SEARCH AND WILDFLOWER HOME PAGE     WHITE FLOWERS      CONTACT US

Oreocarya humilis

Oreocarya humilis

Oreocarya humilis. Synonym: Cryptantha humilis. (Humble Cat's Eye)
Boraginaceae (Forget-Me-Not Family)

Semi-desert. Openings. Spring.
Colorado, near Four Corners, April 17, 2010 and Canyonlands National Park, Utah, April 24, 2014.

Oreocarya humilis spreads low along the ground but sends up straight, vertical flower stems from four to eight inches tall.  The inflorescence (the flower cluster) is conspicuously very hairy. O. humilis is not common in the Four Corners where it is almost at its most eastern occurrence, but westward through Utah and Nevada it becomes a common Oreocarya.

Welsh indicates that this is the "most variable of all Utah Cryptanthas [Oreocaryas]".

Edward Greene named this plant Oreocarya humilis in 1896 from a collection he made in the same year in Nevada.  Edwin Payson placed the plant in the Cryptantha genus in 1927.

"Humilis" is Latin for "low", "humble".

Click for more Oreocarya humilis photographs.

       Click to read about how to distinguish between Cryptantha and Oreocarya..

Oreocarya humilis

Oreocarya humilis. Synonym: Cryptantha humilis. (Humble Cat's Eye)
Boraginaceae (Forget-Me-Not Family)

Semi-desert. Spring. Openings.
Colorado, near Four Corners, April 17, 2010.

Oreocarya humilis

Oreocarya humilis. Synonym: Cryptantha humilis. (Humble Cat's Eye)
Boraginaceae (Forget-Me-Not Family)

Semi-desert. Openings. Spring.
Colorado, near Four Corners, April 17, 2010.

Oreocarya paradoxa

Oreocarya paradoxa. Synonym: Cryptantha paradoxa. (Paradox Cat's Eye)
Boraginaceae (Forget-Me-Nots)

Semi-desert.  Openings. Spring. 
Utah, near the Four Corners, April 17, 2010.

This lovely plant is far less common than most of the other Oreocaryas shown in this web site.  As the range map below shows, Oreocarya paradoxa has a very limited range in eastern Utah, western Colorado, and one northwestern county in New Mexico.

Oreocarya paradoxa grows no more than about four inches tall, has long, soft hairs, and has fornices (those yellow protrusions at the base of the white petals) no more than a millimeter high. 

Aven Nelson named this plant Oreocarya paradoxa in 1913 from a collection made by Walker in the Paradox Valley of western Colorado.  Edwin Payson placed the plant in the Cryptantha genus in 1927.

"Paradoxa" is Greek for "incredible" or "marvelous", but the plant is named for its type location, Colorado's Paradox Valley.

Oreocarya paradoxa

Oreocarya paradoxa. Synonym: Cryptantha paradoxa. (Paradox Cat's Eye)
Boraginaceae (Forget-Me-Nots)

Semi-desert.  Openings. Spring. 
Utah, near the Four Corners, April 17, 2010
.

 

Oreocarya suffruticosa

Oreocarya suffruticosa. Synonyms: Cryptantha cinerea, Cryptantha jamesii, Eritrichium jamesii, Myosotis suffruticosa, Cryptantha cinerea variety pustulosa, Cryptantha jamesii variety pustulosa, Cryptantha pustulosa, Oreocarya pustulosa. (Shrubby Cat's Eye)
Boraginaceae (Forget-Me-Nots)

Semi-desert.  Openings. Spring, summer. 
Comb Ridge, Utah, May 15, 2013.

Oreocarya suffruticosa is a bit unusual for an Oreocarya, for it has relatively leafy stems, deciduous basal leaves, sparse pubescence, and clustered and spreading cymes. But it is an Oreocarya by all other characteristics, such as, the flowers and hairy fruits shown below.

Depending on which name one gives this plant and which name came before which name and which variety the specimen is, credit for collecting this plant for science would go to one of the many collectors who gathered it in the mid-to-late 1800s and credit for naming and describing the plant would go to one of many botanists who published the plant details.

In 1827 John Torrey first described and named the species Myosotis suffruticosa from a collection Edwin James made on the Platte River, but, according to Intermountain Flora, when Torrey received better specimens he "recognized that the plant is strictly herbaceous, and he considered suffruticosa to be an inappropriate epithet". "Suffruticosa" is Latin for "almost a shrub". Torrey changed the name to Eritrichium jamesii, but that name change is not, according to botanical rules, acceptable and dozens of name changes followed. Most present floras now accept the name, Cryptantha cinerea, but Colorado flora expert William Weber, and John Kartesz, the authority for all names on this web site, accept, Oreocarya suffruticosa.

I won't even try to deal with what variety the photographs show!

Oreocarya suffruticosa

Oreocarya suffruticosa

Oreocarya suffruticosa. Synonyms: Cryptantha cinerea, Cryptantha jamesii, Eritrichium jamesii, Myosotis suffruticosa, Cryptantha cinerea variety pustulosa, Cryptantha jamesii variety pustulosa, Cryptantha pustulosa, Oreocarya pustulosa. (Shrubby Cat's Eye)
Boraginaceae (Forget-Me-Nots)

Semi-desert.  Openings. Spring, summer. 
Comb Ridge, Utah, May 15, 2013.

Flowers are in cymes which, as the second photograph at left illustrates, elongate in age. Note in the first photograph that the fornices (yellow raised area in the center of each flower) are quite small and light yellow. The side view of the flower at 9 o'clock shows the darker green calyx covering the very short floral tube, another characteristic of O. suffruticosa.

On the right side of the second photograph at left, flowers are just fading and as you look farther and farther to the left, you can see the nutlets maturing, until at the far left center you can see the glabrous (not hairy) nutlets separating from each other. Notice also the style still attached and protruding about 2 millimeters.

 

Oreocarya suffruticosa

Oreocarya suffruticosa. Synonyms: Cryptantha cinerea, Cryptantha jamesii, Eritrichium jamesii, Myosotis suffruticosa, Cryptantha cinerea variety pustulosa, Cryptantha jamesii variety pustulosa, Cryptantha pustulosa, Oreocarya pustulosa. (Shrubby Cat's Eye)
Boraginaceae (Forget-Me-Nots)

Semi-desert.  Openings. Spring, summer. 
Comb Ridge, Utah, May 15, 2013.

Basal leaves are usually withered by anthesis (flowering time).

Flowering stems are numerous and leaves are gradually reduced in size upward. Also see first photograph of O. suffruticosa above.

 

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

Oreocarya humilis

Range map for Oreocarya humilis

Oreocarya paradoxa

Range map for Oreocarya paradoxa

Oreocarya suffruticosa variety pustulosa

Range map for Oreocarya suffruticosa variety pustulosa

S     CONTACT US