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     Intermountain Flora combines all local members of this genus into one species, T. rhombifolia, with a number of varieties, including Thermopsis rhombifolia variety montana. Weber and the Synthesis of the North American Flora recognize T. montana, T. divaricarpa, and T. rhombifolia as distinct species. Welsh recognizes both T. rhombifolia and T. montana in Utah, noting, however, that Utah specimens of the latter "demonstrate a wide range of variation..., [but] there appears to be no basis for segregation of subordinate taxa".

    Click for Thermopsis rhombifolia.

Thermopsis montana
Thermopsis montana
In early June, Thermopsis montana lines the Bear Creek Trail near the Dolores River.
Thermopsis montana
Thermopsis montana variety montana (Mountain Golden Banner)
Fabaceae (Pea Family)

Montane, subalpine. Woodlands, meadows. Summer.
Top of page: Upper Calico Trailhead, June 26, 2015.
Left: Lower Stoner Mesa Trail, May 25, 2004.

A large colony of tall plants with elongated yellow flower clusters and three-parted leaves is easy to spot and identify; you are looking at the common and lovely Golden Banner. The plants grow quickly after snow melt and by late spring large colonies are in bloom under Aspens. Like so many plants that form large colonies, Golden Banner spreads from underground roots. Thermopsis montana enjoys cool, moist forests and is often surrounded by lush vegetation. 

Thomas Nuttall, famed 19th century collector, taxonomist, and teacher, collected this species in Wyoming in 1834 on the Wyeth Expedition.

Thermopsis montana
Thermopsis montana variety montana (Mountain Golden Banner)
Fabaceae (Pea Family)

Montane, subalpine. Woodlands, meadows. Summer.
Lower Stoner Mesa Trail, May 25, 2004.

Golden Banner is also known as "False Lupine" because the pea-shaped flowers of Golden Banner and Lupine are similar.  The genus name even recognizes this similarity: "thermos" is Greek for "Lupine" and "opsis" is Greek for "similar".

Thermopsis montana
Thermopsis montana variety montana (Mountain Golden Banner)
Fabaceae (Pea Family)

Montane, subalpine. Woodlands, meadows. Summer.
Upper Calico Trailhead, June 26, 2015.

Sepals are a fuzzy mass of hairs.

Thermopsis montana variety montana (Mountain Golden Banner)
Fabaceae (Pea Family)

Montane, subalpine. Woodlands, meadows. Summer.
Bear Creek Trail, July 30, 2005.

Thermopsis montana variety montana (Mountain Golden Banner)
Fabaceae (Pea Family)

Montane, subalpine. Woodlands, meadows. Summer.
Bear Creek Trail, July 30, 2005.

The long, thin, blue/green seed pods project vertically from the stem and are covered with downy hair. The pods grow quickly in the late spring and early summer, and they mature in late summer. In this photograph one can still see the dried, papery floral parts clinging to the seed pods.

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 Thermopsis montana  

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