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Besseya ritteriana
Besseya ritteriana
Besseya ritteriana (Ritters' Kitten Tails). Synonym: Synthyris ritteriana.
Plantaginaceae (Plantain Family),
formerly Scrophulariaceae (Snapdragon Family)

Montane, subalpine, alpine. Meadows. Summer.
Above: Ryman Creek Trail, June 10, 2016.
Left: Horse Creek Trail, June 6, 2004.

Since Kitten Tails bloom early and tend to grow scattered in high meadows, often among much taller or showier plants, they are known to few hikers.  Find them and take a close look and you will see them to be a fascinating member of the Plantain Family. Their tiny yellow/white flowers cluster tightly at the top of sturdy stems.

The type specimen of Besseya ritteriana was collected near the "Bear Creek Divide, west La Plata Mountains", probably in 1898 by either Alice Eastwood or the team of C.F. Baker, F.S. Earle, and S.M. Tracy. Eastwood described the plant and named it Synthyris ritteriana. "Ritteriana" honors B. W. and Jeanette Ritter of Durango, Colorado. (More biographical information about the Ritters.)

"Besseya" honors Charles Bessey, Professor, collector, plant taxonomist, and teacher of Per Axel Rydberg, who named the genus and species in 1903.  (More biographical information about Bessey.)

Click to see Besseya alpina, the tiny alpine cousin of Besseya ritteriana.

Besseya ritteriana
Besseya ritteriana (Ritters' Kitten Tails). Synonym: Synthyris ritteriana.
Plantaginaceae (Plantain Family)

Montane, subalpine, alpine. Meadows. Summer.
Ryman Creek Trail, June 13, 2007.

After flowers fade, the seed stalks elongate.

Besseya ritteriana

Besseya ritteriana

Besseya ritteriana (Ritters' Kitten Tails). Synonym: Synthyris ritteriana.
Plantaginaceae (Plantain Family)

Montane, subalpine, alpine. Meadows. Summer.
Below Helmet-Spiller Ridge, June 22, 2009.

Besseya ritteriana
Besseya ritteriana (Ritters' Kitten Tails). Synonym: Synthyris ritteriana.
Plantaginaceae (Plantain Family)

Montane, subalpine, alpine. Meadows. Summer.
Lizard Head Trail, August 31, 2004.

By fall, leaves have often grown to eight inches long and have turned lovely maroons.

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 Besseya ritteriana