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    Cow Parsnip and Love Root are close relatives and if you mentally cut a Cow Parsnip leaf into a lacy, fern-like leaf and reduce its flower size considerably, you end up with a plant that looks like Loveroot. The two plants enjoy similar habitats and are commonly found near each other.  Both are quite common in the mountains of the Four Corners area but Loveroot is by far the more common of the two, growing along almost all trails and often growing in thick, extensive patches. See Cow Parsnip.
Ligusticum porteri
Ligusticum porteri (Loveroot)
Apiaceae (Parsley Family)

Montane, subalpine.  Woodlands, openings.  Summer.
West Mancos Trail, June 26, 2004.

Love Root is very common in the San Juans and other Four Corners mountains and often grows in dense stands covering acres under Aspens and in meadows.  A mass of large, fern-like leaves arch upward to two or three feet and are followed by three-to-six foot flower stalks.  Flower heads open to four inches across.

Being a common plant sometimes means that you will have many common names; this certainly is true of Ligusticum porteri.  It is called Loveroot, Lovage, Porter’s Lovage, Porter’s Ligusticum, Osha, Chuchupate, Licorice Root, and Wild Parsley.  "Ligusticum" is Latin, and probably means "from the Liguria region of Italy", where a related plant, Lovage, Levisticum officinale, grows in profusion and is widely used as a herb.

Thomas C. Porter, 1822-1901, was a Professor of Botany and a Colorado botanist who collected this lovely plant along the headwaters of the Platte in 1873.  In 1870 he and John Coulter published the first Colorado flora, the Synopsis of the Flora of Colorado(More biographical information.)

Ligusticum porteri

Ligusticum porteri

Ligusticum porteri (Loveroot)
Apiaceae (Parsley Family)

Subalpine.  Woodlands, openings.  Summer.
Pass Creek Trail, June 11, 2010 and Navajo Lake Trail, June 25, 2005.

Very young leaves are crowded into a soft green head.

It is common for mature Loveroot leaflets to have shades of green  --  darker green borders with lighter green centers.

Ligusticum porteri

Ligusticum porteri

Ligusticum porteri (Loveroot)
Apiaceae (Parsley Family)

Subalpine.  Woodlands, openings.  Summer.
West Mancos Trail, June 17, 2004 and
Stoner Mesa Trail, June 23, 2005.

Ligusticum porteriEmerging flower heads are tightly packed and have green, rose, and purple tinges.

Eventually clusters spread widely and open bright white.

Ligusticum porteri
Ligusticum porteri (Loveroot)
Apiaceae (Parsley Family)

Subalpine.  Woodlands, openings.  Summer.
Horse Creek Trail, August 31, 2005.

Gone to seed.

Ligusticum porteri
Ligusticum porteri (Loveroot)
Apiaceae (Parsley Family)

Subalpine.  Woodlands, openings.  Summer.
Colorado Trail above Roaring Fork, August 7, 2004.

Loveroot turns meadows and forest floors golden-yellow in the fall.

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Range map for Ligusticum porteri  

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