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

Oreocarya flavoculata

Oreocarya flavoculata. Synonym:Cryptantha flavoculata. (Little Yellow Cat's Eye)
Boraginaceae (Forget-Me-Not Family)

Semi-desert. Canyonlands. Spring.
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, April 5, 2005.

This Oreocarya is, according to William Weber, "probably the most common and variable species [of Oreocarya in Colorado], from [the] Gunnison Basin westward, in sagebrush and pinyon-juniper".   It can be erect or reclining,  is very hairy, and has flowers with a touch of yellow in the center and along the throat.  It is very similar to Oreocarya fulvocanescens shown below and is distinguished primarily by the shape of its nutlets.

Aven Nelson named this plant Oreocarya flavoculata in 1899 from a specimen he collected in Wyoming in 1898. "Flavoculata" is Latin for "a little yellow".

Oreocarya flavoculata
Oreocarya flavoculata. Synonym:Cryptantha flavoculata. (Little Yellow Cat's Eye)
Boraginaceae (Forget-Me-Not Family)

Semi-desert. Canyonlands. Spring.
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, April 5, 2005.

 

Oreocarya fulvocanescens

Oreocarya fulvocanescens variety nitida. Synonyms: Cryptantha fulvocanescens, Oreocarya nitida.(Gray Cat's Eye)   
Boraginaceae (Forget-Me-Nots)

Semi-desert, foothills.  Openings. Spring.  Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, May 5, 2009.

Oreocarya fulvocanescens shares the same habitat and many of the characteristics of the other Oreocaryas shown on this page.   All of these plants enjoy sunny, sandy/rocky soils and all bloom profusely for more than a month in the spring and early summer. Individual tubular flowers are quite tiny but are so massed that the plants are quite showy. 

As you can see in several of the photos on this page, it is common for the plants to show last year's dried flower stems and leaves.  Plants grow to almost a foot tall, depending on the moisture and soil conditions. 

Asa Gray named this plant Erytrichium glomeratus var. fulvocanescens in 1871 from a specimen collected by Augustus Fendler near Santa Fe in 1847. Edward Greene placed this species in the Oreocarya genus in 1887.

"Fulvo" and "canescens", both Latin, refer to the plants color: "tawny" "becoming gray".

Oreocarya fulvocanescens

Oreocarya fulvocanescens variety nitida. Synonyms: Cryptantha fulvocanescens, Oreocarya nitida.(Gray Cat's Eye)      
Boraginaceae (Forget-Me-Nots)

Semi-desert, foothills.  Openings. Spring.  The Hogback, New Mexico, April 24, 2007.

The three inch tall young plants shown at left probably grew to only six inches in the 2007 season.  In future years such small plants would expand their basal leaf masses to over a foot in diameter and continue to live and flower for many years.

Oreocarya fulvocanescens

Oreocarya fulvocanescens

Oreocarya fulvocanescens variety nitida. Synonyms: Cryptantha fulvocanescens, Oreocarya nitida.(Gray Cat's Eye)   
Boraginaceae (Forget-Me-Nots)

Semi-desert, foothills.  Openings. Spring.  Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, May 5, 2009. The Hogback, New Mexico, April 24, 2007.

Oreocarya fulvocanescens

Oreocarya fulvocanescens variety nitida. Synonyms: Cryptantha fulvocanescens, Oreocarya nitida.(Gray Cat's Eye)    
Boraginaceae (Forget-Me-Nots)

Semi-desert, foothills.  Openings. Spring.  McElmo Canyon, April 25, 2009.

The yellow projections are called "fornices" and are common in Boraginaceae. The fornices of this species are typically around 1 mm whereas the fornices of O. flavoculata are taller, up to 2 mm.

 

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

Semi-desert. Canyonlands. Spring.
Canyonlands National Park, Utah, April 14, 2004.

This dainty Oreocarya grows only on the Colorado Plateau and only in sandy and rocky areas.  The flower is brilliantly white and eye-catching.  Leaves are linear to spatulate and quite hairy.

Alice Eastwood discovered this species for science in Courthouse Wash (now part of Arches National Park) May 23, 1892 and she named and described it in 1903. "Tenuis" is Latin for "slim, slender".

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 Oreocarya flavoculata

Range map for Oreocarya fulvocanescens

Range map for Oreocarya tenuis