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See Senecio atratus for a discussion of the differences between Senecio, Ligularia, and Packera.

Click for a photograph of the wonderful Colorado location of S. fremontii variety inexpectatus.

Senecio fremontii variety blitoides
Senecio fremontii variety blitoides (Fremont's Ragwort)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Subalpine, alpine. Scree, shale, openings. Summer.
Sharkstooth Trail, July 30, 2004.

This Senecio forms beautifully symmetrical, rounded clusters to several feet in diameter on bare gravel and rock and on scree slopes.  Its thick, succulent-like leaves vary from bright to light green and from coarsely toothed to deeply incised.  An abundance of bright yellow flowers covers the rounded masses of leaves. 

Some alpine trails traverse extensive patches of hundreds of Senecio fremontii plants.  Since Senecio fremontii is usually above tree-line and often on bare rock, it is quite conspicuous.  It is often found in the company of the similar appearing Packera werneriifolia.

John Charles Fremont, 1813-1890, Army General, explorer, and collector inspired many 19th century Americans with his adventures in the West.  Fremont collected this plant in the Wind River Mountains of present day Montana in 1842 and it was named by John Torrey and Asa Gray in 1843. (More biographical information about Fremont.)  

"Senecio" is from the Latin, "senes", "old man", and refers to the pappus hairs, the tiny bristle, hair, or awn growth at the apex of the seeds in Asteraceae.

Senecio fremontii variety blitoides

Senecio fremontii variety inexpectans

Senecio fremontii variety blitoides (Fremont's Ragwort) and
Senecio fremontii
variety inexpectatus (Fremont's Ragwort)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Subalpine, alpine. Scree, shale, openings. Summer.
Sharkstooth Trail, July 30, 2004.
Below Lizard Head, August 8, 2007.

Ray flower petals sometimes curl, buds are green to maroon, and the edges of the almost succulent leaves are sharply saw-toothed in S. fremontii variety blitoides, the common variety in Colorado.  ("Blitum" is an old genus name for the plant "Strawberry Blite", Chenopodium capitatum, and "oides" is Greek for "similar to".)

The bottom picture at left shows a new Colorado state record, the rare Senecio fremontii variety inexpectatus, previously known only from the La Sal Mountains of southeast Utah.   Leaves of this rare variety are deeply cut, almost to the mid-vein, and often there are sharp teeth. 

Ray flowers in both varieties vary in width about as much as is shown in the two photographs.

Arthur Cronquist, lead author of the Intermountain Flora, named the inexpectatus variety from a specimen that he and Noel Holmgren (also an Intermountain author) collected "along the crest of the ridge leading from Mt. Peale toward Mt. Mellenthin and Mt. Tukuhnkivatz" in the La Sal Mountains near Moab July 9, 1961. 

Cronquist also named S. fremontii variety blitoides in 1955.

Click for a photograph of the wonderful Colorado location of S. fremontii variety inexpectatus that Betty and I discovered.

Senecio fremontii variety blitoides (Fremont's Ragwort)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Subalpine, alpine. Scree, shale, openings. Summer.
Sharkstooth Trail, July 18, 2005.

Senecio fremontii variety blitoides
Senecio fremontii variety blitoides
Senecio fremontii variety blitoides (Fremont's Ragwort)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Subalpine, alpine. Scree, shale, openings. Summer.
Sharkstooth Trail, June 25, 2008 and July 14, 2006.

Young, strongly red-tinged leaves gradually change to green leaves as photosynthesis produces chlorophyll.  Then light green and red-tinged buds will unfold to bright yellow flowers.

Senecio fremontii variety blitoides
Senecio fremontii variety blitoides (Fremont's Ragwort)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Subalpine, alpine. Scree, shale, openings. Summer.
Colorado Trail, September 7, 2007.

The white pappus hairs are ready to carry the seeds on the first strong winds.

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 Senecio fremontii  

Senecio fremontii variety biltoides

Range map for Senecio fremontii variety blitoides

Senecio fremontii variety inexpectans

Range map for Senecio fremontii variety inexpectatus

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