Front Range, Eastern Slope, Rocky Mountains Checklist Flora of Native and Naturalized Vascular Plants of Golden and Vicinity, Jefferson County, Colorado (Continued)  

Tom Schweich  

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Topics in this Article:
History of Botanic Exploration
Useful Publications
Floristic Tour of the Golden Area
Literature Cited
 Golden, Colorado sits in a valley formed by erosion along the Golden fault, the geotectonic boundary between the North American Cordillera and the Great Plains. Somewhat like Mono Lake, for which I have also prepared a checklist flora, it sits at a boundary, or perhaps ecotone. Things are always more interesting at the boundaries. I started this project when I realized no such list had been prepared for my newly adopted city. I hope you find this checklist flora helpful. Please write to me if you have questions or comments.








Ecological Systems of Colorado

  The Colorado Natural Heritage Program page on Ecological Systems of Colorado is found at: .

Literature Cited:
- Faber-Langendoen, Don, Ralph H. Crawford, and David L. Tart, 2009.
- Federal Geographic Data Committee, 2008.
- Jennings, Michael D., Don Faber-Langendoen, Orie L. Loucks, Robert K. Peet,m and David Roberts, 2009.  

  Comparison of published vegetation types.
CNHP, 2005O'Shea-Stone, 2002Kilburn & White, 1992Zeise, 1976
    Lichen-rock type. Lichen stand types. Areas of bare rock from steep lava cliffs to the conical peaks on the mesa surface.
  • Short-grass grassland. Bouteloua gracilis, Bromus tectorum, with Alyssum parviflorum, and Opuntia sp., Echinocereus viridiflorus, Coryphantha missouriensis, Coryphantha vivipara var. vivipara. Also Hesperostipa comata (Syn: Stipa c.), and Yucca glauca. Some short shrubs of Chrysothamnus nauseosus ssp. graveolens, Prunus virginiana (Syn: Padus v.), Rhus aromatica ssp. trilobata. Celtis reticulata at edge of mesa. Traditionally dominated by Bouteloua gracilis and Buchloe dactyloides, but now dominated by Bromus tectorum.
Grassland type. Bromus tectorum and Alyssum simplex (Syn: A. minus. Occasional Achnatherum scribneri (Syn: Stipa s.) and Andropogon gerardii. Mixed-grass stand types. Dominated by Bromus tectorum and Agropyron sp. (Elymus sp. ?), with Buchloe dactyloides, and Alyssum alyssoides, Eriogonum umbellatum Torr., Heterotheca villosa, Opuntia compressa, Yucca glauca, and Ericameria nauseosa (Syn: Chrysothamnus nauseosus). West, south, and east exposures.
  Mixed-grass grassland. Stipa comata, Pascopyrum smithii, Bouteloua gracilis, Bromus tectorum, with Andropogon gerardii, Bouteloua curtipendula, Aristida purpurea, and Nassella viridula, with a large number of forbs. Mesa slopes and toe areas of STM.
RM Aspen Forest and Woodland - - -
RM Cliff, Canyon and Massive Bedrock - - -
RM Dry-Mesic and Mesic Montane Mixed Conifer Forest and Woodland - - -
SRM Pinyon-Juniper Woodland - - -
SRM Ponderosa Pine Woodland - - -
Rocky Mountain Lower Montane - Foothill Shrubland.
  • Cercocarpus montanus Shrubland Alliance
    • Series determination requires more data collection.
Upland shrubland. Cercoparpus montanus, with sparse cover of Bromus tectorum intermixed with Hesperostipa comata (Syn: Stipa c.), Yucca glauca, and many cacti.

Ravine shrubland. Skunkbush, chokecherry and Prunus americana, in dense thickets. Few plains cottonwoods and Salix amygdaloides

Shrubland type

  • Mixed shrub community. Symphoricarpos occidentalis, Cercocarpus montanus, Rhus [aromatica] ssp. trilobata, Ribes cereum, Prunus americana, and Prunus virginiana. Understory of Poa pratensis, Bromus tectorum, Elymus trachycaulus (Syn: Agropyron trachycaulum), Eriogonum umbellatum, Alyssum alyssoides, etc.
Mixed shrub stand types. Rhus [aromatica] ssp. trilobata, Ribes cereum Dougl., Symphoricarpos occidentalis, Cercocarpus montanus, Prunus virginiana L., Prunus americana Marsh. Acer glabrum in dense patches. Mostly north exposures.
    Shrubland type.

  • Mountain mahogany community. Cercocarpus montanus with an understory of Alyssum alysoides, Bromus tectorum, Agropyron cristatum (Syn: A. desertorum), Eriogonum umbellatum, etc.
Pure shrub stand types. Cercocarpus montanus, with Bromus tectorum, Alyssum alyssoides, and Eriogonum umbellatum.
    Grassland-shrub type. Common foothills species: Symphoricarpos occidentalis, Prunus americana, Rhus trilobata, and Ribes cereum. Grasses are Poa pratensis, Bromus tectorum, and Elymus trachycaulus (Syn: Agropyron trachycaulum). Also Cercoparpus montanus, Symphoricarpos rotundifolius (Syn: S. oreophilus), Prunus virginiana melanocarpa, Rosa arkansana, Physocarpus monogynus, and Ribes aureum. Shrub cover within grassland matrix is significant, but less than 50%. Shrub-grass stand types. Shrubs of Crataegus succulenta (Syn: C. erythropoda), Rosa sp., Rhus trilobata, Prunus virginiana, Prunus americana, Celtus reticulata, and Ribes cereum, with Agropyron sp. (Syn: Elymus sp. ?), Bromus tectorum, Achnatherum hymenoides (Syn: Oryzopsis h., and Alyssum alyssoides. Patches of shrubs in mixed grass-forb areas.
NA Arid West Emergent Marsh - - -
  Wetlands. Cottonwoods and willows, with Carex spp., and Juncus spp., and a variety of grasses and forbs. Patches of Typha spp.. Hydrology alteration.   Riparian (streamside) stand types. Salix exigua, Populus sargentii, Eleocharis macrostachya, Scirpus lacustris L., and Mentha spicata L.
    Woodland type.

  • Mountain maple community. Dense community of small Acer glabrum just below cliffs or in ravines with a dense understory of mixed shrub. North and east slopes.
  • Cottonwood woodland community. Scattered cottonwoods (Populus deltoides ssp. monilifera (Syn: P. sargentii), and P. angustifolia) along permanent and intermittent streams. In Big Ravine, Acer negundo, Salix exigua, and S. amygdaloides also occur. Other shrubs also form a dense understory.
  • Juniper Savannah community. Juniperus scopulorum with an understory of typical grassland.
Woodland stand types. Juniperus scopulorum, with Bromus tectorum.
WGP (Western Great Plains) Cliff, Outcrop, and Shale Barrens - - -
WGP (Western Great Plains) Closed Depression Wetland - - -
WGP (Western Great Plains) Foothill and Piedmont Grassland - - -
WGP (Western Great Plains) Riparian Woodland, Shrubland and Herbaceous - - -
WGP (Western Great Plains) Shortgrass Prairie - - -


  1. [R3C3] Stipa comata grassland of 30-60 acres near western rim of mountain, may be partly due to effects of the 1988 fire.

Recognized Ecological Systems


Ecological Systems Recognized by the Colorado Natural Heritage System

Literature Cited:
- Colorado Natural Heritage Program, 2005.  

Ecological systems are dynamic assemblages or complexes of plant and/or animal communities that 1) occur together on the landscape; 2) are tied together by similar ecological processes, underlying abiotic environmental factors or gradients; and 3) form a readily identifiable unit on the ground. These systems provide a coarser level unit than plant associations and alliances as defined under the International Vegetation Classification standard, and are more easily identified on the ground.

The descriptions and summarized viability guidelines presented here are intended to serve as a tool for conservation and management planning by providing a context for conservation and management (i.e., what systems do we have in Colorado), and by providing easy access to ranking and evaluation criteria for key ecological attributes of each system (i.e., what is the condition of our systems).

System descriptions and viability guidelines are based on materials compiled by NatureServe or developed by the Colorado Natural Heritage Program. Funding for the development of these documents was provided in part by the Bureau of Land Management, The Nature Conservancy, and the USDA Forest Service (CNHP, 2005).

Literature Cited:
- Colorado Natural Heritage Program, 2005.  


Southwest Regional Gap Analysis Project (SWReGAP)

Literature Cited:
- Rondeau, R., K. Decker, J. Handwerk, J. Siemers, L. Grunau, and C. Pague, 2011.  

The Southwest Regional Gap Analysis Project (SWReGAP) was a mapping and assessment of biodiversity for the five-state region encompassing Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah. The area comprises approximately 150 million hectares (560,000 square miles) representing 1/5 the coterminous United States. The primary objective of the project was to use a coordinated approach to create detailed, seamless maps of the land cover, habitat for native terrestrial vertebrate species, land stewardship, and management status for the Southwest region. This information was analyzed to identify animal species habitats and natural land cover types that are underrepresented on land managed for their long term conservation. SWReGAP was a multi-institutional effort with scientists based in all five southwest states.

USNVC -- United States National Vegetation Classification
  The U.S. National Vegetation Classification is supported by a formal partnership between the federal agencies, the Ecological Society of America (ESA), and NatureServe, working through the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) Vegetation Subcommittee. Primary signators include the U.S. Forest Service (which chairs the subcommittee), ESA, NatureServe, and the U.S. Geological Survey Core Science Systems (USGS/CSS). Together we are committed to supporting the implementation and maintenance of the National Vegetation Classification (NVC) Standard (FGDC 2008).
  The overall objective of the Vegetation and Information Standards is to support the use of a consistent national vegetation classification system (NVCS) to produce uniform statistics in vegetation resources from vegetation cover data at the national level. It is important that, as agencies map or inventory vegetated Earth cover, they collect enough data accurately and precisely to translate it for national reporting, aggregation, and comparisons. Adoption of the Vegetation Classification and Information Standards in subsequent development and application of vegetation mapping schemes will facilitate the compilation of regional and national summaries. In turn, the consistent collection of such information will eventually support the detailed, quantitative, geo-referenced basis for vegetation cover modeling, mapping, and analysis at the field level.


Literature Cited:
- Faber-Langendoen, Dom, Todd Keeler-Wolf, Del Meidinger, Dave Tart, Bruce Hoagland, Carmen Josse, Gonzalo Navarro, Serguei Ponomarenko, Jean-Peirre Saucier, Alan Weakley, and Patrick Comer, 2014.



GIS Resources to Accompany the Checklist Flora




How the Flora is Built




Source Data




Literature Cited:
- Colbry, Vera Lyola, 1957.  




Literature Cited:
- Hufford, Larry, Michelle M. McMahon, Anna M. Sherwood, Gail Reeves, and Mark W, Chase, 2003.  

Names recognized by Harrington (1954) Names recognized by Snow (2009) Names recognized by Weber and Wittmann (2012) Names recognized by Ackerfield (2015, expected) Mentzelia (s.l.) represented by collections in Jefferson County, Colorado
Section Bartonia
Mentzelia multiflora (Nutt.) Gray
(Syn: M. speciosa Osterhout., Nuttallia multiflora (Nutt.) Greene, N. speciosa (Osterh.) Greene, N. sinuata Rydb.)
Mentzelia multiflora (Nutt.) A. Gray var. multiflora Nuttallia multiflora (Nuttall) Greene
(Incl: N. sinuata, N. speciosa)
Mentzelia multiflora (Nutt.) Gray M. multiflora (Nutt.) Gray
Mentzelia sinuata (Rydb.) R. J. Hill Mentzelia speciosa Osterh. var. sinuata Mentzelia sinuata (Rydb.) R. J. Hill
Mentzelia speciosa Osterh. Mentzelia speciosa Osterh. var. speciosa Mentzelia speciosa Osterhout
Mentzelia nuda (Pursh) T. & G.
(Syn: Nuttallia nuda (Pursh) Greene)
Mentzelia nuda (Pursh) Torr. & A. Gray Nuttallia nuda (Pursh) Greene Mentzelia nuda (Pursh) Torr. & A. Gray M. nuda (Pursh) Torr. & Gray
Section Trachyphytum
Mentzelia albicaulis Dougl ex Hook. Mentzelia albicaulis (Douglas ex Hook.) Douglas ex Torr. & A. Gray Acrolasia albicaulis (Douglas) Rydberg Mentzelia albicaulis (Douglas ex Hook.) Douglas ex Torr. & A. Gray
(Syn: M. montana (Davidson) Davidson)
M. albicaulis (Dougl. ex Hook.) Dougl. ex Torr. & Gray
Not recognized Mentzelia montana (Davids.) Davids. Not recognized M. montana (Davidson) Davidsona
Mentzelia dispersa Wats. Mentzelia dispersa S. Watsonb Acrolasia dispersa (S. Watson) Davidson Mentzelia dispersa S. Watson M. dispersa S. Wats.
Harrington, H. D. 1954. Manual of the plants of Colorado. Denver, CO.: Sage Books., 1954. Snow, Neil. 2009. Checklist of Vascular Plants of the Southern Rocky Mountain Region (Version 3). 316 p. Weber, William A., and Ronald C. Wittmann. 2012. Colorado Flora: Eastern Slope. 4th Edition. Boulder, Colorado: University Press of Colorado, 2012. Ackerfield, Jennifer. 2012. The Flora of Colorado. ( of-colorado, accessed 11 Sep 2014.) Source: Southwest Environmental Information Network, SEINet. 2014. http// Accessed on September 04, 2014.


  1. bMentzelia dispersa S. Watson. Snow (2009) follows Dorn (2001) in not recognizing varieties in our region.
  2. aMentzelia montana (Davidson) Davidson is represented by two collections made by George E. Osterhout with Ira W. Clokey, Osterhout's #3095 (RM95508) and #5741 (RM162001). The collections were made 22 June 1918 and the locality is Morrison, Jefferson County, Colorado.


Literature Cited:
- Bell, Charles D., 2010.  

Authors for Symphoricarpos in FNANM are: Applequist, Wendy L./wendy.applequist at and Bell, Charles D./valerianaceae1969 at Caprifoliaceae will be contained in Volume 18, which, as of this date, 3 August 2014, is under production.

Literature Cited:
- Bell, Charles D., 2010.  

“Towards a Species Level Phylogeny of Symphoricarpos (Caprifoliaceae), Based on Nuclear and Chloroplast DNA”

Types from the Golden Area


Namesakes of the Golden Area


Source Data, General Information, and Mysteries Regarding Other Non-Types or Non-Namesakes


Populus angustifolia E. James

James provided a validating diagnosis: "The long leaved cotton-wood … is found intermixed with the common cotton-wood, resembling in size and general aspect. Its leaves are long and narrow, its trunk smoother, and its branches more slender and flexile than those of Populus anuglata. Some of its fruits was fortunately still remaining …"


Eriogonum umbellatum Torr.

Literature Cited:
- Torrey, John G., 1827.  

Published in 1827 by John Torrey.

Lupinus argenteus Pursh

  Harrington (1954) and Ackerfield (2015) neither use keel decoration as a key character nor do they describe the decoration of the keel. California floras, e.g., Munz (1965) and Baldwin (2012), use a ciliate keel, as a key character to identify L. argenteus. Welch, et al. (1993) note that the keel can be glabrous or variously ciliate.

Scutellaria brittonii Porter

  Isotype: NY415671, T. C. Porter, s.n., Colorado, Clear Creek Canyon, 9000 ft, June 15, 1873. The 9000 ft elevation in Clear Creek Canyon is just below Silver Plume.

Other articles: Field Notes Coll. No. 1143, 15 Jun 2015 Coll. No. 1379, 29 May 2016 Coll. No. 1614, 15 May 2017 Coll. No. 1865, 23 May 2018  

Castilleja integra Gray

In 1849, he joined an army expedition (with Gray's help) through Texas, botanising from Galveston to San Antonio and then on to El Paso. But he had to walk most of the 673 miles, (which took over 104 days effort). He collected seeds of Penstemon baccharifolius (Hook), between Texas and El Paso, which were later given to William Hooker. Also,Castilleja lanata (found near the Rio Grande) and Castilleja integra (found in the Organ Mountains, near El Paso). (Pennell, 1935) In the spring of 1851, he joined the United States and Mexican Boundary Survey (also with Gray's help). (Wikipedia)


Literature Cited:
- Gray, Asa, 1849.  

Castilleja integra is not listed in Gray (1849) Plantae Fendlerianae Novi-Mexicanae. Although, a good part of the report is "… to be continued."

Literature Cited:
- Gray, Asa, 1852.  

Gray (1952) does not mention any Wright collections in the Scrophulariaceae

Literature Cited:
- Torrey John, 1859.  

Emory, William H., 1859. Report on the United States and Mexican Boundary Survey. Volume II. Torrey, John, 1859. Part I. Botany of the Boundary Washington, 1859. p. 119



Castilleja integra (sp. nov.): perennis; caule stricto tomentoso; foliis linearibus integerrimis subtus tomentulosis, floralibus oblongis obocatisque integerrimis coloratis (paniceis);; spica conferta; calyce aequaliter vel postice profundius bifido, lobis bifidis lanceolatis obtusiusculis labium inferius galea multoties brevius adaequantibus. — Organ mountains, east of El Paso; Wright, (undistributed,) Bigelow. Guadaloupe caρon, Sonora; Capt. E. K. Smith. Also gathered in the Rocky Mountains further north by Dr. Kreuzfeldt, in Gunnison's expedition. Stem one or two feet high, mostly simple, rigid; leaves 1½ to 3 inches long, 2 to 3 lines wide, entire; most of the floral ones almost wholly petaloid, ample, shorted than the fully developed flowers. Calyx 8 or 12 lines long, red or reddish; “corolla reddish green;” glaea 6 to 8 lines long; the lower lip very short. Apparently a well marked new species of the section Callichroma. It is No. 584 of Fendler's New Mexican collection; and Dr. Bigelow gathered specimens in Whipple's expedition on the Llano Estacado.


  Pennell, Francis W. [Curator of Botany, Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia] The Scrophulariaceae of Eastern Temperate North America The Academy of Natural Sciences Monogtaphs, Number 1 Philadelphia, 1935. p. 533

9. Castilleja integra Gray

Castilleja integra A. Gray, in Torrey, Bot. Mex. Bound. 119. 1859. “Organ mountains, east of El Paso; Wright ..., Bigelow. Guadaloupe canon, Conora; Capt. E. K. Smith."

Bracts red. Flowering from May to August.

Gravelly soil, plains and hills, Colorado to Texas, Chihuahua and Arizona. Known in our territory from a single reocrd along the Rio grande.

Texas. Valverde: bluffs of Devils R., Havard (U).


Balsamorhiza sagittata

Other articles: Tin Cup Ridge (social trail) at Coll. 1109 Field Notes Coll. No. 1109, 14 May 2015
Full Size ImageColl. No. 1109, Balsamorhiza sagittata  

How the heck did it get to Tin Cup Ridge?

Other articles: Ericameria nauseosa var. graveolens Introduction  

Ericameria nauseosa (Pall. Ex Pursh) G.L.Nesom & G.I.Baird var. graveolens (Nutt.) Reveal & Schuyler

  • How did we get to the name of Ericameria nauseosa var. graveolens?
    • What is the history of the genus name Chrysothamnus?
    • What is the history of the name Ericameria nauseosa?
    • What is the history of the name ____ graveolens? And how did it become a variety of Ericameria nauseosa?

See my page about Ericameria nauseosa var. graveolens or “How did rubber rabbitbrush get that long scientific name?”

Other articles: Water Tank Road above the curve  

Ratibida columnifera

Other articles: Field Notes Coll. No. 1198, 12 Jul 2015
Full Size ImageColl. No. 1198, Ratibida columnifera  

So, is the cypsela ciliate on the abaxial side, or the adaxial side?

Symphyotrichum porteri (A. Gray) G. L. Nesom

Literature Cited:
- Porter, Thomas C., and John M. Coulter, 1874.  

Publication of Aster ericoides L. var strictus Porter in Porter and Coulter (1874).
Aster ericoides, L., var strictus, Porter. Low ¾ °-1° high, glabrous, except the scabrous margins and ciliate bases of the leaves, erect, slender, paniculately branched above, branches short; scales of involucre narrowly linear, lax, outer ones very acute, often entirely green, inner ones scarious with a central green line; radical leaves narrowly oblanceolate. -- “In the mountains at middle elevations,” Hall & Harbour, 254. Near Denver, Coulter. Foot-hills west of Denver, Porter; Meehan; Hoopes.

Literature Cited:
- Gray, Asa, 1880.  

basionym:Asteraceae Aster porteri A.Gray Proc. Amer. Acad. Arts xvi. (1880) 99.

Among the true Asters are several forms which have to be named, such as A. Porteri for A. ericoides, var. strictus, Porter & Coult. Fl. Colorado. 56, and A. pringlei, from the northern end of Lake Champlain …











Vegetation Descriptions






Dates To Do Things


Vouchers to Examine



Letters: Wednesday, November 5, 2014.  

UTC10764: was determined Polemonium caeruleum whereas UTC19762, also bearing MEJ's #299 is determined Polemonium foliosissimum A. Gray. However, per Mary Barkworth, 11/25/2014, both are P. foliosissimum.



Mystery Locations


Locations: Gray Hill.  

Gray Hill

Harbouria trachypleura (A. Gray) J.M. Coult. & Rose. Whiskbroom Parsley. Mountain slope. Near Golden: Gray Hill. J. H. Ehlers 6848. 6/2/1938 ( RM184550 )


West Cliff

Quincula lobata (Torr.) Raf. (Syn: Physalis lobata Torr. ) Chinese Lantern. Golden, Road to West Cliff, Golden. Earl L. Johnston, with G. G. Hedgcock 813. 6/23/1917 ( RM101941 ).

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Date and time this article was prepared: 8/16/2019 12:41:46 PM