, Astragalus lutosus, Mentzelia argillosa and Festuca dasyclada (Scheck 1994).

Elevation Range: 5,951 - 8,894 feet (1,814 - 2,711 meters)

[+] Distribution

Distribution of Thalictrum heliophilum in Colorado.
Click image to enlarge.

Colorado endemic: Yes
Global range: The global distribution is limited to an approximately 32 by 40 mile (52 by 64 kilometer) range in the Colorado River drainage in northwestern Colorado in Garfield, Rio Blanco, and Mesa counties (Panjabi and Anderson 2007).

[+] Threats and Management Issues

Summary results of an analysis of the status of Thalictrum heliophilum based on several ranking factors. This species was concluded to be “weakly conserved”. From Rondeau et al. 2011.
Click image to enlarge.

This species is threatened by oil shale mining, oil and gas development, exotic plant species invasions, small population size, grazing and trampling by wild ungulates, and climate change (Panjabi and Anderson 2007).

[+] References

    • Ackerfield, J. 2012. The Flora of Colorado. Colorado State University Herbarium. 433 pp.
    • Elliott, B. A., S. Spackman Panjabi, B. Kurzel, B. Neely, R. Rondeau, M. Ewing. 2009. Recommended Best Management Practices for Plants of Concern. Practices developed to reduce the impacts of oil and gas development activities to plants of concern. Unpublished report prepared by the Rare Plant Conservation Initiative for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • O'Kane, S. L. 1988. Colorado's Rare Flora. Great Basin Naturalist. 48(4):434-484.
    • Panjabi, S.S. and D.G. Anderson. 2007. Thalictrum heliophilum Wilken & Demott (Cathedral Bluffs meadow-rue): a technical conservation assessment. [Online]. USDA Forest Service, Rokcy Mountain Region.
    • Scheck, C. 1994. Special Status Plants Handbook Glenwood Springs Resource Area. Unpublished report prepared for the Bureau of Land Management, Glenwood Springs, CO.
    • 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.
    • 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.

Last Updated