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   Constantine Rafinesque (1783-1840) named this genus, probably in 1833 when he renamed Selinum acaule (a name given by Pursh in 1814) to Cymopterus acaulis.  The Greek "cym" and "pterum" come together as "Cymopterus", "waved" "wing", referring to the fruit.

    Intermountain Flora observes that "the taxonomic definition of Cymopterus is a vexed question....  Even the distinction between Cymopterus and Lomatium is subject to failure".  Ordinarily one or more of the Cymopterus dorsal seed ribs have wings; Lomatium seed ribs do not have wings. "Cymopterus newberryi completely bridges the difference.  In this species the dorsal wings vary from nearly or fully as large as the lateral ones to poorly developed or even obsolete".

   Click for more Cymopterus and Cymopterus bulbosus and Lomatium.

Cymopterus purpureus
Cymopterus purpureus

Cymopterus purpureus. Synonym: Aulospermum purpureum. (Purple Biscuitroot)
Apiaceae (Parsley Family)

Semi-desert, foothills. Canyons, openings. Spring.
Above: Lower Cross Canyon, April 21, 2015.
Left: Carpenter Natural Area, Cortez, Colorado, April 20, 2005.

Typical of the Cymopterus genus, Cymopterus purpureus is much wider than it is tall; it often spreads itself along the ground. The flower head starts in a tight, greenish-yellow cluster but then enlarges and spreads becoming golden and sometimes drying to purple.  Stems of the leaves and flowers are often tinged reddish-purple.  Leaves are often a powdery blue-green and are commonly two-toned.  They can have a sheen to them and they are always deeply cut with pointed tips.

"Purpureus" is from the Latin "purpur", "purple", referring to the stem and to the sometimes color of the flower.  The plant was first collected in 1869 by Palmer and named in 1873 by Sereno Watson, Asa Gray's pupil and successor.

Cymopterus purpureus

Cymopterus purpureus

Cymopterus purpureus. Synonym: Aulospermum purpureum. (Purple Biscuitroot)
Apiaceae (Parsley Family)

Semi-desert, foothills. Canyons, openings. Spring.
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, May 4, 2009.

In contrast to Cymopterus glomeratus which has short rays (the long arms supporting the flower clusters), the rays of C. purpureus are usually quite long, up to 10 centimeters, but they can be only .2 centimeters.

The photograph below shows another distinguishing characteristic of C. purpureus: it has narrow and often quite short involucel bracts: the long, narrow, red/green (sometimes whitish), sharply pointed structures that subtend the individual flower Cymopterus purpureusclusters.

Cymopterus terebinthinus (Turpentine Biscuitroot)
Apiaceae (Parsley Family)

Semi-desert. Canyons, openings. Spring.
Blackrock Canyon, Navajo Reservation, Arizona, May 12, 2007.

Leaves are so widely spaced along the stem and so finely cut that the plant has a very airy, slender, elongated appearance. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Long flower stems also contribute to this appearance.  The plant has a pleasant smell.

Cymopterus terebinthinus was collected by David Douglas in 1826 near the Walla-Walla River and it was at first named Selinum terebinthinum by Hooker in 1832; Torrey and Gray renamed it Cymopterus terebinthinus in 1840.  "Terebinthinus" is Greek for "Turpentine Tree" and is used here to refer to the odor of C. terebinthinus.  Thomas Nuttall posthumously renamed it Pteryxia terebinthina in a publication by John Coulter and Joseph Rose in 1900.

Cymopterus terebinthinus (Turpentine Biscuitroot)
Apiaceae (Parsley Family)

Semi-desert. Canyons, openings. Spring.
Blackrock Canyon, Navajo Reservation, Arizona, May 12, 2007.

Cymopterus terebinthinus is one of the few hosts plants of Papilio indra complex of lepidoptera.  Click to read about this relationship.

 

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 Cymopterus purpureus

Range map for Cymopterus terebinthinus