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This page gives characteristics of each plant family and provides links to many species within each family.
To see all the species of a family included on this website, go to the opening page of this website and click the bold blue lettering,
Click any species name below to see photographs, descriptive information, and range maps.
ssp.=subspecies var.=variety APG=Angiosperm Phylogeny Group
NOTES Aceraceae Aceraceae (the Maple Family) has been dissolved and the genus Acer is now in Sapindaceae.
Shrubs and small, perennial, mat-forming herb. The latter with lobed leaves; erect flower stems topped by a box-like structure with five flowers attached, one on top of box and one on each side. Flowers regular and perfect. Flower structure of Adoxa unique in that the number of sepals, stamens, and other floral parts of the top flower are not the same as those on the side flowers. Fruit a dry or moist berry with 4 or 5 nutlets.
The Muskroot Family is also called the Adoxa Family.
Blue Elderberry Red Elderberry Agavaceae
APG places this family in Asparagaceae (Asparagus Family). See below.
APG places this family in Amaryllidaceae (Amaryllis Family). See below.
Weber's Alsinaceae is included in Caryophyllaceae by other botanists. See below.
Herbs, rarely subshrubs, annual or perennial. Stems without nodal spines. Leaves alternate or opposite, usually petiolate; blade margins entire. Inflorescence cymules arranged in spikes, panicles, thyrses, heads, glomerules, clusters, or racemes; each flower subtended by 1 bract and 2 bracteoles. Flowers bisexual or unisexual (plants then monoecious or dioecious), generally small or minute; tepals mostly (1-)4-5 or absent, distinct or connate into cups or tubes; stamens 2-5, anthers 2-locular with 1 line of dehiscence or 4-locular with 2 lines of dehiscence; ovary superior; ovules 1 or, rarely, 2 - many; style 1 or absent; stigmas 1-3(-5). Fruits utricles, dry, dehiscent or not. Seeds black, reddish brown, or brown.
Chenopodiaceae is now included in Amaranthaceae.
Four-Winged Saltbush Shadscale Lamb's Quarters Siltbush Spiny Hopsage Winterfat Nuttall's Poverty Weed Green Molly Mancos Shadscale Tumbleweed Tumbleweed
Mostly perennials from bulbs. Leaves two-ranked. The leaves are simple rather fleshy and two-ranked with parallel veins. Leaf shape may be linear, strap like, oblong, elliptic, lanceolate or filiform. The leaves which are either grouped at the base or arranged alternatively on the stem, may be sessile or petiolate. The flowers, which are bisexual, are radially symmetrical, pedicellate or sessile, and are typically arranged in umbels at the apex of leafless flowering stems, or scapes and associated with a thread like bract. The perianth consists of six undifferentiated tepals arranged in two whorls of three. The inflorescence is scapose, umbellate, cymose. Inflorescence bracts 2 or more. There are six stamens arranged in two whorls of three. Style long, stigma dry. The fruit is dry and capsule-shaped, or fleshy and berrylike. Onions produce allyl sulfide compounds which give them their characteristic smell. (Details mostly quoted from Wikipedia.) Taper-tip Onion Nodding Onion Geyer's Onion Geyer's Onion Large-petaled Onion Nevada Onion Textile Onion
Primarily shrubs and trees, usually compound leaves. Flowers perfect or imperfect, regular, small in terminal clusters. Sepals 3-5, petals 3-5 or lacking. Stamens 5 or 10, pistil 1. Generally fleshy fruits (drupes) with one chamber and one seed. Many, as in the case of Toxicodendron rydbergii, produce Urushiol, an irritant. This family includes several species (Cashew, Pistachio, Mango) of economic importance. The Sumac Family is also called the Cashew Family. Aromatic Sumac Smooth Sumac Poison Ivy
Annual, biennial, or perennial herbs. Leaves usually divided several times. Flowers mostly regular and perfect. Sepals 5 or lacking; petals 5, small. Stamens 5, pistil 1. Fruits large or small, round or long and pendant, horizontal, or vertical. Members of this large and very frequently encountered family often have flat-topped, pancake shaped flower clusters (umbels) sometimes quite small, sometimes eight inches in diameter. Distinctive Parsley smell, especially when foliage or seeds are crushed. Some Parsley Family species in our area are very visible: Ligusticum porteri; some are easily overlooked: Oreoxis alpina; some are deadly: Cicuta maculata. "Umbelliferae" is an accepted alternate scientific name for this family and it is used by Stanley Welsh in his A Utah Flora.
The Parsley Family is also called the Carrot, Umbel, or Celery Family.
Pinnate Angelica Water Hemlock Hemlock Parsley Fendler's Biscuitroot Mountain Parsley Newberry's Biscuitroot Purple Biscuitroot Turpentine Biscuitroot Cow Parsnip Loveroot Giant Lomatium Gray's Biscuitroot Canyonlands Biscuitroot Least Lomatium Parry's Biscuitroot Nine-leaf Lomatium Alpine Parsley Baker's Alpine Parsley Turkeypea, Indian Potato Mountain Sweet Cicely Dwarf Sweet Cicely Western Sweet Cicely Cowbane Eastwood's Woodroot Spring Biscuitroot Wide-winged Biscuitroot
Annual, perennial herb, shrub, tree, often vine; sap generally milky. Leaf: simple, alternate, opposite, subwhorled to whorled, entire; stipules 0 or small, finger-like. Inflorescence: axillary or terminal, cyme, generally umbel- or raceme-like, or flowers 1–2. Flower: bisexual, radial; perianth parts, especially petals, overlapped, twisted to right or left, at least in bud; sepals generally 5, fused at base, often reflexed, persistent; petals generally 5, fused in basal ± 1/2; stamens generally 5, attached to corolla tube or throat, alternate lobes, free or fused to form filament column and anther head, filament column then generally with 5 free or fused, ± elaborate appendages abaxially, pollen ± free or removed in pairs of pollinia; nectaries 0 or near ovaries, then 2 or 5, or in stigmatic chambers; ovaries 2, superior or ± so, free [fused]; style tips, stigmas generally fused into massive pistil head. Fruit: 1–2 follicles, (capsule), [berry, drupe]. Seed: many, often with tuft of hairs at 1 or both ends. (From Jepson eFlora.) Amsonia, Bluestar Dogbane Dogbane, Indian Hemp Antelope-horn Milkweed Pallid Milkweed Asclepias cutleri Cutler's Milkweed Big Seed Milkweed Showy Milkweed Whorled Milkweed Butterfly Weed Asclepiadaceae Asclepias is now in Apocynaceae (Dogbane Family).
The APG Missouri Botanical Garden website has this to say about Asparagaceae: "This is a highly unsatisfactory family. Nothing characterises it, and while some of the subfamilies have several distinctive apomorphies and are also easy to recognise, others are difficult to recognise. The flowers of the whole group are for the most part a rather undistinguished "lily"-type, and quite often are rather small. Asparagoideae, and especially Nolinoideae and Agavoideae, are very heterogeneous, several families having been segregated from them in the past". Sand Lily Sand Lily Solomon's Plume Maianthemum stellatum Star Lily Triteleia grandiflora Wild Hyacinth Narrow Leaf Yucca Bailey's Narrow Leaf Yucca Broad Leaf Yucca Harriman's Narrow Leaf Yucca
These ferns grow in rocks or on trees, usually with erect stems. Leaves are monomorphic, from just 1 centimeter to over 3 meters long, with simple to pinnate blades, frequently with minute glandular hairs. Sori are borne on veins. Many species in this family hybridize. The family has about 700 species (many grown as houseplants) world-wide. Grass Fern Maidenhair Spleenwort
Asteraceae is the largest plant family in North America with over 400 genera and 2,400 species. In the world there are about 1,900 genera; various sources place the number of species from 23,000 to 35,000, with recent publications showing a number near that the latter being most likely. The origin of Asteraceae is about 83 million years ago in the late Cretaceous and the family underwent a series of explosive radiations and diversification rates during the Eocene. Similar members of families are grouped and those in Asteraceae are grouped into 12 subfamilies and about 43 tribes. In the United States there are 25 tribes, the largest of which are the Astereae Tribe (Aster Tribe) with such related genera as Solidago, Grindelia, Chrysothamnus, Townsendia, and Erigeron; the Heliantheae Tribe (Sunflower Tribe) with such related genera as Encelia, Helianthus, Helianthella, Rudbeckia, Wyethia, and Heliomeris; and the Senecioneae Tribe (Groundsel Tribe) with such related genera as Tetradymia, Packera, Senecio, and Ligularia. The Four Corners region has 10 tribes: Anthemideae, Astereae, Cardueae, Eupatorieae, Helinatheae, Inuleae, Lactuceae, Mutisieae, Senecioneae, and Vernonieae. Volume 5 of Intermountain Flora has a key to the tribes on pages 14-15.
Asteraceae is made up of shrubs and herbs with inconspicuous to showy flower heads that appear to be one flower but are actually a composite of a number of flowers.
Flower heads are made up of four different types of tiny flowers (often called "florets") with cylindrical corollas:
1) Flower heads having only ligulate florets (often called "ray florets") with every corolla having one prominent, narrow, arching petal appendage (called "ligule", often called a "ray") which is actually a fusion of five petals (note the five lobes at the tip). Example: Taraxacum species (Dandelions).
2) Flower heads having only disk florets with almost all corollas having 5 small lobes but having no elongated petal. Example: Cirsium species (Thistles).
3) Flower heads with disk florets (packed together in the center of the flower head) surrounded by ray florets (very similar to ligulate florets (#1 above) but each narrow, arching petal-like structure most often has three lobes, not five). Example: Hymenoxys hoopesii (Sneezeweed).
4) Flower heads are similar to those in 3), but in addition to the three-lobed ray, there is a very short two-lobed ray on the opposite side of the corolla. Few Asteraceae species (none on this website and only a few in the Four Corners region) have this configuration.
Ligulate and ray florets may number from few to dozens. Disk florets are often in the many dozens.
Disk florets may be bisexual and fertile or may have only functional stamens. Rarely they are sterile.
Ray florets are usually pistillate, i.e., they lack stamens. They are sometimes sterile.
Ligulate florets have functional stamens and a fertile pistil.
Fruit is an achene (better named, "Cypselae"), a one-chambered dry, hard fruit varying considerably in size. For more details see Disk Flower.
The term, "Compositae" (used in A Utah Flora) is an accepted, but now uncommonly used, alternate name for this family.
The family has a number of common names: Sunflower, Aster, Daisy, or Composite Family.
There are approximately 200 Asteraceae on this website, i.e., about 20% of all species are Asteraceae. Worldwide Asteraceae comprise about 10% of all plants.
Fragrant Snakeweed Mountain Dandelion Mountain Dandelion Pearly Everlasting Flat-top Pussytoes Cushion Pussytoes White-margined Pussytoes Rocky Mountain Pussytoes Red Pussytoes Heartleaf Arnica Broadleaf Arnica Soft Arnica Parry's Arnica Rydberg's Arnica Bigelow's Sagebrush Northern Sagewort Carruth's Sagewort Wild Tarragon Sand Sagebrush Ragweed Sagebrush Fringed Sagewort Silvery Sagewort Black Sagebrush Alpine Sagewort Big Sagebrush Arrowleaf Balsamroot Large-flowered Bricklebush Small-leaf Bricklebush Bricklebush Musk Thistle Alpine Chaenactis Douglas' Chaenactis Esteve's Chaenactis Sand Aster Chamaechaenactis scaposa Fullstem Low Rabbitbrush, Chamisa Chicory Arizona Thistle Canada Thistle New Mexican Thistle Parry's Thistle Meadow Thistle Alpine Thistle Tracy's Thistle Gray Hawksbeard Western Hawksbeard Saw-toothed Hawksbeard Bigelow's Tansy Aster Gray Tansy Aster Sticky Brittlebush Rubber Rabbitbrush Parry's Rabbitbrush Abajo Daisy
With 28 species on this website, the Erigeron genus is second to the 31 Astragalus species. Penstemon has 22 species and Eriogonum 16.
Rayless Fleabane Silvery Daisy Erigeron bellidiastrum Pretty Daisy Gray Daisy (Fleabane) Composite Daisy (Fleabane) Hairy Daisy (Fleabane) Coulter's Daisy Spreading Fleabane Eaton's Daisy Tall Daisy (Fleabane) Splendid Daisy (Fleabane) Whiplash Daisy Beautiful Daisy Glacier Daisy (Fleabane) Large-flowered Daisy (Fleabane) Rockslide Daisy Lance-leaf Daisy Blackheaded Daisy Cut-leaved Daisy (Fleabane) Beautiful Daisy Showy Daisy Showy Daisy Tracy's Daisy (Fleabane) Utah Daisy Engelmann's Aster Euphrosyne acerosa Copperweed Blanketflower Cut-leaf Blanketflower Arizona Gumweed Hairy Gumweed Curly Gumweed Lone Mesa Snakeweed This is a new species that
Peggy Lyon and I discovered.
Small Head Snakeweed Broom Snakeweed Small Head Sunflower Parry's Sunflower Five-nerved Sunflower Common Sunflower Goldeneye Waxy Aster Dwarf Golden Aster Hairy Golden Aster Zion Golden Aster
NOTES Fendler's Hawkweed Woolly Hawkweed Threadleaf Sunflower Wild Cosmos Bahia Old Man of the Mountains Orange Sneezeweed Many-flowered Jimmyweed Rusbyi's Jimmyweed Ox-eye Daisy Large-flowered Rushpink Large-flowered Rushpink Rush-like Rushpink Desert Dandelion Parry's Goldenweed Oxytenia acerosa Copperweed Saffron Packera Two Leaf Groundsel Mancos Shale Packera This is a new species that
Betty and I discovered.
Many-lobed Packera New Mexico Groundsel Streambank Packera Rocky Mountain Groundsel Werner's Groundsel Lemonscent Rock Goldenrod Picradeniopsis multiflora Threadleaf Spiny Sagebrush Basin Daisy Paper Flower Goldenweed Rhaponticum repens Russian Knapweed Golden Glow Desert Mule's Ears Viper Grass Showy Ragwort Holm's Ragwort Black-tipped Ragwort Fremont's Ragwort Nodding Ragwort Thick-leaf Ragwort Lonely Ragwort Thread-leaf Ragwort Fremont's Ragwort Lamb's Tongue Ragwort Serrated Ragwort Broom Ragwort Triangular Ragwort Wooton's Ragwort Rocky Mountain Goldenrod Dwarf Goldenrod Sticky Goldenrod Velvet Goldenrod Ring Grass Stephanomeria exigua var. exigua Whiteplume Wirelettuce Few-flowered Wirelettuce Slender-leaf Wirelettuce Heather Aster Sickle Aster Symphyotrichum foliaceum variety canbyi Leafy Aster Symphyotrichum spathulatum Spatula Aster Taraxacum eriophorum Alpine Dandelion Dandelion Taraxacum ovinum Alpine Dandelion Gray Horsebrush Cat-claw Horsebrush Stemless Woolly Base Perky Sue
Torrey's Four-nerved Daisy Pygmy Serpentweed Annual Townsendia Oyster Bed Townsendia Easter Daisy Delicate Townsendia Rothrock's Townsendia Common Salsify Meadow Salsify Crownbeard Arizona Mule's Ears Mule's Ears Colorado Tansy Aster Saw-toothed Goldenweed Woolly Goldenweed
Shrubs with yellow wood and inner bark. Leaves alternate, simple or compound. Flowers perfect, regular, in clusters. Sepals and petals similar appearing, commonly each in two sets of three. Stamens 6, pistil 1. Fruits dry or fleshy berry. Fendler's Barberry Barberry Oregon Grape
Shrubs and trees with alternate and simple serrated leaves. Male inflorescence is spreading or pendulous catkin while female inflorescence (on same tree) is in clusters, spikes, or typically, catkins. 2 to many stamens, styles 2. Fruit is a 1-seeded nut. Catkins open at maturity and tiny winged-seeds float on breeze. Dried catkin persists. Alnus incana is very common along streams. Alder Water Birch Western Hophornbeam
Herbaceous or shrubby. Leaves entire and often hairy. Flowers perfect, regular, often small, single or in clusters, frequently coiled and uncurling as flowers mature. Floral parts commonly in 5s, stamens 5, style 1. Fruits commonly breaking into 4 single-seeded lobes. Identification based on structure of fruit. Family has several very attractive and abundant species. Various Mertensia species are very common in the Rockies.
The Forget-Me-Not Family is also called the Borage Family.
Thick-sepal Cat's Eye Weber moved many Cryptantha into Oreocarya and this split is now widely accepted. Little Cat's Eye Winged-nut Cat's Eye Hound's Tongue Hackelia floribunda Hackel's Stickseed Fendler's Waterleaf Redowski's Stickseed Fringed Gromwell Puccoon Field Puccoon Fringed Bluebells Franciscan Bluebells Mertensia fusiformis Spindle-rooted Bluebells Lance-leaf Bluebells Howell's Nama Yellow Cryptantha Weber moved many Cryptantha into Oreocarya and this split is now widely accepted. Little Yellow Cat's Eye Gray Cat's Eye Humble Cat's Eye Marvelous Cat's Eye Reveal's Cat's Eye Oreocarya suffruticosa variety pustulosa Shrubby Cat's Eye Slender Cat's Eye Phacelia bakeri Baker's Phacelia Crenulated Phacelia Glandular Phacelia Varied-leaf Phacelia Whole Phacelia Ives' Phacelia Silky Phacelia Bristly Popcorn Flower Crinklemat
Very large family of annual to perennial herbs or small shrubs, often with pungent, watery juice. Leaves alternate, simple to compound. Flowers perfect, regular (or nearly so), 4 petaled in the form of a cross, 4 sepals, and 6 stamens (outer 2 shorter than other 4). Ovary usually 2 chambered, sometimes 1, with a thin partition. Long and narrow or relatively round fruit typically splits open at maturity. Family includes kale, cabbage, broccoli, and turnips.
"Cruciferae" is an accepted, but infrequently used, alternate name for this family. Stanley Welsh (author of A Utah Flora) calls this family "Cruciferae" not "Brassicaceae".
Wild Alyssum Rockcress Lemmon's Rockcress Drummond's Rockcress Shepherd's Purse Heartleaf Bittercress Purple Mustard Mountain Tansy Mustard Blunt Tansy Mustard Flixweed Spectacle Pod Golden Draba Brewer's Draba Thick-leaf Draba Snowbed Draba Fladnitz Draba Grass-like Draba Showy Draba Twisted Draba Western Wallflower Lens Pod Pepperwort Whitetop Hairy Pod Pepperwort Western Peppergrass Water Cress Wild Candytuft Double Bladderpod Fendler's Bladderpod Cushion Bladderpod Straight Bladderpod Sac-like Bladderpod Alpine Yellowcress Jim Hill Mustard Flaxleaf Mustard American Smelowsky Prince's Plume Little Twistflower Heartleaf Twistflower African Mustard Durango Tumble Mustard Entire-leaf Thelypody Loose-flowered Thelypody Wedge-leaf Stonecress Whitlow Grass
Perennial succulent or herbaceous. Distinctive fleshy flattened, cylindric, or globose stems; leaves modified to be needle-like spines; areoles give rise to tiny sharp hairs, spines, branches, or flowers. Flowers perfect, regular, often bright and large with many overlapping petals and sepals. Numerous attractive stamens; 1 often massive style. Fruit (often edible and choice) is a dry or fleshy many-seeded berry. Identification of species often based on vegetative rather than floral features and sometimes difficult because plants hybridize. Several species of several genera are quite common at lower elevations. Cholla Cholla Fendler's Hedgehog Cactus Claret Cup Cactus,
Missouri Pincushion Pincushion Cactus Potato Cactus Prickly Pear Cactus Prickly Pear Cactus Simpson's Pincushion Cactus Clover's Fishhook Cactus Gray Fishhook Cactus Mesa Verde Fishhook Cactus Fishhook Cactus Calochortaceae
Included in Liliaceae.
Herbs, usually with milky juice. Leaves alternate and simple. Bell-shaped regular or irregular, usually perfect flowers, 5-lobed with 5 sepals, 5 stamens, 1 style. Fruit is a capsule. Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia) is very common and very well known. Parry's Harebell Harebell
Tree, shrub, or erect or twining perennial herb; wind pollinated; epidermis with stiff hairs; leaves with petioles, simple, unlobed or palmately lobed or compound; inflorescence parts 4-6, free or fused, superior ovary, 2 slender, plumose stigmas; fruit is a drupe or achene. Hackberry Capparaceae Cleome and Cleomella are now in Cleomaceae, but Capparaceae still is an accepted family.
Herb, shrub, woody vine, or small tree with opposite leaves that are simple or compound. Flowers regular or irregular, perfect, arranged in clusters, with 5 petals fused into a trumpet-like shape, 4 or 5 lobed. 4 or 5 stamens, 1 pistil. Fruit a berry, drupe, or capsule. Several genera are very common and well-known. Snowberry (Symphoricarpos spp.) covers extensive acreage under Aspens; Honeysuckle is known across the country. Linnaeus' Twinflower Twinberry Snowberry Snowberry Valerian Valeriana occidentalis Edible Valerian
Large family of annual or perennial herbs with opposite, entire, simple leaves arising from swollen node. Flowers usually perfect, regular, with 4-5 or no petals, 4 or 5 sepals; 4-10 stamens -- often twice the number of sepals, 1 pistil. 1, 3, or 5-chambered capsule fruit. Many very common plants ranging from Chickweeds (Cerastium and others) to Moss campion (Silene acaulis).
Weber places some Caryophyllaceae in Alsinaceae, a family not accepted by other botanists.
Woolly Chickweed Weber places Arenaria in Alsinaceae. Mouse-eared Chickweed Alpine Sandwort Formerly Minuartia. Ball Head Sandwort Weber places Eremogone in Alsinaceae. Fendler's Sandwort Weber places Eremogone in Alsinaceae. King's Sandwort Large-leaf Sandwort Tuber Starwort Weber places Pseudostellaria
Moss Campion Large-flower Sandwort Formerly Minuartia. Red Sandwort Formerly Minuartia. Sleepy Catchfly Drummond's Catchfly Menzies' Catchfly Sand Spurrey Weber places Spergularia in Alsinaceae. Colorado Starwort Weber places Stellaria in Alsinaceae. Long-leaf Starwort Long-stalked Starwort Umbrella Starwort
Herbs and shrubs with alternate or opposite leaves, simple. Flowers perfect, regular, some inconspicuous, 4 or 5 sepals and petals, 4 or 5 or 8-10 stamens and usually 1 pistil. Fruit a capsule. Mountain Lover (Paxistima myrsinites) is a common, but usually unnoticed, ground-cover or small shrub. Fringed Grass of Parnassus Small Grass of Parnassus Mountain Lover Chenopodiaceae Chenopodiaceae has been dissolved and most genera are now in Amaranthaceae.
Annual, perennial herb, shrub, often ill-smelling. Leaf: generally 1-palmate, generally alternate, generally petioled; stipules generally minute, often bristle-like or hairy; leaflets 0 or 3–7. Inflorescence: raceme, head, or flowers 1, expanded in fruit; bracts generally 3-parted below, simple above, or 0. Flower:generally bisexual, radial to ± bilateral; sepals generally 4, free or fused, generally persistent; petals generally 4, free, ± clawed; stamens generally 6, free, exserted, anthers generally coiling at dehiscence; ovary superior, generally on stalk-like receptacle, chamber generally 1, placentas generally 2, parietal, style 1, persistent, stigma generally minute, ± head-like. Fruit: 2 nutlets or generally capsule, septicidal; valves generally 2, deciduous, leaving septum (frame-like placentas) behind; pedicel generally ± reflexed to spreading. (From Jepson eFlora.) Palmer's Bee Plant Yellow Beeplant Rocky Mountain
Herbaceous perennials. Leaves alternate, narrow, distinctly parallel-veined. Flowers perfect, showy, parts in 3s. Stamens 6 in 2 series, style 1. Seeds small. Exotic Spiderwort (Tradescantia occidentalis) is always a treat to find. Dayflower Spiderwort Convallariaceae
Weber's Convallariaceae is included in Liliaceae or Asparagaceae by other botanists.
Morning Glory Family
Annual or perennial herbs, vines, or shrubs. Leaves simple or compound, alternate, entire or lobed. Funnel-shaped flowers are solitary or in groups. 5 stamens, 1 pistil. Fruit is a capsule with one to several seeds. Bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis) is known to anyone who has ever looked at the ground. Bindweed
Shrubs and small trees as well as herbs with entire or serrate, simple, opposite or whorled leaves with obvious veins. Flowers regular, perfect or imperfect, usually white, with 4 or 5 showy, small, or non-existent sepals and 4 or 5 small or distinct petals. Fruit is a drupe with 1 or 2 seeds. Red-osier Dogwood (Cornus alba) is very common along streambanks. Red-Osier Dogwood Red-Osier Dogwood
Perennials and annuals, succulent. Alternate or opposite, simple, fleshy leaves. Flowers perfect or imperfect, regular, in clusters or solitary. 4 or 5 sepals separate or united, 4 or 5 separate petals. Stamens 4, 8, or 10; pistils 4 or 5. Fruit a follicle. Sedum lanceolatum is widespread and found from foothills to alpine. Yellow Stonecrop Yellow Stonecrop Rose Crown, Queen's Crown King's Crown Rose Crown, Queen's Crown
Shrub, small tree. Stem: generally glabrous; branchlets or twigs generally thorny. Leaf: generally deciduous, simple, generally small, generally alternate, entire; stipules minute or 0. Inflorescence: flowers 1. Flower: generally bisexual, radial; hypanthium short; sepals, petals generally 5(3–6), free; petals generally white, ephemeral; stamens 4–50, on or around disk; pistils 1–9, simple, styles short, stigmas head-like, ovules generally 2–many. Fruit: follicles, 1–9. Seed: brown to black. (From Jepson eFlora.) Greasebush Greasebush
Ancient family. Shrubs or trees commonly resinous and aromatic. Leaves are evergreen, overlapping scale-like, or needle-like. Male cones are small; female cones with 1 to several seeds are much larger and dry or fleshy at maturity. Rocky Mountain juniper (Juniperus scopulorum) is widespread through the Rockies. Junipers are commonly and incorrectly called "Cedars". True Cedars, the genus Cedrus, are actually in the Pine Family. Cedar fence posts, cedar chests, and cedar firewood are all actually Juniper.
The family is sometimes also called Cedar Family but it is not related to Cedars.
Common Juniper Alligator Juniper One-seed Juniper Utah Juniper Rocky Mountain Juniper Cypripediaceae
Cypripediaceae is included in Orchidaceae.
Up Bar Dennstaedtiaceae
Bracken Fern Family
These ferns mostly grow on land in moist forests. Stems are short-to-long creeping and are usually hairy. Leaves are mostly monomorphic with a pinnate blade that can be glabrous or hairy. The sori are near or at the blade margin. This is primarily a tropical family with about 400 species world-wide. Bracken Bracken Fern
Dryopteridaceae Wood Fern Family
This is a rock and ground growing fern with creeping or erect stems and pinnate leaves that can be monomorphic or dimorphic (monomorphic in our area). Sori are on the veins in our area but may in other areas be at the vein tips. This is a very large fern family with 60 genera and over 3,000 species world wide. Cystopteris fragilis Brittle Fern Cystopteris reevesiana Reeves' Brittle Fern Male Fern Holly Fern
Shrub or trees, commonly thorny, with simple leaves coated with very showy scales or hairs (observable with a hand lens). Flowers perfect or imperfect, regular, small but clustered in large numbers. Perianth 4-lobed. 4-8 stamens, 1 pistil. Fruit is hard dry seed enclosed in often edible fleshy growth which provides significant food for birds, bears, raccoons. Several family members, such as, Buffaloberry (Shepherdia argentea), are moisture loving. Russian Olive Silver Buffaloberry Canada Buffaloberry Round Leaf Buffaloberry
Dioecious shrubs of a single genus; branches green to olive green, opposite or whorled; leaves scalelike, opposite or whorled; seeds angled to terete. Very common in high desert. Cutler's Mormon Tea Torrey's Mormon Tea Green Mormon Tea
One of the most ancient land plants. Perennial, stems annual or perennial, typically hollow, jointed, ribbed. Leaves small and scale-like. Spores numerous. Horsetails (Equisetum arvense) are common from lower foothills to mid-montane. Field Horsetails Scouring Rush Equisetum laevigatum Smooth Scouring Rush Scouring Rush
Shrubby or herbaceous perennials, evergreen or deciduous, often leathery leaves. Flowers often waxy, fragrant, perfect, regular or irregular, in terminal clusters. 4 or 5 petals and sepals, 8- 10 stamens, 1 pistil. Fruit a capsule or berry. Plants often in small patches. Single delight (Moneses uniflora) is indeed a delight to find. Several species are very common and very well known: Kinnikinick (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) and Blueberry (Vaccinium spp). The latter rarely produces fruit in our area. The Heath Family is found in mountain regions around the world.
Ericaceae includes all former species of Pyrolaceae.
Manzanita Kinnikinick, Bear Berry Single Delight One-sided Wintergreen Pinedrops Pink Wintergreen Green-flowered Wintergreen Small Wintergreen Variegated Wintergreen Blueberry Ubiquitous ground cover in Spruce forests.
Annual or perennial herbs, shrubs, or trees. Some members have stems containing an irritating or poisonous milky sap. Leaves simple or in 3s. Flowers imperfect, petals distinct or commonly lacking. Stamens 1 to many, pistil 1. Fruit usually a 2 or 3-valved capsule. Several species very common at low elevations. Shorthorn spurge (Euphorbia lurida) is found from low to montane elevations. The family has evolved very unusual floral characteristics. Shorthorn Spurge Fendler's Spurge Carved Seed Spurge Thyme-leaf Spurge
Members of this very large, diverse family are typically perennial herbs with alternate, compound leaves and distinctive flowers commonly comprised of an upper, somewhat vertical, enlarged petal (banner), 2 side petals (wings), and 2 partially fused lower petals (keel) between the wings. Fruits are usually legumes with 2 alternate rows of seeds. Roots commonly with numerous tiny nodules containing nitrogen-fixing bacteria. This is the family of Alfalfa (Medicago sativa); Astragalus (Astragalus alpinus) -- one of the largest genera of all plants; Lupines (Lupinus argenteus); and Clovers (Trifolium pratense). Some legumes are edible; some, such as the selenium absorbing Astragalus, are poisonous -- and known as "Locoweed".
"Leguminosae" is an accepted, but infrequently used, alternate name for this family. Stanley Welsh (author of A Utah Flora) calls this family "Leguminosae" not "Fabaceae". The Pea Family is also known as the Bean or Legume Family.
Deer Vetch a With 31 species, the Astragalus genus is the most numerous on this website.
Erigeron has 28, Penstemon 22, and Eriogonum 16.
Astragalus are commonly known as Vetch, Milkvetch, Locoweed, or Pea. Astragalus are commonly known as Vetch, Milkvetch, Locoweed, or Pea. a Astragalus are commonly known as Vetch, Milkvetch, Locoweed, or Pea. Silvery Dalea Wild Licorice Northern Chainpod Western Chainpod Lanszwert's Sweetpea Utah Sweetpea Silvery Lupine Short-stemmed Lupine Lupinus caespitosus Matted Lupine King's Lupine Choke-cherry Lupine Small Lupine Black Medic Alfalfa Yellow Sweet Clover Sain Foin Alpine Reclining Locoweed Silky Reclining Locoweed Lambert's Locoweed Parry's Locoweed Indian Breadroot Robinia neomexicana New Mexico Locust Silvery Sophora Mountain Golden Banner Golden Banner Rocky Mountain Trifolium Brandegee's Trifolium Shaggy Leaf Trifolium Holly leaf Trifolium Long-stalked Trifolium Dwarf Trifolium Parry's Trifolium Red Clover White Clover American Vetch
Deciduous trees or shrubs with alternate, lobed leaves. Flowers imperfect but on same plant. Male flowers in long, slender catkins; female flowers solitary or in threes at twig tips. Fruit is a nut, an acorn. Gambel's Oak (Quercus gambelii), found throughout the Southwest, is highly variable in leaf shape, height, etc., probably because of hybridization.
Gambel's Oak The Beech Family is also
known as the Oak Family.
Frankenia Fumariaceae APG places this family in Papaveraceae (Poppy Family).
Annual, biennial, or perennial herbs, stems smooth, leaves usually opposite or whorled, simple, entire. Flowers perfect, regular, solitary or in clusters, often tubular. Calyx 2-5 lobed, corolla 4 or 5 lobed. Stamens 4 or 5 alternating with corolla lobes. Pistil 1. Fruit a 2-valved capsule. This is a small family with many showy and well-known species in the U.S. and world-wide. Fringed Gentian (Gentianopsis thermalis) is a favorite of many flower lovers. White-margined Frasera Utah Frasera Monument Plant Arctic Gentian Bottle Gentian Parry's Mountain Gentian Siberian Gentian Little Gentian Little Gentian Little Fringed Gentian Fringed Gentian Star Gentian
Annual or perennial herbs. Leaves usually have a distinct smell, opposite or alternate, simple or often compound. Showy flowers perfect, mostly regular, with 5 sepals and petals. Stamens 5 or 10, pistil 1. Fruit is usually long and narrow (like a Crane's bill), dry with 1 seed per chamber curling upon opening. Showy flowers, large leaves, and distinctive seed pods make these plants fairly easy to identify. Wild Geranium (Geranium richardsonii) is very common over a broad range of elevations; Filaree (Erodium cicutarium), at one time considered non-native, is even more widely distributed. Filaree Wild Purple Geranium Wild Geranium Sticky Geranium
Shrubs with or without bristles, alternate and usually palmately lobed leaves. Flowers perfect, regular, 5-parted and arranged in clusters at ends of branches. Fruits are fleshy and berry-like and almost always tasty. Mountain currant (Ribes montigenum) profusely flowers and produces large crops of berries.
Also called Gooseberry Family and placed in Saxifrage Family by some botanists.
Golden Currant The Gooseberry Family is also
known as the Currant Family.
Wax Currant Colorado Currant Whiskey Currant Trailing Currant Mountain Currant Wolf's Currant Helleboraceae
Weber's Helleboraceae is included in Ranunculaceae by other botanists. Hippuridaceae Mare's Tail is now in Plantaginaceae.
Mostly shrubs with opposite leaves and showy, fragrant, white flowers with parts in fours. Fruits persistent and evident. Cliff Fendlerbush (Fendlera rupicola) turns the foothills snowy white in late May. Cliff Fendler Bush Mock Orange Hydrophyllaceae
St. Johnswort Family
Annual to shrub [tree]. Leaf: cauline, simple, opposite or whorled, often gland-dotted; stipules 0. Inflorescence: cyme, panicle, or flower 1, terminal or axillary. Flower: bisexual, radial; sepals persistent, generally 5, often fused at base, overlapping; petals generally 5, free; stamens generally many, free or ± fused into 3–5 clusters; pistil 1, ovary superior, chambers 1–3, placentas generally axile, style branches 3. Fruit: capsule, generally septicidal. Seed: many, small. (From Jepson eFlora.) St. Johnswort
Rhizomatous herbs. Leaves mainly basal, linear. Flowers showy, solitary or few. Perianth segments 6, stamens 3, style branches 3. Fruit a large capsule. Missouri iris (Iris missouriensis) fills snow-watered meadows with delicate blue. Wild Iris Blue-eyed Grass
Perennial herbs of marshes and wet meadows. Leaves linear. Flowers perfect or imperfect, regular, in a spike. Floral parts in 6s. Fruit a capsule. Arrowgrass (Triglochin maritima) can be abundant in marshy areas. Arrowgrass
Often aromatic annual or perennial herbs or shrubs, usually with square stems. Leaves simple, opposite (rarely whorled). Flowers perfect, mostly irregular, in clusters. 5 fused petals and sepals . Stamens 4, pistil 1. Fruits are multi-capsuled. Plants often aromatic and showy. Beebalm (Monarda fistulosa) is often grown as a garden plant and numerous species (peppermint, basil, thyme, marjoram, oregano) flavor our cooking.
"Labiatae" is an accepted, but rarely used, alternate name for this family. Stanley Welsh (author of A Utah Flora) calls this family "Labiatae" not "Lamiaceae".
Giant Hyssop Wild Basil Dragonhead Pennyroyal Marrubium vulgare Horehound Mint Aromatic Little Monarda Gray Mint Self-heal Skullcap
Herbaceous, aquatic, often carnivorous perennials. Leaves typically submerged, finely divided with bladders that trap microscopic aquatic animals such as Paramecium. Flowers perfect, irregular, few to many in clusters. Calyx 2-lobed, corolla of 5 united petals. Stamens 2, pistil 1. Fruit a capsule. Bladderwort (Utricularia macrorhiza) adds a bright touch of yellow to pond shallows. Greater Bladderwort Lesser Bladderwort
A family of mostly herbaceous plants of diverse structure and habitats. Leaves usually alternate, fleshy, often elongated with veins running parallel from base to tip. Flowers are regular, perfect, showy with petals and sepals usually in threes, sometimes distinctly different from each other, often nearly identical (then called "tepals"). 6 stamens, 1 pistil. Superior ovary. Fruit is a 3-part capsule or berry.
Because of genetic research, a number of Liliaceae have been placed in other families.
Flexible Sego Lily
Weber places Calochortus
Gunnison's Sego Lily Nuttall's Sego Lily Glacier Lily Chocolate Lily Wood Lily Alp Lily Fairybells Weber places Prosartes and
Streptopus in Uvulariaceae, a family name not used by most other botanists.
Annual or perennial herbs. Represented in our area by a single genus (Linum). Leaves alternate, simple. Flowers perfect, regular, 5-parted petals and sepals attached directly to flower stalk. 5-10 fertile stamens and a pistil with 5-10 styles. Blue Flax (Linum lewisii), discovered by Meriwether Lewis, is a delicately beautiful plant found widely through the West. Blue Flax flowers open early and, depending on the sun or shade, fall by midday. Flax Blue Flax Yellow Flax Utah Yellow Flax Linnaeaceae
APG places this family in Caprifoliaceae (Honeysuckle Family).
Annual, perennial, or shrubby plants with barbed, Velcro-like hairs. Leaves opposite or alternate, entire or lobed. Flower regular, perfect, solitary or in clusters. 4-5 sepals and petals, stamens 5 to many , style 1. Fruit a capsule with one to many seeds. Often showy and lovely flowers are night-blooming. Blazing Star (Mentzelia multiflora) can be several feet tall with numerous, showy flowers. Dead, straw-colored plants stand for months.
Also called Blazing Star or Stickleaf Family.
White-Stemmed Mentzelia Hard Seed Mentzelia Mentzelia rusbyi Rusby's Mentzelia Up Bar
Herbs or shrubs, usually hairy, annual biennial, or perennial with mucilaginous juice. Leaves alternate, simple, mostly palmately veined. Flowers perfect or imperfect, regular. solitary or in clusters. 5 sepals and petals. Fruit a capsule. Some species at low elevations often carpet the ground. Checker mallows (Sidalcea spp.) at higher elevations are tall and showy wetland plants. Cotton, okra, and marsh mallows come now, or originally, from this family. Wild Hollyhock Cheeseweed White Checkermallow Pink Checkermallow Scarlet Globe Mallow Large Leaf Globe Mallow Narrow Leaf Globe Mallow Triangular Leaf Globe Mallow
False Hellebore Family
Perennial herb, from rhizome or bulb, or rhizomes ending in weakly developed bulbs, scapose or not. Leaf: alternate, whorled, or mostly basal and spirally arranged, deciduous after 1 year or not. Inflorescence: raceme, panicle, or flowers 1. Flower: perianth parts 6, in 2 petal-like whorls or of sepals and petals, free or fused below, ± spreading; stamens 6, from perianth, anthers attached at base or near middle; ovary superior or partly inferior, chambers 3, styles 3, persistent. Fruit: capsule, loculicidal or septicidal. (From Jepson eFlora.)
Melanthiaceae is a small family made up of former Liliaceae.
Mountain Death Camas Foothills Death Camas Corn Lily
Plants aquatic or semi-aquatic with thick rhizomes. Flowers perfect, regular, in clusters. Sepals and petals 5. Stamens 5, pistil 1. Fruit a capsule with smooth, shining seeds. Marsh trefoil (Menyanthes trifoliata) produces floating masses of leaves and exotic, fringed flowers. Buckbean Monotropaceae See Ericaceae.
Miner's Lettuce Family
Annual to perennial herb; generally fleshy. Stem: 1–many, generally glabrous. Leaf: simple, alternate or opposite. Inflorescence: axillary or terminal; cyme, raceme, panicle, umbel, or flower 1. Flower: bisexual, radial; sepals generally 2(9), free; petals (1)2–19, free or ± fused; stamens 1–many, epipetalous or not, anthers pink, rose, or yellow; ovary superior, chamber 1, ovules 1–many, placenta basal or free-central; styles (0)1–8, generally fused at base, branched. Fruit: capsule, circumscissile or 2–3-valved. Seed: 1–many, shiny or ± pebbly or sculptured, black or gray, generally with oil-filled appendage as food for ants. (From Jepson eFlora.)
Montiaceae is made up of former Portulacaceae.
Spring Beauty Alpine Spring Beauty
Nevada Bitterroot, Lewesia
Pygmy Bitterroot, Lewesia Canyonlands Rockpink
Four O'Clock Family
Annual or perennial herbs, often with stems swollen at the nodes; leaves simple, usually opposite. Flowers often tubular, perfect, regular, stamens 1 to many, pistil 1. Fruit 1-seeded, often winged nutlet. Very showy Four O'Clocks (Mirabilis multiflora) are a relatively common southwest species. Sand Verbena Trailing Windmills Narrow-leaf Four O'Clocks Showy Four O'Clocks Trailing Four O'Clocks
Perennial herb to tree [vine], hairs 0 or peltate or not; rarely dioecious. Leaf: simple to odd-pinnately compound, alternate or generally opposite, deciduous or evergreen; stipules 0. Inflorescence: various; flowers >= 1. Flower: generally bisexual, generally radial; calyx generally minute (0), tube cup-shaped, lobes 4–15; petals (0)4–6(8), generally fused; nectar disk often present; stamens (0)2(4–5), epipetalous; pistil 1, ovary superior, chambers 2, each 2–4 ovuled, placenta axile, style 1, stigma generally 2-lobed.Fruit: drupe, capsule, or winged achene. Seed: 1 per chamber. (From Jepson eFlora.) Desert Olive Single Leaf Ash
Evening Primrose Family
Herbs or rarely woody. Leaves alternate, opposite, often in basal clusters. Flowers perfect. Sepals and petals 4 or 2. Stamens as many or twice as many as the petals. Fruit a capsule, nut, or berry. Not true Primroses (Primulaceae). Very showy white or yellow long-flowering plants from hot, dry foothills to moist montane meadows. Pollinated by night-flying moths. Evening primrose (Oenothera caespitosa) is very common and showy.
Fireweed Alpine Fireweed Chylismia scapoidea ssp. scapoidea Leafless Bee Blossom Chylismia walkeri ssp. walkeri Walker's Bee Blossom Alpine Willowherb Fringed Willowherb Hornemann's Willowherb White-stemmed Evening Primrose Matted Evening Primrose Evening Primrose Hooker's Evening Primrose Yellow Evening Primrose Oenothera lavandulifolia Sundrops Bridges Evening Primrose Pale Evening Primrose
Spore-bearing plants, considered fern allies, with complex and little understood life cycle. Spend 10 years underground in spore stage in association with mycorrhizal fungi. Emerge as perennials, very small (up to 6 inches tall in some species), living above ground for perhaps 6 years. Leaf uniquely composed of fertile frond (sporophore) and infertile, photosynthesizing trophophore. All Botrychium are considered rare in Colorado -- perhaps because they are so difficult to find. Botrychium echo is the most common species of this family in the Colorado Rockies.
Also called Moonwort Family.
Echo Moonwort Western Moonwort Lance-leaf Moonwort Mingan Moonwort New Moon Moonwort Pinnate Moonwort
Next to Asteraceae, Orchidaceae is the largest family world-wide. Mostly tropical family of perennial herbs with tuberous, fibrous or scaly, coral-like rootstocks and entire leaves. Showy flowers are irregular, 3-parted, with similar lateral petals and the mostly dissimilar middle petal (lip) often with a backward-projecting spur. Fruits typically a 3-valved capsule. Calypso Orchid Long-bracted Orchid Spotted Coralroot Striped Coralroot Lady's Slipper Orchid Weber places Cypripedium in Cypripediaceae. Giant Helleborine Rattlesnake
Bog Orchid Blunt-leaf Orchid Heartleaf Twayblade Lady's Tresses
Annual, perennial herb, shrub; often glandular; root-parasites, roots modified into absorptive structures. Stem: generally round in ×-section. Leaf: generally simple, generally alternate, reduced to ± fleshy scales in non-green plants lacking chlorophyll; stipules generally 0. Inflorescence: spike to panicle, generally bracted, or flowers 1–2 in axils. Flower: bisexual; calyx lobes 0–5; corolla generally strongly bilateral, generally 2-lipped (upper lip generally 2-lobed, lower lip generally 3-lobed), abaxial lobes outside other lobes in bud; stamens epipetalous, 4 in 2 pairs (sometimes 1 pair sterile), additional staminode 0(1), anther sacs unequal; ovary superior, chambers 1–2, placentas 2–4, parietal, style 1, stigma lobes 0 or 2. Fruit: capsule, generally ± ovoid, loculicidal, valves 2–4. Seed: many, small, angled; surface smooth or netted. (From Jepson eFlora.)
Genetic research has shown that Castilleja, Cordylanthus, Orthocarpus, and Pedicularis belong in Orobanchaceae, not Scrophulariaceae (Snapdragon).
Arizona Broomrape Bundled Broomrape Single-flower Broomrape Desert Paintbrush Genetic research indicates that Paintbrush (Castilleja spp) should be placed in Orobanchaceae: Paintbrush is often parasitic. Hayden's Paintbrush Whole-leaf Paintbrush Wyoming Paintbrush Lineated Paintbrush Red Paintbrush Western Yellow Paintbrush Rose Paintbrush Eastwood's Paintbrush Northern Yellow Paintbrush Clubflower Genetic research indicates that Cordylanthus should be placed in Orobanchaceae. Yellow Owl-clover Genetic research indicates that Orthocarpus should be placed in Orobanchaceae. Purple Owl-clover Fern Leaf Lousewort Genetic research indicates that Pedicularis should be placed in Orobanchaceae. Pedicularis are often parasitic. Spring Lousewort Elephant Heads Alpine Lousewort Towering Lousewort Parrot's Beak Alpine Lousewort
Wood Sorrel Family
Herbs with sour juice (oxalic acid). Leaves in threes. Flowers perfect, regular, solitary or in clusters. Sepals and petals 5, stamens 10, pistil 1. Fruit a capsule. Sorrel (Oxalis dillenii) is quite uncommon in our area but quite common in other areas of the U.S. Yellow Wood Sorrel Violet Wood Sorrel Up Bar
Annual or perennial herbs, usually with milky juice. Leaves alternate, opposite, entire, lobed. Flowers regular, perfect, solitary or several in cluster. Stamens few to numerous, pistil 1. Fruit a capsule. Paper poppy (Argemone polyanthemos) has large, very showy white flowers and is extending its range. Prickly Poppy Golden Corydalis Case's Corydalis
Grass of Parnassus Family
Parnassia species are now in Celastraceae.
Annual to shrub. Stem: ×-section generally round. Leaf: opposite, simple, entire or toothed; stipules 0. Inflorescence: spike, raceme, or panicle, bracted, or flowers 1–2 in axils. Flower: bisexual; calyx radial or ± bilateral, tube long, generally ribbed, lobes 5; corolla generally bilateral, generally 2-lipped, upper 2-lobed, lower 3-lobed; stamens 4 in 2 pairs, epipetalous, included or exserted; pistil 1, ovary superior, chambers 1–2, placentas parietal or axile, style 1, stigma lobes 2, flat, folding together when touched. Fruit: generally capsule, generally ellipsoid, loculicidal [indehiscent, 1-seeded]. (From Jepson eFlora.) Eastwood's Monkeyflower Genetic research indicates that Mimulus should be placed in Phrymaceae. Yellow Monkeyflower Suksdorf's Monkeyflower Tiling's Monkeyflower
Ancient family of evergreen trees with scaly bark. Leaves of two kinds: thin and scale-like at the base of short branches and long, green needle-like borne singly or in clusters of 2-5 on spur branches. Male pollen-producing cones are narrow, elongated; female cones similarly shaped but much larger and woody, maturing in 1 or 2 seasons and not falling apart at maturity. All of our Pines are important forest trees for wildlife, human uses, and their beauty. Majestic Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa) is found throughout the Rockies. Subalpine Fir White Fir Engelmann Spruce Colorado Blue Spruce Lodgepole Pine Pinyon Pine Limber Pine Ponderosa Pine Douglas Fir
Annual to shrub, some aquatic. Leaf: basal or cauline, alternate or opposite (whorled), simple, entire to dentate or lobed, venation generally pinnate; stipules 0. Inflorescence: raceme, spike, or flowers axillary in 1–few-flowered clusters; flowers few to many, each subtended by 1 bract. Flower: unisexual or bisexual, radial or bilateral; sepals 4–5, generally fused at base; corolla 4–5-lobed, scarious or not, persistent or not, generally 2-lipped, upper lip generally 2-lobed, lower generally 3-lobed, spur present or not, tube sac-like at base or not; stamens 2 or 4, alternate corolla lobes, epipetalous, staminode 0 or 1–2, anthers opening by 2 slits; ovary superior, 2–4-chambered, style 1, stigma lobes 0 or 2. Fruit: generally a capsule, septicidal, loculicidal, circumscissile, or dehiscing by terminal slits or pores. (From Jepson eFlora.)
Genetic research indicates that a number of former Scrophulariaceae genera (Besseya, Chionophila, Collinsia, Linaria, Penstemon, and Veronica) should be placed in Plantaginaceae.
Snowlover Blue-Eyed Mary Mare's Tail Butter and Eggs Common Butter and Eggs Narrow-leaf Penstemon
With ~250 species each, Penstemon and Eriogonum are tied for third as the most numerous genera in North America. Carex has 480 and Astragalus 350. Erigeron has about 200 species.
The Penstemon genus has 22 species on this website. Eriogonum has 16. Astragalus
has 31 species and Erigeron 28.
Scarlet Bugler Short Penstemon Crandall's Penstemon Formerly identified in the Four Corners region as
Penstemon cyanocaulis Blue-stemmed Penstemon Hairy Penstemon Eaton's Penstemon Hall's Penstemon Harbour's Penstemon Thick Penstemon Narrow-leaf Penstemon Bridges Penstemon Rocky Mountain Penstemon Utah Penstemon Whipple's Penstemon Plantain Woolly Plantain American Brookline Genetic research indicates that Veronica should be placed in Plantaginaceae. Veronica Alpine Kitten Tails Veronica plantaginea White River Kitten Tails Ritters' Kitten Tails Thyme-leaf Speedwell Veronica
Annual, biennial, or perennial herbs. Leaves simple, alternate or opposite, entire to pinnatifid, simple or compound. Flowers perfect, solitary or in clusters. Calyx 5-lobed, corolla usually 5 united petals, often in showy tubes. Stamens usually 5 adnate to the petals, included or exserted, pistil 1. Ovary superior. Fruit a capsule. The Phlox Family gives us a number of very common and showy plants from Alpine Phlox (Phlox condensata) to montane Jacob's Ladder (Polemonium pulcherrimum) to foothills and montane Scarlet Gilia (Ipomopsis aggregata).
Beautiful Gilia Hayden's Gilia Sticky Gilia Coral Gilia Large-flowered Trumpet Narrow-leaf Trumpet Sparse Starflower Eyed Gilia Scarlet Gilia Ball-head Skyrocket Gunnison's Skyrocket Long-flowered Skyrocket Pagosa Skyrocket Spreading Skyrocket Dwarf Skyrocket Coral Ipomopsis This is a new species that
Betty and I discovered.
Rosy Skyrocket Slender-tubed Skyrocket Slender-tubed Phlox Desert Trumpets Graceful Phlox Yellow Pincushion Alva Day's Gilia Southern Phlox Gray Phlox Alpine Phlox Long-flower Phlox Phlox multiflora Many-flower Phlox Dense Sky Pilot Leafy Jacobs Ladder Beautiful Jacobs Ladder Sticky Sky Pilot
Annual or perennial herbs, shrubs, or vines. Leaves simple, alternate, opposite or whorled. Flowers perfect or not, regular. Perianth in 2-6 parts. Species divided into two groups: Knotweeds (5-sepaled flowers in dense clusters) and Buckwheats (6-sepals in whorls of 3 in dense umbels). Fruit a three-sided, hard sunflower-like seed. This family gives us two important food plants: Buckwheat and Rhubarb. American bistort (Bistorta bistortoides) and Sulphur Flower (Eriogonum umbellatum) are very common and showy plants known to all who hike the Rockies.
The Eriogonum genus is, with Penstemon, the largest North American plant genus with about 254 endemic species. Eriogonum range from east central Alaska south to central Mexico and from near-shore islands off the California and Baja California coasts to the Great Plains of central Canada south to central Mexico, the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia and Virginia, and the coastal plains of the southeastern United States from the Carolinas to central Florida. (From James Reveal's key to Polygonaceae.)
The Buckwheat Family is also known as the Knotweed Family.
American Bistort Alpine Bistort Winged Buckwheat Curved Buckwheat
On this website there are 16 species of Eriogonum. There are 31 species of Astragalus, 28 of Erigeron, and 22 of Penstemon.
Intermountain Flora has 118 pages of keys and descriptions for 121 species of Eriogonum. The Flora of North America
has 209 pages of keys and
descriptions for nearly 224
Eriogonum species. James Reveal, the Eriogonum expert, devotes over 1,200 pages to keys, descriptions, photographs, and locations of all ~250 species of Eriogonum plus hundreds of varieties.
Nodding Buckwheat Corymb Buckwheat Corymb Buckwheat Eriogonum hookeri Hooker's Buckwheat Desert Trumpets Slender-leaved Buckwheat Lance-leaf Buckwheat Slender Buckwheat Cushion Buckwheat Eriogonum palmerianum Palmer's Buckwheat Red-root Buckwheat Sulphur Flower Mountain Sorrel Water Smartweed Persicaria lapathifolia Dock-leaf Smartweed Persicaria maculosa Spotted Lady's Thumb Dense-flowered Dock Wild Rhubarb Flexible Buckwheat Salty Buckwheat
Annual to perennial herb, generally fleshy. Stem: several to many, spreading [to erect], generally glabrous. Leaf: simple, alternate or opposite, linear, obovate, spoon-shaped, [elliptic, ± round], flat or cylindric, hairs in axils, inconspicuous or not , upper 2–5 forming involucre. Inflorescence: flowers 1 or clustered at stem tips. Flower: bisexual, radial; sepals 2, fused at base, lower part fused to ovary and generally persistent in fruit; petals 5, fused at base, forming ring, yellow [magenta, rose, orange, white]; stamens 4–20[> 20], epipetalous or not, anthers yellow; ovary 1/2-inferior, chamber 1, ovules several to many, placenta free-central; style branches 3–6. Fruit: capsule, circumscissile. Seed: many, reniform, ± tubercled, black, gray, [brown, ± blue]. (From Jepson eFlora.)
On the basis of genetic research, Claytonia, Lewisia, and Phemeranthus, formerly in Portulacaceae, have been moved to Montiaceae.
Purslane or Portulaca
Annual or perennial herbs with simple leaves. Flowers perfect, regular, commonly with 5 fused sepals, 5 petals fused into a lobed tube, and 5 stamens. Fruit is a capsule, typically with five valves. Early blooming Parry's primrose (Primula parryi) is a favorite. Northern
Shooting Star Parry's Primrose Alcove Primrose
Maidenhair Fern Family
Stems are compact and creeping. Once-to-six times pinnate leaves are monomorphic or dimorphic with persistent scales on the petioles and complex patterns on the veins. Sori often grow very close, forming a band very near the leaf margin. There are about 1,000 species world-wide with a number in arid climates. Maidenhair Fern Argyrochosma limitanea Cloak Fern Slender Lip Fern Rock Brake Steller's Rock Brake Pyrolaceae
Members of this family are now in Ericaceae.
Annual or perennial herbs or trailing vines. Leaves alternate, opposite, simple, deeply divided or variously compound. Flowers perfect (rarely imperfect), regular or irregular. Sepals and petals 3 to many, sepals usually petal-like and of various colors. Stamens 5 to many, pistils 1 to many. Fruit hard and dry, berry, or follicle. A number of species are showy, moisture-loving, and carpet the ground: Water-plantain buttercup (Ranunculus alismifolius), Marsh Marigold (Caltha leptosepala).
Weber places some Ranunculaceae in Helleboraceae and Thalictraceae.
Weber places Aconitum in
Red Baneberry Weber places Actea in Helleboraceae. Windflower Colorado Columbine Weber places Aquilegia in Helleboraceae. Columbine Columbine Shooting Star Columbine Alcove Columbine Marsh Marigold Weber calls this species Psychrophila leptosepala and places it in
Hornhead Sugarbowls Western Clematis Virgin's Bower Clematis Delphinium Weber places Delphinium in
Larkspur Desert Delphinium Pasqueflower Plantain-leaf Buttercup Eschscholtz's Buttercup Sagebrush Buttercup Graceful Buttercup Macauley's Buttercup Woodland Buttercup Alpine Meadowrue Fendler's Meadowrue Weber places Thalictrum in
Tasselrue Globe Flower Weber places Trollius in
Shrubs and trees with alternate or opposite simple or compound leaves. Flowers perfect or not, regular or nearly. Sepals and petals 4 or 5. Fruit is usually a drupe or capsule. Buckbrush (Ceanothus fendleri) has minute flowers to be marveled at with a hand lens. The plant can occur in very large patches. Fendler's Ceanothus Birchleaf Buckthorn Smith's Buckthorn
Annual, biennial, or perennial herbs, shrubs, or small trees. Leaves alternate or less commonly opposite, simple or compound. Flowers mostly perfect, regular, single or in clusters. Sepals and petals usually 5; stamens mostly 15, rarely 5 (commonly in several whorls of 5), pistils 1 to many. Fruit is a dry achene, pod, drupe, berry. Although the flowers of the Rose Family are very similar, the variety of fruits is an indication of the complexity of this large family. The Rose Family gives us Apples, Pears, Cherries, Plums, Strawberries, and Raspberries. Numerous Rose Family well-known and showy wildflowers and trees range through the Rockies: Mountain Avens (Geum rossii), Wild Strawberry (Fragaria virginiana), Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana), and, of course, Wild Rose (Rosa woodsii).
Alder-leaf Serviceberry Utah Serviceberry Mountain Mahogany Cercocarpus ledifolius Curl-leaf Mountain Mahogany Mountain Mahogany Blackbrush Hawthorn Shrubby Cinquefoil Sticky Cinquefoil Fallugia paradoxa Apache Plume Little Strawberry Virginia Strawberry Yellow Avens Large Leaf Avens Alpine Avens Prairie Smoke Ivesia gordonii Ivesia Wild Crab Apple Rockmat Elegant Cinquefoil Potentilla gracilis Slender Cinquefoil Hippio's Cinquefoil Potentilla nivea Snow Cinquefoil Pennsylvania Cinquefoil Platte River Cinquefoil Beautiful Cinquefoil Red-stemmed Cinquefoil Poterium sanguisorba ssp. muricatum Burnet Chokecherry Cliff Rose Buckbrush Wild Rose Red Raspberry Thimbleberry Sibbaldia Rowan Tree
Herbs or shrubs. Leaves opposite or whorled, simple, entire. Flowers perfect or not, regular, usually in clusters. Flowers have 4-5 sepals, 4-5 fused petals, and 4-5 stamens. Fruit typically a capsule, drupe, or berry. Bedstraw (Galium boreale) lends a pervasive sweetness to summer hiking. Northern Bedstraw Fragrant Bedstraw Ruscaceae
APG places this family in Asparagaceae (Asparagus Family).
Dwarf shrubs to large trees. Leaves alternate, simple, entire or toothed, rarely lobed. Flowers not perfect in catkins. Almost always dioecious. Perianth none or vestigial. Stamens (1)2-80. Pistil 1. Fruit is a capsule with numerous small seeds, each bearing a tuft of white, silky hairs. This is a very well-known family as it gives us the difficult to identify Willows (Salix spp) and the golden, fall-glowing, and easy to identify Aspen (Populus tremuloides). Silver Poplar Narrowleaf Cottonwood Populus deltoides
and subspecies fremontii
Cottonwood Lombardy Poplar Aspen Willow Drummond's Willow Sandbar Willow,
Peach-leaf Willow Navajo Willow Rocky Mountain Willow Snow Willow Rock Willow Plane-leaf Willow Scouler's Willow
Trees, shrubs or herbs, sometimes parasitic or hemiparasitic. Stipules 0. Leaves alternate, rarely opposite, entire, simple, sometimes reduced to scales. Flowers small, greenish or white, bisexual or unisexual, radially symmetrical. Perianth of 1 whorl with 3-5 lobes. Stamens as many as perianth lobes. Ovary inferior or half-inferior, 1-locular. Stigma terminal, capitate or 5-lobed. Fruit indehiscent, dry or fleshy. Seed 1. Arceuthobium vaginatum
Ponderosa Mistletoe Bastard Toadflax Phoradendron juniperinum Juniper Mistletoe
Tree, shrub, [woody vine]. Leaf: opposite [alternate], generally palmately or ternately [pinnately] lobed to compound, deciduous, petioled; stipules 0. Inflorescence: umbel, panicle, or pendent raceme, axillary or terminal. Flower: unisexual or bisexual, radial or ± bilateral; sepals (4)5, free or fused; petals 0, 4, or 5(6); prominent disk between petals and stamens; stamens 5–12, free; ovary superior, chambers 2–3, each 2-ovuled, style short or 0, stigmas 2(3), linear, or 1, unlobed. Fruit: 2(3) 1-seeded mericarps, conspicuously winged, or generally leathery, generally 1[many]-seeded capsule [berry, nut, drupe]. (From Jepson eFlora.) Red Maple Big Tooth Maple Box Elder
Shrub, erect; generally monoecious. Stem: branches many, 90° to main stem, thorny, generally interlocking, generally thorn-tipped. Leaf: many, simple, cauline, generally alternate, deciduous, sessile, ± linear, flattened to subcylindric, fleshy; stipules 0.Inflorescence: staminate spikes cylindric, dense, erect, terminal; pistillate flowers 1–4, axillary; bracts leaf-like. Staminate flower: perianth 0, stamens 1–4, sessile on spike axis, concealed by peltate, angular, persistent, spirally arranged bracts. Pistillate flower: carpels 2, fused, stigmas 2, ovary 1/2 inferior; perianth cup-like, fused to ovary, persistent, forming wing in fruit. Fruit: achene, tapering above encircling, irregularly-edged wing; ± glabrous. Seed: coat thin; embryo coiled, green. (From Jepson eFlora.) Greasewood
Mostly small perennial herbs or shrubs. Leaves alternate or basal, less often opposite. Simple or compound. Inflorescence Cyme, raceme, or solitary. Flowers perfect (rarely unisexual), regular or somewhat irregular. Flowers commonly cup-shaped and mostly 5-parted (but may be 3-10). Petals often clawed. Stamens as many as or twice as many as the petals. Fruit usually a capsule, sometimes a berry. This family is highly variable with a number of common and well-known species in the Rockies: Alumroot (Heuchera parvifolia) and Brook Saxifrage (Micranthes odontoloma).
The Parnassia genus is now in Parnassiaceae.
Alum Root Smooth Woodland Star Small Woodland Star Delicate Woodland Star Brook Saxifrage Split Snowball Saxifrage Snowball Saxifrage White Mitrewort Green Mitrewort Dotted Saxifrage Saxifraga caespitosa Tufted Saxifrage Nodding Saxifrage Golden Saxifrage Whiplash Saxifrage Pygmy Saxifrage Up Bar
Annual herbs to trees, generally glandular, some ± aquatic. Stem: round to square in ×-section. Leaf: simple, generally alternate, generally ± entire; stipules generally 0 (present in Limosella). Inflorescence: spike to panicle (head-like), generally bracted, or flowers 1–4 in axils. Flower: generally bisexual; calyx lobes 4–5; corolla bilateral to radial, lobes 4–5; stamens epipetalous, 4–5, 5th a staminode in Scrophularia; pistil 1, ovary superior, chambers generally 2, placentas axile, style 1, stigma lobes generally 2. Fruit: capsule, generally ± ovoid, loculicidal or septicidal, or drupe-like. (From Jepson eFlora.)
The Snapdragon Family is also known as the Figwort Family.
On the basis of genetic research, almost all members of the Snapdragon Family (Scrophulariaceae) have been moved to other families.
For Castilleja, Cordylanthus, Orthocarpus, and Pedicularis see Orobanchaceae.
For Mimulus see Phrymaceae.
For Besseya, Chionophila, Collinsia, Linaria, Penstemon, and Veronica see Plantaginaceae.
Herbs, shrubs, or trees. Leaves alternate or in bundles. Flowers perfect, regular, solitary or in clusters with 4-6, usually 5 parts to united petals (often either tubular or cup-like). Fruits a berry or capsule often with a papery bag (formed from the sepals) around the berry .
The Nightshade Family is also known as the Potato Family.
Sacred Datura Wolfberry Coyote Tobacco Sparganiaceae See Typhaceae for Sparganium angustifolium.
Tamarisk Thalictraceae Weber's Thalictraceae is included in Ranunculaceae by other botanists. Themidaceae APG places this family in Asparagaceae (Asparagus Family).
Tall herbaceous semi-aquatic or aquatic perennials. Leaves alternate, long, linear, flat. Flowers densely crowded in elongated terminal clusters. Male flowers above and female flowers below in tight, brown cylinder which gradually opens and explodes with a mass of tiny, brown fruits which are attached to silky plumes that fill the air and seed themselves in any foothills wetland. Cattail (Typha latifolia) is spread across the U.S. Burreed Cattail
Tree. Leaf: simple, alternate, 2-ranked; veins pinnate; stipules deciduous. Flower: radial; sepals 4–9, free to fused; corolla 0; stamens 4–9, opposite sepals; ovary superior, chamber 1, ovule 1, style branches 2. Fruit: 2-winged nutlet. (From Jepson eFlora.) Siberian Elm
Annual or perennial herbs. Leaves opposite or alternate, simple, with or without stinging hairs. Flowers imperfect, inconspicuous in clusters. Male flowers with 3-6 sepals and stamens. Female with 4 or 5 sepals or perianth lacking, pistil 1. Fruit an achene. Most well-known member of this family is Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica). Hairs of this plant break off on contact, penetrate the skin slightly, and irritate with their histamine, acetylcholine, and other substances. The irritation is brief, can be intense, but can often be immediately alleviated by flooding with water. Stinging Nettle Uvulariaceae
Weber's Uvulariaceae species are included in Liliaceae by other botanists. Valerianaceae APG places this family in Caprifoliaceae (Honeysuckle Family).
Annual to shrub [tree], generally hairy. Leaf: cauline, opposite, generally toothed; stipules 0. Inflorescence: raceme, spike, or head, generally elongated in fruit; bract generally 1 per flower. Flower: bisexual; calyx generally 4–5-toothed; corolla 4–5-lobed, radial to bilateral, salverform to 2-lipped; stamens 4–5 (if 4, generally in unequal pairs), epipetalous; ovary superior, 2- or 4-lobed, generally 2- chambered, style 1, often with 2 unequal lobes, only 1 stigmatic, lateral. Fruit: 2 or 4 nutlets, drupe-like, or capsule. (From Jepson eFlora.) Wright's Vervain
Annual or perennial herbs. Leaves alternate, simple or divided. Flowers perfect, irregular, solitary. Sepals and petals 5 (lowermost petal spurred). Fruit a capsule. We have just six or so members of this family in our area but they are widely distributed, attractive, and well-known. Blue Violet Alpine Violet Bog Violet Yellow Violet Viscaceae Genera of this family are now in Santalaceae.
Shrubs or annual herbs with prostrate stems; leaves usually opposite, pinnately compound, leaflets entire; flowers perfect, regular; sepals and petals 5; stamens usually 10, pistil one; fruit splitting into nutlets. Kallstroemia parviflora Caltrop Tribulus terrestris Puncture Vine
Family descriptions are a compilation of information from A Utah Flora, Colorado Flora, The Flora of North America, Flora of the Four Corners Region, and this website.
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