Front Range, Eastern Slope, Rocky Mountains Checklist Flora of Native and Naturalized Vascular Plants of Golden and Vicinity, Jefferson County, Colorado (Continued)  

Tom Schweich  

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Topics in this Article:
Introduction
Geography
History of Botanic Exploration
Useful Publications
Methods
Results
Discussion - Native Plants
Discussion - Non-Native Plants
Conclusion
Acknowledgements
Literature Cited
Appendices
 Golden, Colorado sits in a valley formed by erosion along the Golden fault, the geotectonic boundary between the North American Cordillera and the Great Plains. Somewhat like Mono Lake, for which I have also prepared a checklist flora, it sits at a boundary, or perhaps ecotone. Things are always more interesting at the boundaries. I started this project when I realized no such list had been prepared for my newly adopted city. I hope you find this checklist flora helpful. Please write to me if you have questions or comments.

 

 

   

History of Botanic Exploration

 

   

The Long Expedition to the Rocky Mountains 1819-1820

 

Literature Cited:
- Goodman, George J., and Cheryl A. Lawson, 1995.  

Major Stephen H. Long, an army engineer, promoted scientific exploration in the west to President James Monroe and Secretary of War John Calhoun. In 1818, he received authorization to form a scientific group and undertake an expedition. His scientific staff included Edwin James, M.D., a twenty-three year old Vermonter, as botanist. The expedition set out on June 6, 1820, from Engineer Cantonment on the Missouri River, about 5 miles below Council Bluffs.

Literature Cited:
- James, Edwin, ed., 1823.

Other articles:
• Account of the Expedition, Volume 2:   5 Jul 2017;

Locations: Inspiration Point.  

The expedition arrived in the Denver area on July 5th, camping on the South Platte River opposite Cannon Ball Creek (now Clear Creek). In the afternoon, James and three others set out for the base of the Rocky Mountains, thinking they were just a few miles away. Eight miles later, they reached the location of present day Inspiration Point and, discouraged that the mountains looked no closer, they turned back to camp. Along the way the party noted a few plants, but did not collect.

Other articles:
• Sheridan Blvd:   at Inspiration Pt Pk;  

At some location on the 5th, James made two collections. One collection was identified by Torrey as Sium latifolium L. Roem. And Schult. Vi. P. 331. Tor. Fl. i. p. 311. Base of the Rocky Mountains. Is listed in Goodman and Lawson (1995) as Sium suave Walter Water Parsnip. Ackerfield (2015) says this taxon does not occur in Jefferson County, and SEINet supports this contention, save for one 1977 collection at a Main Reservoir near Mississipi and Kipling in Lakewood.

Torrey lists Stipa barbata Michx. fl. i. p. 53. as being found on the sources of the Platte and Canadian. He then goes on to observe "… grows with Cenchrus echinatus, and like that plant is very troublesome ; the bearded awns adhering to and penetrating the dress." Goodman and Lawson (1995, p. 210) state that both Stipa barbata and S. juncea, as used by James, are synonyms for Hesperostipa comata (Trin. & Rupr.) Barkworth.

Locations: Platte Canyon. Roxborough Park. Sheep Mountain.  

On July 6th, they moved to the mouth of Platte Canyon, and explored in the Roxborough Park area. The next day James and several others struggled up the north bank of the South Platte, reaching the southeast slopes of Sheep Mountain.

The southeast slopes of Sheep Mountain are most likely locations for many of James' new species. In particular: Eriogonum umbellatum Torr. “Sulphur Flower,” Physocarpus monogynus (Torrey) Coulter “Mountain Ninebark,” and Acer glabrum Torrey “Rocky Mountain Maple” were most likely collected on Sheep Mountain. James' collection of Cercocarpus montanus Raf. “Alder Leaf Mountain Mahogany” was probably made at the mouth of Platte Canyon. There are several other collections that may have been made in this area, but the time or location may be unclear, or in the case of Rubus deliciousus the material actually collected is unclear.

Literature Cited:
- James, Edwin, ed., 1823.

Other articles:
• Account of the Expedition, Volume 2:  preface;  

In 1823, the “Account of an Expedition from Pittsburgh to the Rocky Mountains performed in the years 1819, 1820, by order of the Hon. J. C. Calhoun, under the command of Major Stephen H. Long,” in two volumes, and edited by Edwin James was published. The botany of the expedition is not covered in detail in these volumes. There are only a few references or notes to plants collected or seen along the way.

Literature Cited:
- Torrey, John, 1824a.  

John Torrey (1824a) “Description of some new or rare plants from the Rocky Mountains, collected in July, 1820, by Dr. E. James” describes some new plants from Pikes Peak slopes and summit. None of the plants were collected in Jefferson County, Colorado.

Literature Cited:
- Torrey, John, 1824b.  

John Torrey (1824b) “Description of some new grasses, collected by Dr. E. James, during the expedition of Major Long to the Rocky Mountains, in 1819-1820” contains no new grasses from Jefferson County, Colorado.

Literature Cited:
- James, Edwin, 1825.  

In 1825, James published a “Catalogue of Plants Collected During a Journey to and from the Rocky Mountains, During the Summer of 1820.” However, this account does not include any previously undescribed plants.

Literature Cited:
- Torrey, John G., 1828.

Other articles:
• Golden Checklist Flora:  Torrey, 1828, publication details;  

Finally, in 1828, Torrey's “Some account of a Collection of Plants made during a journey to and from the Rocky Mountains in the summer of 1820, by Edwin P. James, M. D. Assistant Surgeon U. S. Army.” some of the new taxa from Jefferson County. These collections were made on the southeast slopes of Sheep Mountain, above Waterton Canyon. Some of the new taxa were Acer glabrum Torr. “Rocky Mountain Maple,” Spiraea monogyna Torr. (=Physocarpus monogynus (Torr.) J. M. Coult.) “Mountain Nine-bark,” and Eriogonum umbellatum Torr. “Sulphur-flower Buckwheat” Torrey's caution got the best of him with his acceptance of Cercocarpus fothergilloides Kunth for what later became C. montanus Raf. While none of these plants were collected in Golden by the Long Expedition, there are all quite common here.

Literature Cited:
- Rafinesque, C. S., 1832.

Other articles:
• Atlantic Journal:  107120;  

Rafinesque was pretty unhappy with Torrey being " ...so very cautious that he will not admit any improvement except after long delays and previous precedents …" which left him feeling "… compelled to rectify this omission by forming many new genera and species out of [Torrey's] plants, for my florula Oregonensis." Justifying his action by stating " …hesitation in science is often as injurous as haste. It is even better to have two names for an object than no name at all," Rafinesque published Cercocarpus montanus Raf. in “Twenty new genera of plants from the Oregon Mountains, &c.”
  Some plants collected by Edwin James and found in Golden are:

Other articles:
• Golden Checklist Flora:  Notes on Tragia ramosa;  

Tragia ramosa Torr. Branched Noseburn.

Literature Cited:
- Beaman, John H., 1957.
- Graustein, Jeannette E., 1967.

Other articles:
• Golden Checklist Flora:  Townsendia grandiflora;

Locations: Mount Vernon Canyon.  

Two Townsendias are commonly collected in the Golden area: T. grandiflora and T. hookeri. Both were first collected in 1834 by Thomas Nuttall during his journey with the Wyeth expedition from St. Louis, Missouri, to Fort Vancouver, Oregon. Nuttall kept no journal during this trip, so his localities are always a bit of a mystery. Some location data can be derived from his published account and the label data on his specimens. “Plains of the Platte” is probably the most accurate location description for T. grandiflora, whereas "an alpine chain toward the sources of the Platte" is the most descriptive location for T. hookeri. Nuttall's determination of his collection was T. sericea Hook. T. sericea is an illegitimate name and a synonym of T. exscapa (Richardson) Porter.

Full Size Image
Coll. No. 1247, Townsendia grandiflora
Beaman (1957) proposed T. hookeri Beaman as a segregate from T. exscapa, using a collection by Clokey in Mt. Vernon Canyon as his type. Besides its generally smaller size, a distinguishing character of T. hookeri Beaman is its little tuft of twisted cilia at the apex of the phyllaries (Beaman, 1957, Graustein, 1967).

 

Literature Cited:
- Jercinovic, Eugene, n.d..
- Pursh, Frederick, 1814.

Other articles:
• Spur Social Trail:   top of mesa;
• Field Notes:  Coll. No. 1385, 1 Jun 2016;  

The First Collection Made in Golden

The oldest collection from Golden with reliable data is E. L. Greene's collection of Oxytropis lambertii Pursh on May 1, 1870. Greene moved to Colorado in 1870. The location is given simply as “Golden.” This collection is at the Brown University Herbarium, on a voucher with a Hall & Harbour collection made in 1862. While O. lambertii was described by Pursh (1814), it is not a Lewis and Clark collection. Pursh described it from a collection by John Bradbury (1768-1823) on the Missouri River.
Full Size Image
Purple Locoweed (Oxytropis lambertii) on top of North Table Mountain.
Full Size Image
Coll. No. 1385, Oxytropis lambertii

Literature Cited:
- Britton, Nathaniel Lord, 1900.
Full Size ImageE. L. Greene collection of Crataegus succulenta  

There is another plant collection giving Golden as the location that carries an earlier date. It is a anonymous collection of Crataegus occidentalis Britton that gives "By streams near Golden" as the location. The collection date is reported as 1822 by NY, the holder of this voucher.

There is a problem with the collection date, though. Golden was not founded until 1859, when it was named for Thomas L. Golden, who arrived in then-Kansas Territory in 1858. The only collectors in the area near the 1822 date were the Major Stephen Long expedition of 1820. A collection from that expedition would have ended up in the Torrey Herbarium as this specimen did. There is a pencilled notation above "Rev. E. L. Greene" and perhaps that note would shed some light. It is also possible that the label was written and affixed many years after the collection was made. Examining the date hand-written on the label, it appears that it could 1872 rather than 1822. If the date were 1872 then the collector could have been C. C. Parry, E. L. Greene, or possibly someone else.

Britton's (1900) description of C. occidentalis states that the types were “… collected by Prof. E. L. Greene, near Golden, Colo., 1873, along streams, in flower; on river-bank near the Forks of Dismal River, Hooke Co., Nebr., collected by Dr. P. A. Rydberg, July 11, 1893, in fruit.” This seems pretty conclusive, that the collection in question, was likely collected in 1872(3) and that the collector was probably E. L. Greene.

Ackerfield (2015) treats Crataegus occidentalis Britton as a synonym of C. succulenta Schrad., whereas FNANM treats it as a synonym of C. macracantha Loddiges ex Loudon.

   

The Last 50 Years

 

Literature Cited:
- Brunquist, E. H., 1966.  

Ernest H. Brunquist (1888-1978) was curator of botany at the Denver Museim of Nature and Science from the late 1950s to the late 1970s.

Brunquist (1966) prepared a local checklist flora of the Heritage Square area as part of the report on Excavations at Magic Mountain (Irwin-Williams and Irwin, 1966).

Literature Cited:
- Varnell, Jeanne, 1972.

Locations: South Table Mountain.  

The Jefferson Sentinel in July, 1972 ran a long article about South Table Mountain describing its history and the need to save it as park land.

Literature Cited:
- Brown, Georgina, 1976.

Locations: South Table Mountain.  

Georgina Brown's Book, The Shining Mountains, describes a grisly murder that took place on South Table Mountain.

Literature Cited:
- Zeise, Larry Steven, 1976.

Locations: North Table Mountain.  

The Colorado Chapter of the Nature Conservancy funded an ecological survey of North Table Mountain by Larry S. Zeise (1976) under the supervision of John W. Marr of the University of Colorado, Boulder, CO.

Literature Cited:
- Kilburn, Paul D., and Sally L. White, 1992.

Other articles:
• North Table Mountain:  Title Page;

Locations: North Table Mountain.  

Paul Kilburn and Sally White (1992) published a short volume on the history and natural features of North Table Mountain. With permission of the authors, I have republished their volume on this website.

Literature Cited:
- Pague, Christopher A., Renee Rondeau, and Mark Duff, 1993.

Locations: North Table Mountain.  

North Table Mountain was described in a report by the Colorado Natural Heritage Program as posessing a Biodiversity rank of B4 (Pague, et al., 1993).

Locations: North Table Mountain. South Table Mountain.
Full Size ImagePoster advertising presentation about South Table Mountain  

In 2001, a presentation by Dr. Robert Raynolds, Loraine Yeatts, and Dr. Kirk Johnson, was made at the American Mountaineering Center describing why the Table Mountains were important to preserve.

Literature Cited:
- Plantae Consulting Services, 2002.

Locations: South Table Mountain.  

Maureen O'Shea-Stone published a vegetation survey report of the portion of South Table Mountain owned by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (Plantae Consulting Services, 2002).

Literature Cited:
- Sovell, John, Pam Smith, Denise Culver, Susan Panjabi and Joe Stevens, 2012.

Locations: North Table Mountain.  

The Colorado Natural Heritage Program prepared a survey of critical biological resources for Jefferson County (Sovell, et al., 2012), in which North Table Mountain was upgraded to Biodiversity Rank B3.
  Understanding urban flora …

Literature Cited:
- Clemants, Steven E., and Gerry Moore, 2003.  

 

 

 

   

Useful Publications

 

Literature Cited:
- Harrington, H. D., 1954.  

Harrington's Manual of the Plants of Colorado (1954) is occasionally helpful because it has more extensive descriptions of the taxa. Also, Harrington wrote a natural key rather than the artificial key in Weber & Wittmann (2012) and Ackerfield (2015). One problem is, though, that the progress of science has made some of Harrington's groups obsolete or moved some taxa from one group to another.

Literature Cited:
- Baldwin, Bruce G., Douglas H. Goldman, David J. Keil, Robert Patterson, and Thomas J. Rosatti, 2012.
- Shaw, Robert B., 2008.
- Wingate, Janet L., 1994.  

Shaw's (2008) Grasses of Colorado is typically where I start with grasses. I will then use Ackerfield (2015) or Weber & Wittmann (2012) to confirm a grass determination. Although, for a few collections, most recently one of Elymus lanceolatus, the most straight forward key was found in Wingate (1994) Illustrated Keys to Grasses of Colorado. And, finally, just to insert an element of heresy into the discussion, keying out a brome used in a revegetation project proved to be impossible until I turned to Baldwin, et al. (2012) Jepson Manual of the California Flora.

Literature Cited:
- Weber, William A., and Ronald C. Wittmann, 2012.  

Weber and Wittmann's Colorado Flora: Eastern Slope (2012, 4th edition) is a highly developed diagnostic manual. It suffers somewhat from an unconventional use of names, though often the authors were simply ahead of their time. However, with a little use, the synonomy with other floras becomes fairly clear. I typically use Weber & Wittmann (2012) to confirm a determination. Sometimes, though, a plant will key out easily in this manual when it has failed in another.

There are several taxa that are not recognized by this flora, but are in Ackerfield (2015). Chief among them are Oenothera biennis and Eriogonum arcuatum. Specimens of those taxa will key out to O. villosa and E. flavum, respectively. This has caused small problems for the author for plants collected on North Table Mountain and in the Deadman Gulch area. For example a specimen collected on North Table Mountain would be keyed out as E. flavum in 2014, when I first began collecting, but as E. arcuatum in 2016. I suspect that a similar dissonance will be found among herbarium vouchers.

Literature Cited:
- Ackerfield, Jennifer, 2015.  

Ackerfield's (2015) Flora of Colorado is, of course, the current best manual for Colorado. Its publication was a great step forward. Like when I used to write computer code, the first version was always serviceable, but each succeeding version was an enormous improvement, and we eagerly await the next edition of Flora of Colorado.

Literature Cited:
- Wingate, Janet L., 2017.  

I have successfully used Wingate's (2017) Sedges of Colorado, and I am still learning my way around the book and sedges. The book is really well-illustrated, in the keys, in the species descriptions, and in the supplemental information.
  Two general books that do not specifically address Colorado flora, but that I find really helpful are:

Literature Cited:
- Harrington, H. D. and L. W. Durrell, 1957.  

Harrington and Durrell (1957) is good introduction to identifying plants, and how to collect them. While the references to floras have become really dated, in the center of the book is a list of 25 questions to be answered when identifying plants. I found this idea, i.e., to examine the plant carefully before opening a flora key was very helpful.

Literature Cited:
- Harris, James G., and Melinda Woolf Harris, 2001.  

Harris and Harris (2nd ed., 2001) is a veritable treasure, providing the basis for consistency in describing plants in a very well illustrated and accessible form.

 

 

   

Methods

Data was collected in two ways: online herbarium record search and collecting plants in the field.

 

   

Herbarium Search

Online herbarium search was performed using SEINet (SEINet Portal Network, 2014-2019). Searches were made two ways, one using the locality name “Golden” and the other using geographic coordinates that include the boundary of Golden s.l.. The collection data was entered a Microsoft Access data base. 1125 collections were found in this way.

 

   

Collecting

 
  Data was also collected by making plant collections and observations in the field. Scientific collecting permits were obtained from the City of Golden, Colorado School of Mines, and Jefferson County Open Space.
  Collections were made when the plants were in a condition that permitted making a good quality collection, such as one containing stem, leaves, flowers, and perhaps seed, and when in sufficient quality that never more than one-tenth of the extant plant material was collected. My data set contains 591 collections that I personally made. The author does not make a practice of seeking out or collecting rare plants.
  Observations were made when the amount of plant material was insufficient, or an easily recognizable plant was not in a condition to make a good quality collection, or if there were already collections of the taxon but at other parts of the parcels. My data set contains 563 observations.
  Observations and collections were recorded in a field notebook at the time made. Geographic location was obtained from a Garmin 76CSx GPS receiver, and downloaded using Minnesota Department of Natural Resources DNRGPS. Notebook and GPS data were stored in a Microsoft Access data base and exported to ArcGIS. Collections were transferred to standard botanical presses from a field press. When dry the collections identified, labelled, and distributed to herbaria.
  I plan to continue collecting around Golden s.l. for the foreseeable future. Therefore, this document will continue to change as time passes.
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If you have a question or a comment you may write to me at: tas4@schweich.com I sometimes post interesting questions in my FAQ, but I never disclose your full name or address.  


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Date and time this article was prepared: 9/21/2022 12:45:24 PM