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Rydbergia grandiflora
Hymenoxys grandiflora. Synonyms: Rydbergia grandiflora, Tetraneuris grandiflora.
(Old Man of the Mountain)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Alpine. Tundra. Summer.
Stony Pass, July 21, 2011.

Rydbergia grandiflora

Hymenoxys grandiflora. Synonyms: Rydbergia grandiflora, Tetraneuris grandiflora.
(Old Man of the Mountain)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Alpine. Tundra. Summer.
Trail above Bridal Veil Creek, Telluride, July 23, 2009 and
Lizard Head Trail, June 11, 2008.

Rydbergia grandiflora
 
Hymenoxys grandiflora. Synonyms: Rydbergia grandiflora, Tetraneuris grandiflora.
(Old Man of the Mountain)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Alpine. Tundra. Summer.
Sharkstooth Trail, June 17, 2004.

With flowers so large they often obscure the stems and leaves, Old Man of the Mountain cannot be missed -- unless you donít hike above tree-line.  On the open alpine tundra, this plant is often abundant and very obvious.  Flower stems range from just a few inches tall, as in these young plants shown at left, to ten inches tall in July and August older plants.   The stems and leaves of Old Man are a distinctive very densely hairy green.

It is always a treat for me to see Hymenoxys grandiflora's huge flower heads -- most of which, by the way, stay oriented to the east. Alpine flowers are a special breed with a special beauty.                                                                                                       

Rydbergia grandiflora
 
Hymenoxys grandiflora. Synonyms: Rydbergia grandiflora, Tetraneuris grandiflora.
(Old Man of the Mountain)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Alpine. Tundra. Summer.
Lizard Head Trail, August 18, 2005.

Hymenoxys grandiflora was first collected for science by John Fremont in the early 1840s in the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming and it was named Actinella grandiflora by Torrey and Gray in 1845.  In 1898 Edward Greene named it Rydbergia grandiflora, and in 1980 K. L. Parker named it Hymenoxys grandiflora. Tetraneuris grandiflora, was also given by Parker.

The genus name, "Hymenoxys", is from the Greek for "membrane" and "sharp", alluding to the sharp pappus scales.

The genus name Rydbergia, accepted by Weber, honors a giant in Colorado botany, Per Axel Rydberg, who wrote Flora of the Rocky Mountains and Adjacent Plains in 1917, but the genus name accepted by almost all other botanists is Hymenoxys. (More biographical information about Rydberg.)

 
Hymenoxys grandiflora. Synonyms: Rydbergia grandiflora, Tetraneuris grandiflora.
(Old Man of the Mountain)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Alpine. Tundra. Summer.
Sharkstooth, July 14, 2006.

Research over the past few decades by Dr. David Inouye with the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in Gothic Colorado, indicates that Hymenoxys grandiflora is a monocarpic plant, i.e., it grows for a number of years without flowering (12-15 years for H. grandiflora), flowers once, and then dies.

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 Hymenoxys grandiflora