Anticlea vaginatus
Author: (Rydb.) J.F. Macbr.

Alcove death camas

Liliaceae (Lily Family)

Close up of Anticlea vaginatus by Jill Handwerk.
Click image to enlarge.

Taxonomic Comments

Ackerfield (2015) and others use the name Zigadenus vaginatus. Ackerfield notes that this species may represent a variety of Z. elegans, but it occurs in a much different kind of habitat.

Ranks and Status

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

[+] Description and Phenology

Anticlea vaginatus by Suzanne Wuerthele.
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General description: Plants 3-10 dm tall, or more. Flowers in panicles or less commonly in racemes; tepals 6-7 mm long, white. Leaves 20-70 cm long, 6-18 mm wide (Spackman et al. 1997).

Look Alikes: Anticlea elegans is smaller (less than 50 cm tall), has larger flowers (15- 20 mm long), and occurs mainly at higher elevations (Spackman et al. 1997). 

Phenology: Flowers late July to the end of October (Spackman et al. 1997).

[+] Habitat

Habitat of Anticlea vaginatus by Jill Handwerk.
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Hanging gardens with seeps and loose rich soil under overhanging canyon walls (Spackman et al. 1997) surrounded by pinyon-juniper woodlands. Associated taxa include Dodecatheon pulchellum, Calamagrostis scopoulorum, Carex aurea, Epipactis gigantea, Aquilegia micrantha, and Clematis ligusticifolia. 

Elevation Range: 5,216 - 5,886 feet (1,590 - 1,794 meters)

[+] Distribution

Distribution of Anticlea vaginatus in Colorado according to mapped land ownership/management boundaries (CNHP 2015, COMaP v9).
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Distribution of Anticlea vaginatus in Colorado.
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Colorado endemic: No
Global range: Regional endemic with a global range in an area between 16,500-250,000 square km (John Spence 2012). Occurs in NE Arizona (Navajo Nation), SE Utah and SW Colorado, on canyon walls in Badlands.
State range: Known from Moffat County in Colorado; the only records are from Dinosaur National Monument. The estimated range in Colorado is 6 square kilometers (2 square miles), calculated in 2008 by the Colorado Natural Heritage Program in GIS by drawing a minimum convex polygon around the known occurrences. Also known from Utah and Arizona.

[+] Threats and Management Issues

Summary results of an analysis of the status of Anticlea vaginatus based on several ranking factors. This species was concluded to be "Effectively Conserved”. From Rondeau et al. 2011.
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The primary threat at this time is considered to be hydrologic alteration (Rondeau et al. 2011). It is not known if all of the occurrences are or are not threatened by these activities. The plants occur in hanging garden communities which are dependent on seeps and springs on the cliff faces; diversion of the mesa top springs and streams to other uses would disrupt this hydrologic system. Populations in Colorado do not appear threatened by human impacts.

[+] References

    • Ackerfield, J. 2015. Flora of Colorado. Brit Press, Botanical Research Institute of Texas, Fort Worth, TX. 818 pp.
    • Cronquist, A., A. H. Holmgren, N. H. Holmgren, J. L. Reveal and P. K. Holmgren. 1977. Intermountain Flora Vascular Plants of the Intermountain West, USA: vol. 6. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, NY.
    • 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. 2002. Flora of North America North of Mexico. Vol. 26. Magnoliophyta: Liliidae: Liliales and Orchidales. Oxford Univ. Press, New York. xxvi + 723 pp.
    • Franklin, M.A. 2005. Plant information compiled by the Utah Natural Heritage Program: A progress report. Publication Number 05-40. Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Salt Lake City, Utah. 341 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.
    • NatureServe. 2015. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available (Accessed: 2015).
    • 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. Noteworthy Collections, Colorado. Madrono, 35(4):353-359.
    • Palmquist, E.C. 2011. Phylogeny and evolutionary history of Anticlea vaginata Rydb. (Melanthiaceae): a hanging garden endemic. Final Report to the Colorado Plateau Cooperative Ecosystems Unit.
    • 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.
    • Roth, D. 2008. Last update May 15. Species account for Zigadenus vaginatus. Navajo Natural Heritage Program, Window Rock, AZ. []
    • Smithsonian Institution. 1980. Draft abstracts on rare plants. Unpublished. Perhaps 100 individual abstracts.
    • 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. 2015. The PLANTS Database ( National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.
    • Utah Native Plant Society. 2003-2012. Utah rare plant guide. A.J. Frates editor/coordinator. Salt Lake City, UT. Utah Native Plant Society. Online. Available: (accessed 2012).
    • 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.
    • Welsh, S.L. 1979. Illustrated manual of proposed endangered and threatened plants of Utah. Brigham Young Univ., Provo, UT. 318 pp.
    • Welsh, S.L., N.D. Atwood, S. Goodrich and L.C. Higgins. (Eds.) 2003. A Utah Flora. 3rd edition. Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, U.S.A. 912 pp.

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