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

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.





  Do you just want to see the checklist? Click: Plant Check List for Golden, Jefferson County, United States.
  It is probably fair to ask why one would prepare a local flora.

There are many sources of information about plant names, their descriptions, and how to identify them. There are numerous published floras for the whole state of Colorado, Colorado east slope and west slope, and the Intermountain Region, not to mention the less-scholarly wildflower books. The various data bases will permit preparation of plant lists for a location, or a range of geographic coordinates, will also giving link to further web sites such as Flora of North America (FNANM) an Encyclopedia of Life. These are all excellent resources. I used them all myself in the preparation of this flora. Data base lists selected by geographic coordinates, and those selected by named localities, were used to provide an initial list of collections. The published floras of larger regions were used to check on names, descriptions, and distribution.

However, the editing process of reviewing collections, and reviewing the absence of collections, provides the benefits that come from preparing a local flora:

  1. Apply local knowledge of geography to collections, their name determinations, and georeferencing. Living in a location can give a better understanding of local geography, and the location of historic reference points. This makes it easier to compare georeferencing to described collecting location.

  2. Identify questionable collections or determinations. Some examples might be:

    1. A collection dated 1822 from Golden, although Golden was not named until 1859. This turned out to be an E. L. Greene collection from 1872.
    2. A collection to which two different names have been applied. For example, E. H. Brunquist's PM-123 is determined as Cirsium undulatum (Nutt.) Spreng at KHD, and C. ochrocentrum A. Gray at CS. The thing to do is to look at both vouchers and determine which name should be applied, or whether the collection was really a mixed collection.
    3. A little more subtle case occurs when there are many single collections a related taxa. For example, among Oenothera and Gaura (which is sometimes placed in Oenothera), there are nine taxa for which there is only one collection in Golden and vicinity, and the remaining four taxa collected here have only two collections each. It seems unusual that there would be so many single collections of a taxon, and perhaps some of them are misidentified.

  3. Identify gaps in collections. Why hasn't an expected common species found in a certain area?

    For example, I found what I thought was Brickellia californica on North Table Mountain. Yet my data base searches yielded no records of collections. Searching again for all collections of B. californica in Jefferson and surrounding counties showed a single collection of the taxon by Loraine Yeatts on South Table Mountain. However, the collection had been georeferenced incorrectly and would not have appeared in a simple data base query. I have added that collection (and taxon name) to the local flora, and sent a comment to the herbarium about the incorrect coordinates.

  4. Fill in gaps in collections, collect in under-collected areas, or of under-collected plants.

    For example, mapping the locations of collections that can be georeferenced showed that there are few collections from the lower slopes of Lookout Mountain and no collections from the small northern portion of Dakota Ridge near the Rooney Road Sports Complex. These areas may now be targeted for collecting.

  5. Identify plants that may have been extirpated, or may be new arrivals.

    An example might be my collection 1109 of Balsamorhiza sagittata on Tin Cup Ridge. Usually this plant is described as being on the west slope only. How did it get here to the east slope? Generally, it is suggested that it was planted. But, was it intentionally planted in an out of the way place? Or planted by a bird? Or other animal?

  6. Understand the history of botanic or floristic work in a local area. Who collected? Why?

Literature Cited:
- Ackerfield, Jennifer, 2015.
- Baldwin, Bruce G., Douglas H. Goldman, David J. Keil, Robert Patterson, and Thomas J. Rosatti, 2012.
- Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds., 1993+.
- Harrington, H. D., 1954.
- The Plant List, 2013.
- USDA, NRCS, 2014.
- Weber, William A., and Ronald C. Wittmann, 2012.  

Generally, I try to follow nomenclature of the Flora of North America (1993+). When a plant name is found in a published volume of FNANM, I will use it.

In the case of unpublished volumes of FNANM, I generally review multiple sources, starting with Ackerfield (2015), the Plant List (, USDA Plants, the Jepson Manual, Weber and Wittmann (2012), and Harrington (1954), and then pick a modern name in common usage. As additional volumes of FNANM are published, some of the names may have to change.

Once a name is selected, different names given in Ackerfield (2015), Weber and Wittmann (2012), or Harrington (1954), are listed as synonyms.








Golden City Limits


Other articles: Illinois Street at Golf Club Kinney Run Trail w. of 6th Salvia Street Tony Grampsas Memorial Sports Complex

Locations: Eagle Ridge. Fossil Trace Golf Club. Golden. Tony Grampsas Memorial Sports Complex.
Full Size ImageCity Limits of Golden, Jefferson County, Colorado  

The boundaries of incorporated Golden are quite irregular. They stretch from I-70 on the south to north of Golden Gate Canyon on the north. The western boundary includes significant portions of the slopes of Lookout Mountain, but do not extend to a ridge line or natural boundary for the purposes of this flora. On the east side, the Coors Technology Center comprises a large isolated incorporated area north of 44th and west of MacIntyre. This results in incorporated Golden on the east and west sides of North Table Mountain, but the mountain itself is not part of the City of Golden. Only a small part of South Table Mountain is within the City of Golden. Pleasant Valley is unincorporated Jeferson County, but there are irregular sections, including a business park south of 6th and east of Indiana.

Within the City of Golden, there are a few parcels that are city-owned, and large enough to be collected. The Fossil Trace Golf Course occupies 216 ac. (87 ha.). It is not really a hotbed of biodiversity, but the elk like to hang out there in the winter. City-owned open space on the west and south slopes of North Table Mountain comprises 135 ac. (54 ha.). Eagle Ridge is the third largest parcel at 79 ac. (32 ha.) and the Grampsas Sport Complex contains 58 ac. (24 ha.). There is a small hilly parcel near the top of Washington Avenue of 4 ac. (1.6 ha.). This last parcel is perhaps the most interesting as it contains a relatively intact small (1.5 ac.) remnant mixed-grass prairie on the top of the hill.



Golden sensu latu (s.l.)


Locations: Golden.
Full Size ImageWorking definition of “Golden,” Colorado, and Vicinity  

In describing “Golden” in the broad sense, I have attempted to smooth the boundaries of the incorporated City of Golden, look for natural boundaries, and avoid development encroaching on open space, e.g., north slope of North Table Mountain.

Other articles: Pine Ridge Road at city limit  

From the northwest corner of Golden on Pine Ridge Road, the boundary curves across the undeveloped slopes of North Table Mountain to the business park at 44th and McIntyre.

Other articles: McIntyre Street at Table Mtn Pkwy  

The eastern boundary is along McIntyre Street, jogging west to avoid the Rolling Hills Country Club and former Camp George West. There is an easward extension to include the little piece of Golden at 6th and Indiana.

Other articles: Interstate 70 Golden

Locations: Apex Park. Tin Cup Ridge.  

The south boundary is the lower northwest slopes of Green Mountain, i.e., Green Mountain is excluded, I then follow Interstate 70, and a ridge line separating the incorporated area of Golden from Mount Vernon Canyon. Both Tin Cup Ridge and Apex Open Space Park are therefore included within Golden s.l.

Locations: Lookout Mountain. Mount Zion.  

The western boundary begins where the ridge line intersects the western edge of the Morrison quadrangle, and the boundary of Golden s.l. is the easternmost of either the quadrangle boundary or the ridge line of Lookout Mountain and Mount Zion. From Mount Zion back to Pine Ridge Road, I basically draw a straight line along the various western extents of the irregular Golden city limits.
  The definition of Golden s. l. includes much of the southwest corner of the Golden quadrangle and the northwest corner of the Morrison quadrangle. The Evergreen and Ralston Buttes quadrangles do not include any portion of Golden s. l. as I have defined it.



North Table Mountain


Other articles: County Road 284 near Poppy

Locations: North Table Mountain. Ralston Dike.
Full Size ImageNorth Table Mountain to the southwest.  

North and South Table Mountain separate Golden from the metropolitan Denver area to the east. They would be a single mountain except for the canyon that Clear Creek has cut between them. Both mesas are formed of Denver Formation capped by two or three basalt flows. The basalt erupted from what we now call the Ralston dike. This dike can be seen in a quarry west of Colorado Highway 93, about 3 miles north of North Table Mountain. The Denver Formation is composed of sedimentary rocks with clasts of volcanic rocks. The Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary is thought to be in the lower part of the Denver Formation.
  Nearly all North Table Mountain is in public ownership. The largest part, about 1,873 acres, is owned by Jefferson County, and managed by Jefferson County Open Space as North Table Mountain Park. This park is very popular and heavily used all year around. A smaller portion, about 135 acres on the southwest slopes, is owned by the City of Golden. The radio tower is on a 1-acre privately-owned parcel.
  There are six developed trailheads permitting access to North Table Mountain, and several undeveloped, or social, trailheads.

Other articles: Golden Cliffs Trail at trailhead North Table Loop at N Table Mtn Trlhd CO Hwy 93 at N Table Mtn TH Field Notes 8 Oct 2014

Locations: North Table Mountain.
Full Size ImageNorth Table Mountain Trailhead  

Full Size Image
Golden Cliffs Trailhead
Two of the trailheads are equipped with restrooms. The most popular trailhead is on the west side, just off Colorado Highway 93. It has restrooms, water, and a large parking lot. The other developed trailhead is primarily used by climbers. Accessed from Peery Parkway in Golden, it also has restrooms.

Other articles: County Road 284 at Mesa Spur TH Easley Road near sports complex Field Notes 8 Nov 2015 22 Jul 2016

Locations: North Table Mountain Park.
Full Size ImageTrail access on Ridge Road.  

Full Size Image
Trailhead of Mesa Spur Trail.
Three other trailheads developed by Jefferson County Open Space are on W. 58th Avenue, Easley Road, and Ridge Road.

Other articles: 53rd Drive at bicycle trail Field Notes 13 Aug 2014

Locations: North Table Mountain Park.
Full Size ImageNorth Table Mountain trail at W. 53rd Drive  

There is an access point on W. 53rd Drive, but no parking nearby.

Other articles: Field Notes 20 Jul 2015  

There may be a trailhead from the Table Rock subdivision. In fact, maps of North Table Mountain Park, show this as an Access Point. The problem is: getting back into the subdivision from the park requires passing a "No Trespassing" sign.

Other articles: Peery Drive at trail North Table Mountain Trail at Peery Field Notes 18 Feb 2016
Full Size ImagePeery Drive trailhead of North Table Mountain Trail.  

The City of Golden has a trailhead into their lands on North Table Mountain on Peery Drive. This trailhead gives access to the City of Golden North Table Mountain trail.

Other articles: Easley Road at social trail Social Trail at N Table Loop
Full Size ImageSocial trail from Tablerock subdivision into North Table Mountain Park.  

As far as social trails, there are two main trails. One is off Dunraven Circle in Table Rock. The other is at Easley Road and Colorado Highway 58.
The Dunraven Circle social trail is quite handy. Short, only 160 meters in length, it gives easy access to the North Table Loop, and then there is only another 245 meters to the Mesa Top Trail. It is, of course, signed “No Trespassing.” In theory, there is an access point to the Tablerock Trail from Tablerock Subdivision about 430 m. to the northeast. This access point can accessed from wither Dunraven Circle or Devil's Head Circle, by way of a concrete multiuse trail. Unfortunately, that trail is also signed “No Trespassing.”

Other articles: Social Trail at Easley
Full Size ImageStart of social trail at Easley Road.  

The Easley Road social trail begins near the Easley Road on-ramp to Colorado Highway 58 West. It is a little obscure to find. The trail climbs steeply to the fourth terrace in the road cut above Highway 58. The trail follows the terrace to its end, and then begins to climb a small canyon of North Table Mountain, following the route of an old road. This road is shown on the 1939 edition of the USGS Golden, Colo. 7.5" quadrangle map. The distance to the North Table Loop is about a half mile.

Literature Cited:
- White, Sally, and Loraine Yeatts, 1994.  

There have been several Colorado Native Plant Society (CoNPS) field trips on North Table Mountain. Two that are listed on the society's web site are: May 14, 1994, led by Sally White and Loraine Yeatts, and May 23, 1998, led by Paul Kilburn and Jerry Duncan. There is a plant list available from the White and Yeatts field trip.

The author led Colorado Native Plant Society field trips to North Table Mountain in 2016 and 2017. The plant lists from those field trips are kept constantly up to date by this web site. See Plant Check List for North Table Mountain, Jefferson County, United States.



South Table Mountain


Locations: South Table Mountain.  

Seen from a distance, it is clear the upper surface South Table Mountain is a continuation of the upper surface of North Table Mountain.
  Ownership of South Table Mountain is more mixed than North Table Mountain. The three largest owners are Jefferson County (738 Ac.), State of Colorado (500 ac.), and Bear Creek Development (312 ac.). The City of Golden owns a small 31-acre parcel where the Lubahn Trail is found.

Other articles: Ridge Road near N Easley Wy
Full Size ImageMap of South Table Mountain  

There are three developed trailheads with parking, two access points without parking, and three more informal, or social, access points.

Other articles: Lubahn Trail at trailhead Golden Hills Road at trl hd Kilmer Street 10000

Locations: South Table Mountain.
Full Size ImageGolden Hills Trailhead  

Full Size Image
Castle Rock from Lubahn Trail trailhead
Trailheads with parking, often just street parking are at:
  • Lubahn Trail, Belvedere at 18th, Belvedere at 19th.
  • Fossil Trail, on Golden Hills Road.
  • Camp George West Park.
  Neighborhood access without parking is at:
  • West Denver West Parkway.
  • Old Quarry Road.

Other articles: Lookout View Court 32460 Rimrock Drive on Rimrock Dr  

  • Lookout View Drive.
  • Rimrock Drive.
  • Quaker Street.



Other articles: Field Notes Wednesday, October 15th  

Lookout Mountain


Other articles: Lubahn Trail above rim

Locations: Apex Park. Lookout Mountain. Matthews/Winters Park. Windy Saddle Park.
Full Size ImageLookout Mountain  

Lookout Mountain is the very eastern edge of the Rocky Mountain Front Range. The Front Range runs north-south between Casper, Wyoming and Pueblo, Colorado and rises nearly 10,000 feet above the Great Plains. Longs Peak, Mount Evans, and Pikes Peak are its most prominent peaks, visible from the Interstate 25 corridor. The highest mountain peak in the Front Range is Grays Peak. Other notable mountains include Torreys Peak and Mount Bierstadt.

Only the eastern-facing slopes of Lookout Mountain are covered by this checklist flora.

Land ownership (1,221 ac.) is primarily Jefferson County Open Space for Windy Saddle Park, Apex Open Space Park, Lookout Mountain Nature Center, and small portion of Matthews/Winters Park. Denver Parks owns a large parcel (69 ac.) on top of Lookout Mountain. Martin Marietta is the largest private landowner for their quarry, followed by the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart (Mother Cabrini Shrine).



Other articles: Field Notes Wednesday, July 6th

Locations: Colorado School of Mines Survey Field.
Full Size ImageSouth end of Survey Field, south Golden, and South Table Mountain.  

Colorado School of Mines Survey Field

The next largest single parcel is the Colorado School of Mines Survey Field. It consists of 2 parcels totaling about 226 acres. At the upper, west side, it abuts Lookout Mountain.



Other articles: Kinney Run Trail at rock knob Field Notes 16 May 2018
Full Size ImageView generally north of Kinney Run.  

Kinney Run / Deadman Gulch

The City of Golden-owned parcels in the vicinity of Eagle Ridge (a small hogback), Deadman Gulch, Kinney Run, and Heritage Dells comprise about 90 acres. There are also some city-owned watercourses near the south-west end of those shown on this map.

Literature Cited:
- U.S. Board on Geographic Names, n.d..

Other articles: Kinney Run Trail at Deadman Gl

Locations: Deadman Gulch. Eagle Ridge. Heritage Dells. Kinney Run.  

Of the four names applied to this area, only two: Deadman Gulch and Heritage Dells, are recognized by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN, n.d.). The source for “Kinney Run” is unknown, but is probably a euphemism used by developers for Deadman Gulch. Similarly, the source for “Eagle Ridge” is also unknown, but was probably chosen by real estate developers in the area.
Full Size Image
City of Golden-owned Parcels in the vicinity of Kinney Run

Locations: Deadman Gulch. Eagle Ridge.  

The largest parcels are in the north between Tripp Ranch and US Highway 6. The northernmost parcel sits between the Survey Field and US Highway 6, spanning Deadman Gulch, and including a small hogback that may be the source of the name “Eagle Ridge.” Collecting in this area has been an extension of collecting in the Survey Field. There are no collections from the ridge itself, although the southern end of the ridge is getting close to the Handsford T. Shacklette collections. These were made near the intersection of US Highway 6 and Heritage Road (June 27, 1959. 25 vouchers, COLO, and 1 voucher, MICH).

Other articles: Kinney Run Trail at sm. hill at coll locn Field Notes Coll. No. 1780, 12 Apr 2018 Coll. No. 1783, 12 Apr 2018

Locations: Cambria Lime Kiln. Kinney Run.
Full Size ImageCambria Lime Kiln  

South and west of Eagle Ridge is the heart of Deadman Gulch/Kinney Run. A little over 31 acres, this parcel is oriented north-south, and fairly narrow from east to west.
Full Size Image
Kinney Run in early Spring.
Full Size Image
View of Kinney Run in early Spring.
The northernmost portion has been revegetated. The Cambria Lime Kiln is found in this parcel. There is road frontage in two places on Eagle Ridge Drive, and one place on Crawford Street. The Kinney Run Trail, a concrete multi-use trail bisects the parcel from north to south.

Literature Cited:
- Steadman, Christy, 2019.

Locations: Kinney Run.

Letters: Thursday, August 9, 2018.  

Golden GiddyUp (2017-2018) proposed to build a system of dirt bicycle trails in the Kinney Run/Heritage Dells area, including one through this parcel. The trail was proposed to be some distance away from the existing Kinney Run trail. It would therefore further fragment this small area into three pieces from its current two pieces. This proposal was strongly opposed by the Friends of Kinney Run, and by the author. This proposal has been withdrawn, for now, in favor of a bicycle trail linking Beverly Heights to Kinney Run, by way of the Survey Field. The Friends of Kinney Run has since become inactive pending a possible reorganization.
  Between Tripp Ranch and Heritage Dells Park lies a small parcel of 7.8 acres. This parcel goes from the riparian zone of Kinney Run east to the back fences of the houses that face Somerset Street.

Other articles: Kinney Run Trail near intersection Field Notes Sunday, August 8th
Full Size ImageThe southern part of proposed mountain bike trail, Segment 4.  

At the south end of this parcel, there was formerly a social trail from the end of W. 4th Avenue down to the Kinney Run Trail. Presumably this trail was used by children enroute to Shelton School. The trail is faintly visible on GoogleEarth imagery from 1999, before the concrete trail was constructed to the south. The social trail has since been revegetated (2015 to 2017).
  Heritage Dells Park is accessible from Crawford Street. In 1987, this foothills park was built to serve the Heritage Dells Subdivision. Currently, it is located at the midpoint of the Kinney Run Trail, and makes for a great resting place along this regional trail that begins at Heritage Square. The terrain is hilly and it’s a “good push” to get a loaded baby stroller back to the car from the A.D.A. accessible playground. A basketball court is also available at the park, perfect for neighborhood pick-up games and practice. Includes a cherry stem southward to Kimball Avenue.

Locations: Heritage Dells.  

The location of GNIS Heritage Dells. Roughly at the corner of Kimball Avenue and Crawford Circle.
  The Kinney Run trail continues south through a narrow corridor to Apex Park (Jefferson County Open Space) and its many trails. It passes by the Magic Mountain archeological site.

Literature Cited:
- Brunquist, E. H., 1966.

Locations: Magic Mountain.  

Magic Mountain archeological site: Named for a nearby amusement park now known as Heritage Square, the Magic Mountain Archaeological Site south of Golden was excavated in 1959–60 by Cynthia and Henry Irwin. Because it was one of the first foothills sites to be professionally excavated, the Irwins’ report on Magic Mountain has provided the foundation for all later archaeological research in the region. In the 1990s new excavations discovered thousands of artifacts and bone fragments as well as several architectural features, which have helped provide more precise dates and cultural affiliations for the site. Vegetation in the vicinity of the Magic Mountain archeological site was surveyed by Ernest H. Brunquist (1966).



Locations: Tony Grampsas Memorial Sports Complex.  

Tony Grampsas Memorial Sports Complex

The Tony Grampsas Memorial Sports Complex comprises 58 acres, almost entirely developed.



Other articles: Chimney Gulch Trail at pkg U. S. Highway 6 at pkg

Locations: Landing Zone.  

CSM Paraglider Landing Area

The hang glider landing field is 45 acres, property owned by Colorado School of Mines, a lot of it disturbed by use. To the south of the landing field is a small City of Golden parcel of about 14 acres.



Locations: Cressmans Gulch (lower).  

Cressman Gulch

Cressman Gulch and the hogback above it measure out to 39 acres. The lion's share of this area is contributed by the south end of the hogback. There are open mines on the hogback, which are fenced, and not open to access by the public.



Locations: Tucker Gulch (lower).  

Tucker Gulch

Much of the lower part of Tucker Gulch is still railroad right-of-way, but the portion owned by the City of Golden is 34 acres.



Other articles: Social Trail (Up. Wash. Ave. OS) at top Field Notes 25 Mar 2017

Locations: Upper Washington Avenue Open Space.
Full Size ImageView west to North Table Mountain.  

Upper Washington Avenue Open Space

The little piece of City of Golden open space at the north end of Washington Avenue, near Cannonball Creek Brewery, measures 4 acres.

I keep a separate report about this open space, which can be on my home page with a title of “Botanical Resources of the Upper Washington Avenue Open Space, Golden, Colorado.”



Nearby Areas Excluded

  Any developed areas on the north slope of North Table Mountain are excluded.
  The boundary was drawn to swing west of the Rolling Hills Country Club.
  The former Camp George West is excluded in its entirety.

Literature Cited:
- Yeatts, Dick, and Loraine Yeatts, 2009.

Locations: Green Mountain.  

Nearly all of Green Mountain is excluded, except for the lowest northwest slopes.

There are a few lists available for Green Mountain. The most recent is Yeatts & Yeatts (2009).




My broad definition of Golden is included on two USGS 7.5" topographic maps: Golden and Morrison.

Literature Cited:
- Van Horn, Richard, 1957.
- Van Horn, Richard, 1972.
- Van Horn, Richard, 1976.

Locations: Golden.  

Geology of the Golden quadrangle is by Van Horn (1972, 1976).

Literature Cited:
- Scott, G. R., 1972.

Locations: Golden.  

Geology of the Morrison quadrangle is by Scott (1972).

Literature Cited:
- Weimer, Bob, 2001.

Locations: Golden.
Full Size ImageSimplified geologic cross section through Golden and vicinity  

Simplified geologic cross section of Golden and vicinity.
ls landslide
Pf Fountain Formation Pink to reddish-orange arkosic sandstone and comglomerate, and dark-reddish-brown mudstone.
Lava flows. Latite, dark gray, weathers light brown to light gray. Contains plagioclase, potassium feldspar, augite, olivene, and some biotite, magnetitem and apatite.
Tdv, Kdv Denver Formation. Light-gray to brown, lenticular, loosely cemented, tuffaceous sandstone, silty claystone, and andesitic conglomerate. System boundary based on paleontologic evidence.
Ka Arapahoe Formation. Light-gray to brown, quartzose sandstone and silty claystone; thick conglomerate locally at base.
Kl Laramie Formation. Light- to medium-gray quartzose sandstone and claystone, and several lenticular sub-bituminous coal beds in the lower 200 feet.
Kp Pierre Shale. Predominantly medium-gray clayey shale and some calcareous concretions, interbedded with some siltstone and silty sandstone.
peg Granitic pegmatite Dikelike, lenticular, and irregularly shaped bodies composed principally of quartz and microcline.
pC Precambrian gneiss and schist. Gray medium-grained gneiss consisting of quartz, plagioclase, and biotite.





Literature Cited:
- Price, Alan B., and Alan E. Amen, 2008 rev..  

Soils in the Golden area wer enumerated in Price and Amen (2001, 2008 rev.). Seventy-nine different soil types are recognized in Golden sensu latu




History of Botanic Exploration


The Long Expedition to the Rocky Mountains 1819-1820

Literature Cited:
- Goodman, George J., and Cheryl A. Lawson, 1995.  

Major Stephen H. Long, an army engineer, promoted scientific exploration in the west to President James Monroe and Secretary of War John Calhoun. In 1818, he received authorization to form a scientific group and undertake an expedition. His scientific staff included Edwin James, M.D., a twenty-three year old Vermonter, as botanist. The expedition set out on June 6, 1820, from Engineer Cantonment on the Missouri River, about 5 miles below Council Bluffs.

Literature Cited:
- James, Edwin, ed., 1823.

Other articles: Account of the Expedition, Volume 2 5 Jul 2017

Locations: Inspiration Point.  

The expedition arrived in the Denver area on July 5th, camping on the South Platte River opposite Cannon Ball Creek (now Clear Creek). In the afternoon, James and three others set out for the base of the Rocky Mountains, thinking they were just a few miles away. Eight miles later, they reached the location of present day Inspiration Point and, discouraged that the mountains looked no closer, they turned back to camp. Along the way the party noted a few plants, but did not collect.

Other articles: Sheridan Blvd at Inspiration Pt Pk  

At some location on the 5th, james did make two collections. One collection was identified by Torrey as Sium latifolium L. Roem. and Schult. vi. p. 331. Tor. fl. i. p. 311. Base of the Rocky Mountains. is listed in Goodman and Lawson (1995) as Sium suave Walter Water Parsnip. Ackerfield (2015) says this taxon does not occur in Jefferson County, and SEINet supports this contention, save for one 1977 collection at a Main Reservoir near Mississipi and Kipling in Lakewood.

Torrey lists Stipa barbata Michx. fl. i. p. 53. as being found on the sources of the Platte and Canadian. He then goes on to observe "… grows with Cenchrus echinatus, and like that plant is very troublesome ; the bearded awns adhering to and penetrating the dress." Goodman and Lawson (1995, p. 210) state that both Stipa barbata and S. juncea, as used by James, are synonyms for Hesperostipa comata (Trin. & Rupr.) Barkworth.

Locations: Platte Canyon. Roxborough Park. Sheep Mountain.  

On July 6th, they moved to the mouth of Platte Canyon, and explored in the Roxborough Park area. The next day James and several others struggled up the north bank of the South Platte, reaching the southeast slopes of Sheep Mountain.

The southeast slopes of Sheep Mountain are most likely locations for many of James' new species. In particular: Eriogonum umbellatum Torr. “Sulphur Flower,” Physocarpus monogynus (Torrey) Coulter “Mountain Ninebark,” and Acer glabrum Torrey “Rocky Mountain Maple” were most likely collected on Sheep Mountain. James' collection of Cercocarpus montanus Raf. “Alder Leaf Mountain Mahogany” was probably made at the mouth of Platte Canyon. There are several other collections that may have been made in this area, but the time or location may be unclear, or in the case of Rubus deliciousus the material actually collected is unclear.

Literature Cited:
- James, Edwin, ed., 1823.

Other articles: Account of the Expedition, Volume 2 preface  

In 1823, the “Account of an Expedition from Pittsburgh to the Rocky Mountains performed in the years 1819, 1820, by order of the Hon. J. C. Calhoun, under the command of Major Stephen H. Long,” in two volumes, and edited by Edwin James was published. The botany of the expedition is not covered in detail in these volumes. There are only a few references or notes to plants collected or seen along the way.

Literature Cited:
- Torrey, John, 1824a.  

John Torrey (1824a) “Description of some new or rare plants from the Rocky Mountains, collected in July, 1820, by Dr. E. James” describes some new plants from Pikes Peak slopes and summit. None of the plants were collected in Jefferson County, Colorado.

Literature Cited:
- Torrey, John, 1824b.  

John Torrey (1824b) “Description of some new grasses, collected by Dr. E. James, during the expedition of Major Long to the Rocky Mountains, in 1819-1820” contains no new grasses from Jefferson County, Colorado.

Literature Cited:
- James, Edwin, 1825.  

In 1825, James published a “Catalogue of Plants Collected During a Journey to and from the Rocky Mountains, During the Summer of 1820.” However, this account does not include any previously undescribed plants.

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

Finally, in 1827, Torrey's “Some account of a Collection of Plants made during a journey to and from the Rocky Mountains in the summer of 1820, by Edwin P. James, M. D. Assistant Surgeon U. S. Army.” some of the new taxa from Jefferson County. These collections were made on the southeast slopes of Sheep Mountain, above Waterton Canyon. Some of the new taxa were Acer glabrum Torr. “Rocky Mountain Maple,” Spiraea monogyna Torr. (=Physocarpus monogynus (Torr.) J. M. Coult.) “Mountain Nine-bark,” and Eriogonum umbellatum Torr. “Sulphur-flower Buckwheat” Torrey's caution got the best of him with his acceptance of Cercocarpus fothergilloides Kunth for what later became C. montanus Raf. While none of these plants were collected in Golden by the Long Expedition, there are all quite common here.

Literature Cited:
- Rafinesque, C. S., 1832.

Other articles: Atlantic Journal 107120  

Rafinesque was pretty unhappy with Torrey being " very cautious that he will not admit any improvement except after long delays and previous precedents …" which left him feeling "… compelled to rectify this omission by forming many new genera and species out of [Torrey's] plants, for my florula Oregonensis." Justifying his action by stating " …hesitation in science is often as injurous as haste. It is even better to have two names for an object than no name at all," Rafinesque published Cercocarpus montanus Raf. in “Twenty new genera of plants from the Oregon Mountains, &c.”

Literature Cited:
- Beaman, John H., 1957.
- Graustein, Jeannette E., 1967.

Locations: Mount Vernon Canyon.  

Two Townsendias are commonly collected in the Golden area: T. grandiflora and T. hookeri. Both were first collected in 1834 by Thomas Nuttall during his journey with the Wyeth expedition from St. Louis, Missouri, to Fort Vancouver, Oregon. Nuttall kept no journal during this trip, so his localities are always a bit of a mystery. Some location data can be derived from his published account and the label data on his specimens. “Plains of the Platte” is probably the most accurate location description for T. grandiflora, whereas "an alpine chain toward the sources of the Platte" is the most descriptive location for T. hookeri. Nuttall's determination of his collection was T. sericea Hook. T. sericea is an illegitimate name and a synonym of T. exscapa (Richardson) Porter.
Full Size Image
Coll. No. 1071, Townsendia, probably T. hookeri
Full Size Image
Coll. No. 1247, Townsendia grandiflora
Beaman (1957) proposed T. hookeri Beaman as a segregate from T. exscapa, using a collection by Clokey in Mt. Vernon Canyon as his type. Besides its generally smaller size, a distinguishing character of T. hookeri Beaman is its little tuft of twisted cilia at the apex of the phyllaries (Beaman, 1957, Graustein, 1967).


Literature Cited:
- Jercinovic, Eugene, n.d..
- Pursh, Frederick, 1814.  

The First Collection Made in Golden

The oldest collection from Golden with reliable data is E. L. Greene's collection of Oxytropis lambertii Pursh on May 1, 1870. Greene moved to Colorado in 1870. The location is given simply as “Golden.” This collection is at the Brown University Herbarium, on a voucher with a Hall & Harbour collection made in 1862. While O. lambertii was described by Pursh (1814), it is not a Lewis and Clark collection. Pursh described it from a collection by John Bradbury (1768-1823) on the Missouri River.

Literature Cited:
- Britton, Nathaniel Lord, 1900.  

There is another plant collection giving Golden as the location that carries an earlier date. It is a anonymous collection of Crataegus occidentalis Britton that gives "By streams near Golden" as the location. The collection date is reported as 1822 by NY, the holder of this voucher.
There is a problem with the collection date, though. Golden was not founded until 1859, when it was named for Thomas L. Golden, who arrived in then-Kansas Territory in 1858. The only collectors in the area near the 1822 date were the Major Stephen Long expedition of 1820. A collection from that expedition would have ended up in the Torrey Herbarium as this specimen did. There is a pencilled notation above "Rev. E. L. Greene" and perhaps that note would shed some light. It is also possible that the label was written and affixed many years after the collection was made. Examining the date hand-written on the label, it appears that it could 1872 rather than 1822. If the date were 1872 then the collector could have been C. C. Parry, E. L. Greene, or possibly someone else.

Britton's (1900) description of C. occidentalis states that the types were “… collected by Prof. E. L. Greene, near Golden, Colo., 1873, along streams, in flower; on river-bank near the Forks of Dismal River, Hooke Co., Nebr., collected by Dr. P. A. Rydberg, July 11, 1893, in fruit.” This seems pretty conclusive, that the collection in question, was likely collected in 1872(3) and that the collector was probably E. L. Greene.

Ackerfield (2015) treats Crataegus occidentalis Britton as a synonym of C. succulenta Schrad., whereas FNANM treats it as a synonym of C. macracantha Loddiges ex Loudon.


The Last 50 Years


Literature Cited:
- Brunquist, E. H., 1966.  

Ernest H. Brunquist (1888-1978) was curator of botany at the Denver Museim of Nature and Science from the late 1950s to the late 1970s.
Brunquist (1966) prepared a local checklist flora of the Heritage Square area as part of the report on Excavations at Magic Mountain (Irwin-Williams and Irwin, 1966).

Literature Cited:
- Varnell, Jeanne, 1972.

Locations: South Table Mountain.  

The Jefferson Sentinel in July, 1972 ran a long article about South Table Mountain describing its history and the need to save it as park land.

Literature Cited:
- Brown, Georgina, 1976.

Locations: South Table Mountain.  

Georgina Brown's Book, The Shining Mountains, describes a grisly murder that took place on South Table Mountain.

Literature Cited:
- Zeise, Larry Steven, 1976.

Locations: North Table Mountain.  

The Colorado Chapter of the Nature Conservancy funded an ecological survey of North Table Mountain by Larry S. Zeise (1976) under the supervision of John W. Marr of the University of Colorado, Boulder, CO.

Literature Cited:
- Kilburn, Paul D., and Sally L. White, 1992.

Other articles: North Table Mountain Title Page

Locations: North Table Mountain.  

Paul Kilburn and Sally White (1992) published a short volume on the history and natural features of North Table Mountain. With permission of the authors, I have republished their volume on this website.

Literature Cited:
- Pague, Christopher A., Renee Rondeau, and Mark Duff, 1993.

Locations: North Table Mountain.  

North Table Mountain was described in a report by the Colorado Natural Heritage Program as posessing a Biodiversity rank of B4 (Pague, et al., 1993).

Locations: North Table Mountain. South Table Mountain.
Full Size ImagePoster advertising presentation about South Table Mountain  

In 2001, a presentation by Dr. Robert Raynolds, Loraine Yeatts, and Dr. Kirk Johnson, was made at the American Mountaineering Center describing why the Table Mountains were important to preserve.

Literature Cited:
- Plantae Consulting Services, 2002.

Locations: South Table Mountain.  

Maureen O'Shea-Stone published a vegetation survey report of the portion of South Table Mountain owned by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (Plantae Consulting Services, 2002).

Literature Cited:
- Sovell, John, Pam Smith, Denise Culver, Susan Panjabi and Joe Stevens, 2012.

Locations: North Table Mountain.  

The Colorado Natural Heritage Program prepared a survey of critical biological resources for Jefferson County (Sovell, et al., 2012), in which North Table Mountain was upgraded to Biodiversity Rank B3.
  Understanding urban flora …

Literature Cited:
- Clemants, Steven E., and Gerry Moore, 2003.  





Useful Publications


Literature Cited:
- Harrington, H. D., 1954.  

Harrington's Manual of the Plants of Colorado (1954) is occasionally helpful because it has more extensive descriptions of the taxa. Also, Harrington wrote a natural key rather than the artificial key in Weber & Wittmann (2012) and Ackerfield (2015). One problem is, though, that the progress of science has made some of Harrington's groups obsolete or moved some taxa from one group to another.

Literature Cited:
- Shaw, Robert B., 2008.  

Shaw's (2008) Grasses of Colorado is where I start with grasses. I will then use Ackerfield (2015) or Weber & Wittmann (2012) to confirm a grass determination.

Literature Cited:
- Weber, William A., and Ronald C. Wittmann, 2012.  

Weber and Wittmann's Colorado Flora: Eastern Slope (2012, 4th edition) is a highly developed diagnostic manual. It suffers somewhat from an unconventional use of names. However, with a little use, the synonomy with other floras becomes fairly clear. I typically use Weber & Wittmann (2012) to confirm a determination. Sometimes, though, a plant will key out easily in this manual when it has failed in another.

Literature Cited:
- Ackerfield, Jennifer, 2015.  

Ackerfield's (2015) Flora of Colorado is, of course, the current best manual for Colorado. Its publication was a great step forward. Like when I used to write computer code, the first version was always serviceable, but each succeeding version was an enormous improvement, and we eagerly await the next edition of Flora of Colorado.

Literature Cited:
- Wingate, Janet L., 2017.  

I have successfully used Wingate's (2017) Sedges of Colorado. The book is really well-illustrated, in the keys, in the species descriptions, and in the supplemental information.
  Two general books that do not specifically address Colorado flora, but that I find really helpful are:

Literature Cited:
- Harrington, H. D. and L. W. Durrell, 1957.  

Harrington and Durrell (1957) is good introduction to identifying plants, and how to collect them. While the references to floras have become really dated, in the center of the book is a list of 25 questions to be answered when identifying plants. I found this idea, i.e., to examine the plant carefully before opening a flora key was very helpful.

Literature Cited:
- Harris, James G., and Melinda Woolf Harris, 2001.  

Harris and Harris (2nd ed., 2001) is a veritable treasure, providing the basis for consistency in describing plants in a very well illustrated and accessible form.





Data was collected in two ways: online herbarium record search and collecting plants in the field.



Herbarium Search

Online herbarium search was performed using SEINet (SEINet Portal Network, 2014-2019). Searches were made two ways, one using the locality name “Golden” and the other using geographic coordinates that include the boundary of Golden s.l.. The collection data was entered a Microsoft Access data base. 1125 collections were found in this way.




  Data was also collected by making plant collections and observations in the field. Scientific collecting permits were obtained from the City of Golden, Colorado School of Mines, and Jefferson County Open Space.
  Collections were made when the plants were in a condition that permitted making a good quality collection, such as one containing stem, leaves, flowers, and perhaps seed, and when in sufficient quality that never more than one-tenth of the extant plant material was collected. My data set contains 591 collections that I personally made. The author does not make a practice of seeking out or collecting rare plants.
  Observations were made when the amount of plant material was insufficient, or an easily recognizable plant was not in a condition to make a good quality collection, or if there were already collections of the taxon but at other parts of the parcels. My data set contains 563 observations.
  Observations and collections were recorded in a field notebook at the time made. Geographic location was obtained from a Garmin 76CSx GPS receiver, and downloaded using Minnesota Department of Natural Resources DNRGPS. Notebook and GPS data were stored in a Microsoft Access data base and exported to ArcGIS. Collections were transferred to standard botanical presses from a field press. When dry the collections identified, labelled, and distributed to herbaria.
  I plan to continue collecting around Golden s.l. for the foreseeable future. Therefore, this document will continue to change as time passes.








Collections Found


Full Size ImageLocations of georeferenced collections in Golden, before I started collecting.
Full Size ImageLocations of georeferenced collections in Golden, after 2016 collecting season
Full Size ImageLocations of georeferenced collections in Golden, after 2018 collecting season  
A map of known georeferenced plant collections made in or near Golden shown at left.

Full Size ImageNumber of Collections per Year in Golden s.l.  
There are about 1,600 collections that have been made in Golden and vicinity. Collecting events have been sporadic at best. This oldest known collection is of Crataegus succulenta made by an unknown collector in 1822. Marcus E. Jones is credited with a number of collections in 1878. A little caution is required for Jones' collections, though, as his localities were often loosely interpreted. Mrs. Ella Bailar made a blip in 1905. Then the collections by Ernest H. Brunquist in support of the Magic Mountain archleogical dig standout. Loraine Yeatts entry into the world of botany is a standout in 1983. Finally, my own work had increased the number of collections by more than 50% at the end of 2018.

Major Collectors in Golden and Vicinity

  Collections found by collector, as of December 31, 2018:
CollectorNumber of Collections
Tom Schweich574
Loraine Yeatts334
E. H. Brunquist121
Janet L. Wingate107
Anonymous or Unknown60
Hansford T. Schacklette52
J. H. Ehlers44
Stanley Smookler42
Mrs. Ella Bailar31
Marcus E. Jones30
Berta Anderson19
Ira W. Clokey18
William Huestis17
Jim Ratzloff16
Ellsworth Bethel15
Peter G. Root14
Will C. Ferril13
Mark Duff13
R. J. Rondeau11
Earl L. Johnston10
H. D. Harrington10

Loraine Yeatts


Janet L. Wingate


E. H. Brunquist

Ernest Herman Brunquist (1888 - 1978)
m. Esther Mercer, March 22, 1923
1972, botanist for Denver Museum of Natural History.

Literature Cited:
- Jones, Marcus E., n.d..  

Marcus E. Jones only visits to the Golden area were in 1878. He writes in his notes
... On the 17th. got 255 and others in the foothills near Golden and at Golden. On the 20th, got 268, 273 and others at Golden, and 226-238, 246, 256-267, 270-272, 274-275 in Clear Creek Canyon going toward Idaho Springs. … August 1st. got 528-532 at Idaho Springs, 522-523 at Golden. on the 2nd. 524-527 on the road to Denver. …



Collections Made




Checklist Flora



Taxa represented by single collections.



Taxa without infra-specific determinations.




Rare and Unusual Plants




Notable Native Plants




Literature Cited:
- Colorado Department of Agriculture, 2014-2019.

Other articles: Golden Checklist Flora Golden s.l. noxious grasses  

Noxious Weeds

The aim of the Noxious Weed program is to control noxious weeds, the non-native aggressive invaders that replace native vegetation, reduce agricultural productivity, cause wind and water erosion and pose an increased threat to communities from wildfire (Colorado Department of Agriculture, 2019).


List A

List A Species in Colorado that are designated by the [Colorado Department of Agriculture] Commissioner for eradication. The most common List A species in the Golden area is Euphorbia myrsinites L. (Syn: Tithymalus myrsinites (L.) Hill) Myrtle Spurge.

Other articles: Cheyenne Street near 5th Gregory Drive 30290 Kinney Run Trail at slope Field Notes Coll. No. 1779, 12 Apr 2018 20190310
Full Size ImageInfestation of Myrtle Spurge between Gregory Drive and Goldco Circle.
Full Size ImageMyrtle Spurge as a treasured landscaping element.  

Euphorbia myrsinites L. Myrtle Spurge

Euphorbia myrsinites L. Myrtle Spurge is ubiquitous in Golden s.l. Sprayed by either the City of Golden or Jefferson County Open Space where it is known to occur, it is often found in obscure or hidden places. It is also a common residential landscape plant. In the Upper Washington Avenue Open Space, previous mowing by the neighbors kept the plants small, but the species also spreads by small underground stems called rhizomes, thus allowing the plants to spread even if kept mowed.
Full Size Image
Habitat of Coll. No. 1779, Euphorbia myrsinites in Kinney Run.
On North Table Mountain, the plant is found at the tops and bottoms of the cliffs of the southwest side. I have found it hidden in off-trail locations in Kinney Run, and on Tin Cup Ridge. It is also found in Chimney Gulch and the Survey Field.

Lythrum salicaria L. Purple Loosetrife

Lythrum salicaria L. Purple Loosetrife. Along Clear Creek on Miller-Coors property. Status unknown.

Arundo donax L. Giant Reed

Arundo donax L. Giant Reed. In Colorado, this noxious grass is known from only one collections made near the Jefferson County Government Center. It is possible that it is undercollected, but if that were true, then one would expect at least a few other collections. In adjacent states, there are many collections from Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, with a fewcollections from Utah and Kansas.


List B

List B Species are species for which the Commissioner, in consultation with the state noxious weed advisory committee, local governments, and other interested parties, develops and implements state noxious weed management plans designed to stop the continued spread of these species. The following List B plants are found in Golden s.l.:

Saponaria officinalis L. Bouncingbet

Saponaria officinalis L. Bouncingbet. Several plants were found and removed along the social trail on the east side of the hill. Two collections, probably more widespread and undercollected, also seen as landscaping plant.

Clematis orientalis L. Oriental Virginsbower

Clematis orientalis L. Oriental Virginsbower. Three collections, waste places.
  “Although Clematis orientalis has been naturalized in the Rocky Mountains since the late nineteenth century, it has spread especially rapidly since ca. 1975, becoming weedy and, in some localities, constituting a threat to young trees and native shrubby and herbaceous species.” – James S. Pringle in FNANM.

Other articles: Kinney Run Trail at Coll. No. 1441 Field Notes Coll. No. 1441, 15 Jun 2016
Full Size ImageColl. No. 1441, Hesperis matronalis  

Hesperis matronalis L. Dame’s Rocket

Hesperis matronalis L. Dame’s Rocket. One collection, at the pond on Deadman Gulch just west of US Hwy 6, wiped out when dam was reconstructed. Watch!

Other articles: North Table Loop half-way Field Notes Coll. No. 1366, 24 May 2016 Coll. No. 1874, 23 May 2018
Full Size ImageHabitat of Coll. No. 1366, Lepidium draba
Full Size ImageColl. No. 1874, Lepidium draba  

Lepidium draba L. White Top

Lepidium draba L. White Top. Widespread, often found on slopes overrun by smooth brome.

Lepidium latifolium L. Broad-Leaved Pepper-Grass

Lepidium latifolium L. (Syn: Cardaria latifolia (L.) Spach ) Broad-Leaved Pepper-Grass. One collection, location unclear.

Other articles: Field Notes Coll. No. 1680, 28 Jun 2017
Full Size ImageColl. No. 1680, Potentilla recta  

Potentilla recta L. Sulphur Cinquefoil

Potentilla recta L. Sulphur Cinquefoil. One collection from South Table Mountain, probably under collected, e.g., very common at Ranson/Edwards.

Other articles: Field Notes Coll. No. 1657, 5 Jun 2017 Coll. No. 1795, 27 Apr 2018
Full Size ImageHabitat of Coll. No. 1795, Euphorbia esula
Full Size ImageColl. No. 1657, Euphorbia esula  

Euphorbia esula L. Leafy Spurge

Euphorbia esula L. Leafy Spurge. Common and widespread.

Other articles: Field Notes Coll. No. 1437, 15 Jun 2016 Coll. No. 1645, 30 May 2017
Full Size ImageColl. No. 1645, Elaeagnus angustifolia
Full Size ImageColl. No. 1437, Elaeagnus angustifolia  

Elaeagnus angustifolia L. Russian Olive

Elaeagnus angustifolia L. Russian Olive. Many young and mature trees, used as a landscape element in numerous locations, e.g., Altitude Apartments, and along Heritage Road.

Other articles: Field Notes Obs. No. 1552, 8 May 2017 Coll. No. 1827.1, 16 May 2018
Full Size ImageHabitat of Coll. No. 1827.1, Cynoglossum officinale.
Full Size ImageObs. No. 1552, Cynoglossum officinale  

Cynoglossum officinale L. Gypsyflower

Cynoglossum officinale L. Gypsyflower. Well established, often off the beaten path.
Full Size Image
Obs. No. 1552, Cynoglossum officinale

Other articles: Field Notes Coll. No. 1206, 12 Jul 2015
Full Size ImageColl. No. 1206, Verbascum blattaria
Full Size ImageColl. No. 1206, Verbascum blattaria  

Verbascum blattaria L. Moth Mullein

Verbascum blattaria L. Moth Mullein. One collection in CSM Survey Field with Common Mullein.

Other articles: North Table Mountain Trail Near water tank Field Notes Coll. No. 1393, 8 Jun 2016 Coll. No. 1641, 30 May 2017
Full Size ImageColl. No. 1393, Linaria dalmatica
Full Size ImageColl. No. 1641, Linaria dalmatica  

Linaria dalmatica (L.) Mill. Dalmatian ToadFlax

Linaria dalmatica (L.) Mill. (Syn: Linaria dalmatica (L.) Mill. ssp. dalmatica, Linaria genistifolia (L.) Mill. ssp. dalmatica (L.) Maire & Petitm.) Dalmatian ToadFlax. Ubiquitous, under collected.

Dipsacus fullonum L. Fuller's Teasel

Dipsacus fullonum L. Fuller's Teasel. Common and widespread, under collected.

Dipsacus laciniatus L. Cutleaf Teasel

Dipsacus laciniatus L. Cutleaf Teasel. Likely confused with the former and under collected.

Acroptilon repens (L.) DC. Russian Knapweed

Acroptilon repens (L.) DC. Russian Knapweed. Ranches on north side of Table Mountain, status unknown.

Other articles: Field Notes Coll. No. 1711, 14 Jul 2017
Full Size ImageColl. No. 1711, Carduus nutans  

Carduus nutans L. Nodding Plumeless Thistle

Carduus nutans L. (Syn: Carduus nutans L. ssp. macrolepis (Peterman) Kazmi) Nodding Plumeless Thistle. Widespread and common.

Other articles: “Tilting Mesa Cut-Off” near saddle Field Notes Coll. No. 1233, 20 Jul 2015
Full Size ImageColl. No. 1233, Centaurea diffusa
Full Size ImageColl. No. 1233, Centaurea diffusa  

Centaurea diffusa Lam. White Knapweed

Centaurea diffusa Lam. (Syn: Acosta diffusa (Lam.) Soja' k) White Knapweed. Widespread and common.

Literature Cited:
- Duncan, Celestine and Melissa Brown Munson, 2018.

Other articles: Survey Field Road 11000
Full Size ImageColl. No. 1200, Cirsium arvense  

Cirsium arvense (L.) Scop. Canada Thistle

Cirsium arvense (L.) Scop. (Syn: Breea arvensis (L.) Lessing) Canada Thistle. Deep-rooted perennial weed that infests natural areas, pastures, rights-of-ways, seasonal wetlands, and cropland. Widespread and common. Probably native tosoutheastern Europe and the eastern Mediterranean. First introduced into North America in the early 1600s, probably as a contaminant in hay, crop seeds, and ship ballast. Best adpated to open sunny sites on well-drained, deep fine-textured soils. Clumps or patches from an extensive creeping root system. About four feet in height. Small flower heads that are either male or female (dioecious), with patches of a single sex often occurring. Once dispersed, each single-seeded fruitlet is able to eztablish either a male or female clone through vegetatie propagation of its root system. Canada thistle root system may extend as much as 18 feet in one season, but individual roots live only for about 2 years. Typically sprayed when found. Some biological controls are available, though not particularly effective. Others are not imported to the United States due to possible non-target effects on native thistles.
Full Size Image
Coll. No. 1512, Cirsium arvense

Full Size ImageInflorescence of Coll. No. 1139, Aegilops cylindrica
Full Size ImageInflorescence of Coll. No. 1139, Aegilops cylindrica  

Aegilops cylindrica Host. Jointed Goat Grass

Aegilops cylindrica Host. (Syn: Cylindropyrum cylindricum (Host) Á. Löve) Jointed Goat Grass. Common and widespread.


List C

List C Species are species for which the Commissioner, in consultation with the state noxious weed advisory committee, local governments, and other interested parties, will develop and implement state noxious weed management plans designed to support the efforts of local governing bodies to facilitate more effective integrated weed management on private and public lands. The goal of such plans will not be to stop the continued spread of these species but to provide additional education, research, and biological control resources to jurisdictions that choose to require management of List C species. The following List C plants are found in Golden s.l.:

Other articles: Field Notes Coll. No. 1790, 23 Apr 2018
Full Size ImageColl. No. 1790, Erodium cicutarium  

Erodium cicutarium (L.) L'Her. ex Aiton. Redstem Stork's Bill

Erodium cicutarium (L.) L'Her. ex Aiton. Redstem Stork's Bill. Also a very common, ubiquitous weed.

Other articles: Field Notes Coll. No. 994
Full Size ImageColl. No. 994, Tribulus terrestris  

Tribulus terrestris L. Puncture Vine

Tribulus terrestris L. Puncture Vine. Common. Adventive.

Other articles: “Tilting Mesa Cut-Off” at saddle Field Notes Coll. No. 1229, 20 Jul 2015
Full Size ImageColl. No. 1228, Hypericum perforatum
Full Size ImageColl. No. 1229, Hypericum perforatum  

Hypericum perforatum L. Common St. John's Wort

Hypericum perforatum L. Common St. John's Wort. There are about 30 collections from Jefferson County. The only collection in Golden s.l. is from the top of North Table Mountain. It is probably more common and widespread.

Other articles: Field Notes Coll. No. 1436, 15 Jun 2016
Full Size ImageColl. No. 1436, Conium maculatum  

Conium maculatum L. Common Poison Hemlock

Conium maculatum L. Common Poison Hemlock. Common and widespread. Adventive in gardens.

Other articles: Plainview Road near coll loc west Field Notes Coll. No. 1220, 16 Jul 2015
Full Size ImageHabitat of Coll. No. 1220, Convolvulus arvensis
Full Size ImageColl. No. 1220, Convolvulus arvensis  

Convolvulus arvensis L. Field Bindweed

Convolvulus arvensis L. Field Bindweed. Very common, ubiquitous weed.

In my garden I have a protocol to remove bindweed. It is pretty labor intensive, but it seems to work. When I find bindweed, I pull and dig it out as much as possible. Then I watch the spot. If any bindweed comes up again, I drench it with glyphosate. I may have to do this four or five times. This works for a small area. I don't know what could be done with a large field.

I will say this, though, field bindweed really makes a good looking voucher.

Other articles: North Table Loop at Neighborhood Access Trl Field Notes 2-Aug-07
Full Size ImageDense colonies of Common Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) in Cottonwood Canyon
Full Size ImageCollection No. 512, Verbascum thapsus  

Verbascum thapsus L. Common Mullein

Verbascum thapsus L. Common Mullein. Ubitquitous, forms large dense colonies, frequently adventive in city gardens.

Arctium minus Bernh. Lesser Burdock

Arctium minus Bernh. Lesser Burdock. Known only from Heritage Square.

Other articles: Plainview Road near coll loc west Field Notes Coll. No. 1223, 16 Jul 2015
Full Size ImageHabitat of Coll. No. 1223, Cichorium intybus  

Cichorium intybus L. Chicory

Cichorium intybus L. Chicory. Appears only on a list of observations for North Table Mountain, probably undercollected.

Other articles: Rubey Drive at turn Field Notes Coll. No. 1112, 26 May 2015
Full Size ImageColl. No. 1112, Bromus tectorum  

Bromus tectorum L. Cheat Grass

Bromus tectorum L. (Syn: B. tectorum L. var. glabratus Spenn.) Cheat Grass. Ubiquitous, adventive.

Elymus repens (L.) Gould. Quack Grass

Elymus repens (L.) Gould. (Syn: Elytrigia repens (L.) Desv. ex B. D. Jacks. ) Quack Grass. One collection, Golden location doubtful.

Panicum milliaceum L. Proso Millet.

Panicum milliaceum L. Proso Millet. Known only from Lookout Mountain.

Other articles: Tucker Gulch Trail above 1st St near 1st Field Notes 10 Aug 2014 Coll. No. 1114, 26 May 2015

Locations: Tucker Gulch (lower).
Full Size ImageTucker Gulch, north from First Street  

Poa bulbosa L. Bulbous Bluegrass

Full Size Image
Florets of Coll. No. 1114, Poa bulbosa.
Full Size Image
Inflorescence of Coll. No. 1114, Poa bulbosa.
Poa bulbosa L. Bulbous Bluegrass. Widespread.

Collected and seen in multiple places along the North Table Loop, especially on the lower slopes of North Table Mountain. Collected by Janet L. Wingate at the former intersection of US Highway 6 and Tripp Road. This is likely near the undercrossing of US Highway 6 by the Kinney Run Trail. Seen along an elk trail in the southern end of the Survey Field.


Watch List

Watch List Species that have been determined to pose a potential threat to the agricultural productivity and environmental values of the lands of the state. The Watch List is intended to serve advisory and educational purposes only. Its purpose is to encourage the identification and reporting of these species to the Commissioner in order to facilitate the collection of information to assist the Commissioner in determining which species should be designated as noxious weeds. There are two plants in Golden s.l. that are on the Watch List:

Carthamus lanatus L. Wooly Distaff Thistle

Carthamus lanatus L. Wooly Distaff Thistle. Known from one collection along Lubahn Trail, base of South Table Mountain.

Other articles: Field Notes Coll. No. 1710, 14 Jul 2017
Full Size ImageColl. No. 1710, Gypsophila paniculata  

Gypsophila paniculata L. Baby's Breath

Gypsophila paniculata L. Baby's Breath. Upper Washington Avenue Open Space. Baby's breath is an ornamental species that has escaped cultivation. Once established, it can form dense stands and is difficult to control. In pastures and rangeland, it competes with forage species and decreases hay forage quality. There is only one other collection from Jefferson County, Colorado.



Notable Non-Native Plants



Alien Grasses in the Golden Landscape.

There are 29 species of alien grasses that have been collected in Golden s/l.. Six of those grasses are listed Colorado noxious weeds. Noxious weeds are discussed under “Noxious Weeds,” above.

Other articles: Golden Checklist Flora Noxious Weeds  

Colorado Noxious Weed List A:

Colorado Noxious Weed List B:

Colorado Noxious Weed List C:

  Unlisted alien grasses:
  Echter's “Dryland Pasture Mix” is described as being great for meadows and for erosion control. It can be used to reseed meadows and wildlife areas. The grasses are heat and cold tolerant, palatable and provide good nutrition for livestock and wildlife. It is said to be drought tolerant.
20%Tall Fescue
20%Annual Rye
10%Smooth Brome
10%Orchard Grass

“Tall Fescue” Schedonorus arundinaceus (Schreb.) Dumort. (Syn: Festuca arundinacea Schreb., Lolium arundinaceum (Schreb.) S. J. Darbyshire) is a cool-season perennial C3 species of bunchgrass native to Europe. It is an important forage grass throughout Europe, and many cultivars have been used in agriculture. It is also an ornamental grass in gardens, and a phytoremediation plant. Wikipedia, 2019. The SEINet taxon tree treats Schedonorus a. as a distinct taxon from Festuca a. and Lolium a..

Annual Rye grass appears to be Lolium multiflorum Lam.

“Wheatgrass” could be Pascopyrum or Thinopyrum, or possibly Elymus.

Festulolium, c.f., F. braunii K.A. is a hybrid cross between the Festuca and Lolium species. The agronomic benefits of festulolium started to gain acceptance in the late 1950’s with demand steadily increasing over the years. Festulolium is mainly utilized in pastures for grazing and stockpiling, either in mixes or pure stands. Silage and green chop are other major uses. Benefits include higher forage yields than perennial ryegrass, forage quality similar to perennial ryegrass, increased mid summer growth compared to other cool season grasses, high disease resistance, winterhardiness and persistence.

“Smooth Brome” is most likely Bromus inermis Leyss.

“Orchard Grass” is Dactylis glomerata L.


Bromus inermis Leyss. Smooth Brome

  If I were a dryland cattle rancher, I would plant smooth brome. It greens up early, but can survive periods of drought and extremes in temperature. It is highly palatable and is high in protein content and relatively low in crude-fiber content. It is deep-rooted and spreads by rhizomes in addition to seed. It is compatible with alfalfa or other adapted legumes.
  On the other hand, if I were a prairie restoration ecologist, I would go around shooting dryland cattle ranchers who planted smooth brome.

Literature Cited:
- Global Invasive Species Database, 2019.  

Bromus inermis is a highly competitive C3 grass that forms a dense sod, resulting in smothering and exclusion of other (native) species and decreasing natural biodiversity (ANHP, 2002; Oftinowski et al., 2007). ANHP (2002) writes that \"Smooth brome may inhibit natural succession processes…and [serves as an] alternate host for viral diseases of crops.\" Anemone patens, a long lived native perennial in North American grasslands, is negatively affected by the presence of B. inermis. The thatch left by previous B. inermis growth creates an issue for survival and germination of A. patens seeds (Williams & Crone, 2006). B. inermis has also shown to alter the population dynamics of the dominant native perennial prairie cordgrass (Spartina pectinata). When B. inermis grows in conjunction with native S. pectinata is known to reduce patch growth, decrease colonization rates and increase extinction rates of the native species (Dillemuth et al., 2009). B. inermis is also known to significantly impact the population dynamics and movement behaviour of several native arthropod species in North American prairies (Baum et al., 2004; Cronin 2003a, b, 2007; Cronin & Haynes 2004; Cronin et al., 2004; Haynes & Cronin 2003).


Literature Cited:
- Sovell, John, Pam Smith, Denise Culver, Susan Panjabi and Joe Stevens, 2012.  

Smooth brome is considered to be an invasive species in at least to other states (MN, OH, IN, IL, KY, TN, NB, WI, ND and MS), by and The Nature Conservancy. In Colorado, smooth brome is available for use in seed mixes used by ranchers, homeowners, and highway departments which is why it is not listed as an invasive species.

“Tall Fescue”


Literature Cited:
- Gmelin, Johan Georg, 1747-1769.
- Scheuzer, Johann Jacob, 1719.
- Schreber, Johann Christian Daniel von, 1771.  

There seems to be general agreement (by extensive Google search) that what is called “Tall Fescue” is the grass known by its basionym of Festuca arundinacea Schreb.

1000. FESTVCA (arundinacea) panicula ſpicata ſtricta, ſpiculis oblongis erectis paucifloris, ariſtatis, calycibus anguſtatis. Gmel. Sibir. 1. p. 111. 1000. Festuca arundinacea panicle spike strict, spikes oblong erect awn, calyx angular. Gmelin, Flora Sibirica sive Historia Plantarum Siberiae. 1. p. 111.
Gramen arundinaceum, locuſtis viridi-ſpadiceis loliaceis brevius ariſtatis. Scheuchz. Agr. p. 266. t. 5. f. 18. Grass reed-like, … Scheuzer, Agrostographia sive Graminum, … p. 266. t. 5. f. 18.
In prato acclivi hinter dem Biniz, loco humido. In the steep field beyond the Biniz [East Germany], in a damp location.

“arundinacea” would mean cane-like from arundo (“cane”) +? -aceus.

“loliaceis” could mean chaffy, but Lolium itself is a name given by Virgil to a troublesome weed.

  There is less agreement as to its current accepted name, whether it should be Festuca arundinacea Schreb., Lolium arundinaceum (Schreb.) Darbysh., or Schedonorus arundinaceus (Schreb.) Dumort.

Literature Cited:
- Ackerfield, Jennifer, 2015.
- Baldwin, Bruce G., Douglas H. Goldman, David J. Keil, Robert Patterson, and Thomas J. Rosatti, 2012.
- Harrington, H. D., 1954.
- Shaw, Robert B., 2008.
- Weber, William A., and Ronald C. Wittmann, 2012.
- Jungate, Janet L., 1994.  

Starting close to home, most Colorado authors use Schedonorus arundinaceus (Schreb.) Dumort., including Ackerfield (2015), Weber & Wittman (2015), and Shaw (2008).

Wingate (1994) uses Festuca arundinaceus Schreb., although it is a older reference. Harrington (1964, 2nd ed.) used Festuca elatior var. arundinaceae (Screb.) Celak..

By way of comparison, the Jepson Manual of California (Baldwin, et al., 2012) retains Festuca arundinacea Schreb.

Full Size ImageCollections of “tall fescue” entered into SEINet  
On a regional level, the Southwest Biodiversity Network (SEINet) taxon tree has kind of a split personality with regard to “Tall Fescue.” The current (3 October 2019) taxon tree accepts both Lolium arundinaceum (Schreb.) S.J. Darbyshire and Schedonorus asundinaceus (Schreb.) Dumort.

               [Lolium x aschersoniana]
                 Lolium arundinaceum  
                       [Festuca arundinacea]
                       [Festuca elatior subsp. Arundinacea]
                       [Festuca elatior var. arundinacea]
                 Schedonorus arundinaceus 
                       [Avena secunda]
                       [Bromus arundinaceus]
                       [Bromus elatior]
                       [Festuca elatior f. aristata]
                       [Festuca elatior f. elatior]
                       [Festuca fenas]
                       [Festuca mediterranea]
                       [Festuca orientalis]
                       [Festuca phoenix]
                       [Festuca uechtritziana]
                       [Poa elatior]
                       [Poa kunthii]
                       [Poa phoenix]
                       [Poa uliginosa]
                       [Schedonorus elatior]
                       [Schedonorus phoenix]
                       [Tragus elatior]

One consequence is that both names have to be entered into a query when searching for collections of “tall fescue.”

The map at left shows the locations of Colorado collections of “tall fescue” that have coordinates entered into SEINet. Within Jefferson County, collections have primarily been made at Chatfield Farms, Hildebrand Park and Deer Creek Canyon Park.

Literature Cited:
- Henson, James F., 2001.
- Soreng, Robert J., Edward E. Terrell, John Wiersma, & S. J. Darbyshore, 2001.  

USDA Plants accepts Schedonorus arundinaceus (Schreb.) Dumort. as a conserved name. Festuca arundinacea Schreb and Lolium arundinaceum (Schreb.) S.J. Darbyshire are treated as synonyms. Perhaps somewhat ironic is the USDA NRCS plant guide for “Tall Fescue” which accepts the name of Lolium arundinaceum (Schreb.) S.J. Darbyshire.

Conservation of Schedonorus arundinaceus (Schreb.) Dumort. was proposed by Soreng, et al. (2001).

Lolium arundinaceum (Schreb.) Darbysh. (Formerly Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) ( has some history of various cultivars.

Tall Fescue Online monograph. (

Hexaploid tall fescue [Lolium arundinaceum (Schreb.) Darbysh. = Schedonorus arundinaceus (Schreb.) Dumort., formerly Festuca arundinacea Schreb. var. arundinacea] is an agronomically vital member of the grass family that has been characterized based on morphological characteristics, interfertility relationships, and, more recently, genetic criteria such as gene sequences. Efforts to improve tall fescue for forage or turf and to gain insight into processes of grass evolution hinge on an accurate depiction of the interrelationships that exist between this species and other Lolium and Festuca grasses. The evolution of hexaploid tall fescue, and a majority of grasses, has involved interspecific hybridization that obscures species boundaries but, more importantly, serves as a rapid means of combining distinct genomes into novel progeny with enhanced evolutionary potential. We discuss here the systematics of the Festuca-Lolium complex within the context of such processes and highlight the dynamic and often confounding evolutionary history that characterizes tall fescue and its relatives.

Festuca arundinacea Schreb. Tall fescue (

Forage Identification: Tall fescue. Department of Plant Sciences. Tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea (Schreb.) Darbysh) (

Phylogeny of tall fescue and related species using RFLPs. Theor Appl Genet. 1994 Aug;88(6-7):685-90. doi: 10.1007/BF01253971. (

Melanie L Hand, Noel OI Cogan, Alan V Stewart & John W Forster Evolutionary history of tall fescue morphotypes inferred from molecular phylogenetics of the Lolium-Festuca species complex BMC Evolutionary Biologyvolume 10, Article number: 303 (2010) (



Vegetation Types






Literature Cited:
- Colwell, Robert K., 2008.
- Savard, Jean-Pierre L., Philippe Clergeau, and Gwenaelle Mennechez, 2000.  

What is biodiversity?



Taxonomic Issues

  Lumping vs. splitting Mentzelia.

Literature Cited:
- Reveal, James L., Gary E. Moulton and Alfred E. Schuyler, 1999.  

Ericameria nauseosa
  Cyclachaena and Iva


Literature Cited:
- Ornduff, Robert, and Marion S. Cave, .  

Leucocrinum montanum Star Lily

Sand-lily, Leucocrinum montanum Nutt., is a showy perennial that occurs widely in arid regions of the western United States. Recently, the second author reported chromosome counts of n = 11, 13, and 14 for this species (Cave, 1970). Plants from the Rocky Mountain region have n = 14 (see also Löve et al., 1971), those from several localities in California, western Nevada, and Oregon have n = 13, and one population from Nevada has n = 11. In addition, Cave noted that in some populations pollen is shed in tetrads and in others it is shed singly. In this paper we further discuss the variation in chromosome number and in the condition of pollen at the time of shedding (Ornduff and Cave, 1975).








Floristic Tour of the Golden Area





Literature Cited

  A list of all literature cited by this web site can be found in the Bibliography.
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Date and time this article was prepared: 10/12/2019 9:57:30 AM