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Flora of the Four Corners Area
This page contains comments about the botanical book, Flora of the Four Corners Region and general comments about the flora of the entire Four Corners area. As you use the Flora of the Four Corners Region, please email your questions, additions, and corrections to email@example.com. As you explore the Four Corners region, send your observations, new finds, and questions. The purpose of this page is to add to our understanding of and appreciating of the flora of the four corners area.
An enormous amount of field and herbarium work went into the production of the Flora of the Four Corners Region, a flora covering the entire San Juan River drainage. But as the authors of the Flora indicate, there will be
All of the comments on this page are offered in this same positive spirit.
Click for a very favorable review I wrote about the Flora of the Four Corners Region. If I were to write the review again I would add the following:
1) The book covers parts of 15 counties and only two whole counties. When I wrote my review, I missed the very significant problems with structuring a flora this way. If you are in one of the 15 partially covered counties and you try to key a plant using this Flora, you must know if you are in the San Juan River drainage. Since that is often not evident, you probably will not know whether the plant you are looking at is even covered in the Flora.
Split counties must also have caused problems for the authors of the Flora of the Four Corners Region: Authors of floras not only do field research but they also examine herbaria specimens already collected by other botanists. When the authors of the Flora of the Four Corners Region went to herbaria and found a plant that had been collected in, for instance, Archuleta County, Colorado, how did they determine whether that plant was in their study area and to be included in their book? San Juan River drainage boundaries are not on herbaria sheets; counties are the standard entry. Further, exact (or even inexact) coordinates are almost never included in herbaria documentation (especially on plants collected prior to the advent of GPS) and even the name of the county is often missing (certainly it would be missing from collections made before there were counties).
Such problems would have been eliminated had entire counties been covered -- as they are in almost all other floras. See for instance all the floras of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah and the mammoth Flora of North America.
The key point is that standard documentation for herbarium collections includes the county. Plant records in every state are kept on a county by county basis.
2) If you use the online "Catalog of the Four Corners Flora" which was developed by the authors of the Flora of the Four Corners Region and was online for over 10 years, you will find that a significant number of species listed in the Catalog as present in the study area are missing from the Flora of the Four Corners Region. This discrepancy occurred because the "Catalog of the Four Corners Flora" contains plants misidentified by the primary authors and their co-fieldworkers. Other botanists working on the keys and descriptions in the Flora examined the dried specimens presented to them by the lead authors, saw that a number of them were misidentified, and did not include them in the Flora.
Were there other properly identified collections of the purported species that were not presented to the botanists working on the keys and therefore omitted from the Flora? This latter question should be researched by the authors.
NOTE: Authors of floras commonly do the field work but often write few of the keys and descriptions. If you look at the opening page of each family and genus in the Flora of the Four Corners Region you will see the names of the botanists who wrote that section. These were the botanists who looked at herbaria specimens, caught the identification errors, and excluded the misidentified plants from the Flora of the Four Corners Region.
3) Because, as pointed out above, the online plant lists contain misidentified species, the primary authors of the Flora should post on their San Juan College web page (and on this web page) a corrected list of the taxa actually present in their study area. Everyone who used the old incorrect lists would then be able to correct their records.
4) The treatments of families and genera within the Flora is uneven. For instance, some authors of families and genera treatments include the latest botanical research, some do not. Specifically, APG III classification is followed in some families and not in others. The choice for such important matters was left up to the individual botanists doing each set of keys and descriptions.
Making the treatments additionally uneven is the fact that some treatments give subspecies and varieties, others do not.
5) As indicated below (March, 2014), in a random examination of several genera, I found species that were left out of the Flora even though there are vouchers at various herbaria for them. I also found even more species that were left out of some counties, even though there are vouchers for them. Some of these omissions could be due to the boundary line problem discussed in 1), but although that may excuse the omissions, it also makes a stronger case that including only parts of counties is highly confusing.
6) Ken Heil, lead author of the Flora of the Four Corners Region, explains that synonyms are missing from the Index because the publisher, the Missouri Botanical Garden, was only willing to index presently accepted names for taxa found in the text -- no synonyms.
Also, MOBOT gave the lead author only two weeks to supply all of the synonomy for the text. This time constraint meant that a number of synonyms did not make it into the text.
I hope this web page will help all of us better understand, appreciate, and protect the flora of the Four Corners region.
Comments, Corrections, Additions
Email your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
December 10, 2013:
1) The etymology of Botrychium provided by the Flora is:
"from the Latin ‘botry’, meaning a ‘bunch of grapes’, + ‘oides’ meaning ‘like’".
However, there is no “oides” in the word “Botrychium”. The ending “ium” is from the Latin “ion”, a diminutive, thus the meaning is “a bunch of small grapes”.
2) Heil and O'Kane indicate, "In our Flora of the Four Corners Region we have relegated Ephedra cutleri to varietal status as E. viridis var. viscida and we have omitted Yucca harrimaniae from our study area. Several other authors disagree with our treatments and give species status to E. cutleri and they indicate that Yucca harrimaniae is found in our study area".
December 22, 2013:
It is unfortunate that the Flora keys do not provide a way to backtrack when you make a mistake in keying. If, for instance, you arrive at choice #27 in a key and you realize that you are in the wrong place, there is no indication about what number you were at before #27. You cannot easily retrace your steps. Look at Weber and Welsh’s floras; they both provide this thoughtful and time and frustration-saving numbering in brackets [ ].
The glossary omits some necessary entries: inflorescence, villous, limb, spp., sp., ssp., dorsal (but ventral is there!), sori, sporophore, trophophore, etc. Scale, awn, and bristle are not defined sufficiently to assist with keying Asteraceae.
There are no drawings of any species of Allium, Carex, Castilleja, Draba, Gilia, Mertensia, Oenothera, Ranunculus, Senecio, etc. etc.
There should have been a ruler in each drawing. The point of the drawings is not just to look good (which they certainly do) but also to help identify.
December 29, 2013:
p. 728 Synthyris ritteriana (Besseya ritteriana): This plant is not restricted to "near timberline". The plant is common in meadows and openings from 7,500' to near timberline.
January 4, 2014:
p. 900 Amelanchier utahensis: "Shrub up to 3 dm tall...." Certainly not! "Shrub to 3+ meters tall".
p. 177 Artemisia tridentata: Regarding the common names of "Chamiso" and "Chamisa": Typically in the Southwest "Chamiso" is used as a common name for Atriplex canescens (also called "Four-winged Saltbush"). "Chamisa" is used as a common name for Ericameria nauseosus, also called "Rabbitbrush".
However, The Flora of the Four Corners Region lists "Chamiso" as a common name only for Artemisia tridentata. Although that use of "Chamiso" is found in a Google search, you would be hard pressed to find any amateur or professional botanists who have even heard of it, yet alone used it. The Flora of North America does not use the common name "Chamiso" for any of the several varieties of A. tridentata.
"Chamisa" is apparently not used in the Flora of the Four Corners Region for any plant. Neither "Chamisa" nor "Chamiso" is listed in the index.
January 6, 2014:
Click for a new variety of Eriogonum leptophyllum from eastern Arizona.
January 9, 2014:
pp. 708-709 Mimulus suksdorfii: Is also found in Montezuma and Dolores counties, Colorado.
January 10, 2014:
p. 588-599 Phacelia bakeri: The last sentence about vegetation zones is confusing. Insert a semi-colon in the last sentence:
"Talus slopes..., grassy alpine slopes; in sagebrush-grass, spruce, fir.....
Also note that Phacelia glandulosa is very similar to P. bakeri and is to be expected in the Four Corners Region. In fact Heil and O'Kane's "Catalog of the Four Corners Flora" lists P. glandulosa in Rio Grande, Mineral, & San Juan counties, Colorado, but for some reason this species was omitted from the Flora of the Four Corners Region. P. bakeri is primarily a sub-alpine & alpine species but may occur as low as 7,000 feet in Colorado. P. glandulosa is primarily a foothills & montane species and may occur as high as 9,000 feet in Colorado.
January 26, 2014:
p. 140 Asclepias ruthiae: The range is given as "Southeast quarter of Utah and adjacent northern edge of Arizona". To that should be added "and San Juan County, New Mexico".
This addition will necessitate a change in the key
9. Leaves broadly lanceolate.... plants of Utah, Arizona, and northwest corner of New Mexico.
In addition it should be noted that some botanists consider these two species to be the same and lump them as Asclepias uncialis ssp. ruthiae (Maguire) Kartesz & Gandhi ASUNR.
January 31, 2014:
p. 282 Schukuhria multiflora: Range should be extended to include Montezuma County, Colorado. Click to see.
February 28, 2014:
Please note that the online "Catalog of the Four Corners Flora" contains taxa that do not appear in the Flora of the Four Corners Region, i.e., some of the taxa in the list were originally misidentified. Also note that the list has not been updated since 2005. Most taxa listed are known to occur in the collection area, but unfortunately those incorrectly identified are not delineated in any manner.
p. 897 Frangula betulifolia (now Frangula obovata, Nesom and Sawyer). The entry for this species in Flora of the Four Corners Region indicates that Frangula betulifolia is known from La Plata County, Colorado, but no specimens of F. betulifolia collected in La Plata County can be found. There is no evidence that F. betulifolia exists in La Plata county or anywhere else in Colorado.
p. 834 Polemonium brandegeei: Information in the Flora indicates that this species is found in a number of Colorado southern counties. Herbaria specimens of P. brandegeei are from La Plata, Rio Grande, Mineral, and Hinsdale. However, there are no specimens at any herbaria from Montezuma, Archuleta, San Juan, or Conejos counties and these counties were apparently mistakenly included in the Flora.
March 1, 2014:
The "Index" of the Flora of the Four Corners Region does not contain a number of synonyms that are listed in the text. This could lead you to thinking that a taxon is not found in the Flora when it actually is. Whenever you don't find a taxon in the Flora, look for synonyms at BONAP and then look again in Index for the Flora of the Four Corners Region.
March 8, 2014:
Following are some problems I found in the Flora when I randomly picked several genera and checked to see if the Flora correctly showed them as present in the study area. As you use the Flora, please let me know if the same omissions and problems exist with other genera.
The following taxa have vouchers for them from counties in the Flora of the Four Corners Region study area, but the taxa are missing from the Flora. Some omissions may exist because the taxa are found in the county but not in the San Juan River drainage and thus not part of the study area. But some of the vouchers were collected by the authors, so one would expect the taxa to be included in the Flora.
Erigeron glabellus is missing from the Flora but vouchers are present for a number of counties in the study area. According to the botanist doing the treatment for Erigeron in the Flora, these vouchers were misidentified as Erigeron glabellus and that is why this species is not in the Flora.
Erigeron canadensis is treated as Conyza canadensis but Erigeron canadensis is not in the Index even though it is listed in the text as a synonym. The point here is that one should be very careful in assuming that a taxon is not in the Flora just because it is not listed in the Index.
Erigeron elatior is not shown as present in NM, but the authors collected it in the study area. Apparently the collected specimens were incorrectly identified by the authors as Erigeron elatior.
Erigeron engelmannii is missing from the Flora, but there are vouchers collected by the authors in a number of counties in the study area. According to the botanist doing the treatment for Erigeron in the Flora, these vouchers were misidentified.
Erigeron glacialis is not shown as present in NM even though there are vouchers collected by the authors. These vouchers were misidentified. (Also, Erigeron peregrinus [a synonym for E. glacialis] is not in the Index).
Erigeron grandiflorus is not shown as present in NM or Utah, but there are vouchers for NM collected by the authors. These vouchers were misidentified. (Also note that Erigeron simplex [a synonym] is not in the Index).
Erigeron leiomerus is not shown as present in NM. Vouchers collected by the authors show it to be present in Rio Arriba County, NM.
Hydrophyllum capitatum is not shown as present in Montezuma and Conejos counties, but here are vouchers for it at Colorado State University.
Nama dichotum is not shown as present in Rio Arriba County, but there is a voucher for it at Rocky Mountain Herbarium.
Phacelia glandulosa is missing from the Flora. The voucher from San Juan County, Colorado, was collected by the authors but apparently was misidentified by them and therefore omitted from the Flora.
Physaria fendleri is not shown as present in San Juan County, Colorado, but it was collected there by the authors and the treatment in the Flora was done by the authors.
Physaria intermedia is not shown as present in San Juan County, New Mexico (voucher at UNM). It is also present in Rio Arriba, Sandoval, and McKinley counties, NM, collected by the authors but perhaps outside the study area or after the Flora was published.
Physaria kingii ssp. kaibabensis is missing from the Flora but it is present in Apache (collected by the authors) and Navajo counties, Arizona.
Physaria ludoviciana is not shown as present in Montezuma and La Plata counties but was collected there by the authors. It is also not shown in Conejos County, Colorado (voucher at CS) and Rio Arriba County, NM (voucher at UNM).
Physaria pruinosa is present in La Plata County, Colorado.
March 12, 2014:
According to Intermountain Flora:
Clematis hirsutissima var. hirsutissima is found in Conejos County, Colorado [NY].
Rumex densiflorus is found in San Juan County, Colorado [NY].
Eriogonum corymbosum var. revealianum is found in San Juan County, Utah [NY].
Atriplex pachypoda is found in San Juan County, New Mexico [NY] and in La Plata County, Colorado [NY].
Mirabilis glabra is found in San Juan County, Utah.
Opuntia basilaris var. longiareolata is found in San Juan County, Utah.
March 18, 2014:
Following are some additions to the Flora of the Four Corners Region:
Pyrrocoma uniflora La Plata County. New to the flora.
Puccinellia parishii Rio Arriba County.
Lorandersonia baileyi Rio Arriba County.
Penstemon crandallii var. taosensis Rio Arriba County. New to the flora.
Chamaesyce revoluta Rio Arriba County. New to the flora.
Nama dichotomum Rio Arriba County.
Sclerocactus cloveriae subsp. brackii Rio Arriba County.
Chamaesyce missurica Rio Arriba County. New to the flora.
Muhlenbergia depauperata Rio Arriba County.
Drymaria glandulosa McKinley County. New to the flora.
Mollugo subverticillata San Juan County, NM. New to the flora. A weedy plant found in southern NM!
April 13, 2014:
Ken Heil, lead author of the Flora of the Four Corners Region explains that synonyms are missing from the Index because the Missouri Botanical Garden was only willing to list in the Index presently accepted names for those taxa that are found in the Flora. MOBOT would not list synonyms. Also, MOBOT gave the lead author only two weeks to supply all of the synonomy to be included in the text; regrettably this short time resulted in some synonyms being missed.
May 7, 2014:
p. 522 Astragalus ceramicus. Note the description of the pod says, "...bladdery inflated, ellipsoid to glabrous, unilocular...." It should read, "... ellipsoid, strigulous to glabrous, unilocular...."
July 30, 2014:
p. 111 Angelica gray. The range is given as "alpine scree slopes", but this plant is also commonly found in meadows and forest borders from about 11,000 feet upward.
May 11, 2014:
p. 909 Ivesia gordonii is also found at ~12,000 feet near Jura Knob west of the Animas River above Coal Bank Pass.
November 18, 2014:
A voucher for Arnica parryi var. parryi has just been found. After being collected, it was not filed correctly and did not get entered in the Flora of the Four Corners Region for the proper county. The plant was collected in the Chuska Mountains, McKinley County and was annotated by Nesom.