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Tonestus pygmaeus

Tonestus pygmaeus

Tonestus pygmaeus

Tonestus pygmaeus

Tonestus pygmaeus (Pygmy Serpentweed)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)
 

Alpine. Tundra. Summer.
Colorado Trail above Hillside Road, August 4, 2014;
Near Jura Knob, July 19, 2013;
Cinnamon Pass, August 1, 2007;
Woods Lake Trail, July 15, 2010.

This common, tiny Sunflower, found only above tree-line, forms small mounds from three to twelve inches in diameter topped with bright flowers.  Leaves are long, narrow, upright, prominently veined, and ciliate (fringed with fine hairs). The plant is found in alpine meadows and on tundra, often in the meager soils collected around rocks. A quick glance might lead you to identifying this as Heterotheca pumila. One of the great joys of botany is constantly being reminded to look and then look again.

"Tonestus" is a meaningless anagram of "Stenotus", another Sunflower genus. John Torrey and Asa Gray named this species Haplopappus pygmaeus. Aven Nelson, who named the Tonestus genus in 1904, renamed this species Tonestus pygmaeus.

Tonestus pygmaeus

Tonestus pygmaeus

Tonestus pygmaeus

Tonestus pygmaeus (Pygmy Serpentweed)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)
 

Alpine. Tundra. Summer.
Top photograph: Sharkstooth Trail, July 30, 2004
; Bottom two photographs: Cinnamon Pass, August 1, 2007.

Ray flowers can be quite straight, as in the top photograph, or curled over.  Leaves are curved inward or flat.  Green phyllaries below the flower head are broad, blunt, and fringed with fine hairs ("ciliate").

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 Tonestus pygmaeus