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Angelica grayi
Angelica grayi (Angelica)
Apiaceae (Parsley Family)

Montane, subalpine, alpine. Meadows, woodlands, scree. Summer.
Ophir Pass Road, July 20, 2006.

Angelica grayi grows so scattered that even though its thick stalk stands out against many of the smaller plants in its habitats, it is often overlooked.  Once it is noticed, it is often mistaken for a dwarf, squat form of Loveroot (to which it is related).  It comes into its own with its huge, sparkling, starburst flower.  Above timberline Angelica grayi might grow just 6 inches tall but in rich meadows and Aspen woods (and even on scree slopes) it can be two feet tall.

"Angelica", Latin for "angelic," refers to the supposed medicinal properties of the plant.  "Grayi" is for Asa Gray, 1810-1888, the most important taxonomist of his day and the originator of the Harvard Herbarium.  (More biographical information.)

Angelica grayi (Angelica)
Apiaceae (Parsley Family)

Montane, subalpine, alpine. Meadows, woodlands, scree. Summer.
Lake Hope Trail, August 11, 2009 and Calico Trail, August 19, 2009.

Leaves are divided into leaflets which often are in threes at the bottom of the leaf and twos for the remainder of the leaf.  New leaf stems have a noticeable sheath around the main stem.  Angelica grayi

Angelica grayi
Angelica grayi (Angelica)
Apiaceae (Parsley Family)

Montane, subalpine, alpine. Meadows, woodlands, scree. Summer.
Sharkstooth Trail, July 14, 2004.

Angelica grayi
Angelica grayi (Angelica)
Apiaceae (Parsley Family)

Montane, subalpine, alpine. Meadows, woodlands, scree. Summer.
Spiller/Helmet Mountain Ridge, August 20, 2009.

A very robust Angelica grayi (eighteen inches tall) ends its growing season in fall colors.  Stem color (during the growing season as well as in the fall) can range from green to yellow to maroon.

Angelica pinnata
Angelica pinnata (Angelica)
Apiaceae (Parsley Family)

Montane. Wet meadows and Aspen groves, streamsides. Summer.
Groundhog Meadow Trail, July 31, 2004.

Although Angelica pinnata is found throughout the western San Juans and nearby mountains, it is never a common plant.  It is very slim and lanky, likes moist areas, and is thus often difficult to find among other lush herbage.  The swollen maroon sheaths at the base of the flower stalks attract attention, but the very widely spreading flower head is also quite noticeable and delicately lovely.  The plant can grow to several feet tall.

"Pinnata" is for the pinnate leaves: see the bottom middle of the photograph.

Angelica pinnata

Angelica pinnata

Angelica pinnata (Angelica)
Apiaceae (Parsley Family)

Montane. Wet meadows and Aspen groves, streamsides. Summer.
Groundhog Meadow Trail, July 31, 2004 and Kilpacker Trail, August 3, 2009.

In the top photograph, flowers are in varying stages of development  --  from bud to seed.  In the bottom photograph we are looking at the back side of several flower clusters and can see one of the identifying characteristics of Angelica pinnata:  there are no bracts at the base of each flower cluster.

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Range map for Angelica grayi  

Range map for Angelica pinnata