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Phemeranthus confertiflorus

Phemeranthus confertiflorus

Phemeranthus confertiflorus

Phemeranthus confertiflorus

Phemeranthus confertiflorus

Phemeranthus confertiflorus

Phemeranthus confertiflorus.  Synonyms: Phemeranthus parviflorus, Talinum confertiflorum. (Rocky Mountain Rockpink, Rocky Mountain Fameflower).
Montiaceae (Miner's Lettuce Family)

Semi-desert, foothills, montane. Gravels, openings. Spring, summer, fall.
Echo Basin, July 7, 2016 and Mesa Verde National Park, Wetherill Mesa, August 25, 2016.

Tiny Phemeranthus confertiflorus is a delight to find, but you almost certainly will not find it unless you walk, stooped over, at less than a snail's pace. That's how Betty, Carolyn, and I found these plants.

Phemeranthus confertiflorus can grow to 20 cm tall, but the plants shown on this page are just 3-12 cm. Leaves are thick and no more than 10 cm long; those shown here are 3-5 cm long.

Flowers are ephemeral, hence the name, so when you are looking for Phemeranthus confertiflorus you want to look for the plant's leaves, not its flowers.

The species' favorite habitat is that shown on this page  --  gravelly areas in the cracks of large expanses of rock. The photographs at the top of the page give you an idea of the habitat  --  and the difficulty in finding this miniature.

Even though the expanse of rock shown above did nurture dozens of Phemeranthus confertiflorus, none had open flowers. The second photograph at left shows one of more than a dozen plants we found that had a few flower buds, a number of maturing seed pods, but no fully opened flowers. We were there at the wrong time for flowers. Phemeranthus expert David Ferguson explains:

Flowers in all species [of Phemeranthus] are normally open for an hour or two during only one day, and in all species flowers open at a specific time of day (mostly afternoon).

Flowers are usually white, but may vary to pink.

The ephemeral flowering of this species gave rise to the genus name  --  or so it would seem. Greek gives us "ephemer", "for a day" or "temporary", but Greek also gives us "phem", "to speak" or "to report" and the Greek goddess of fame was Pheme. The plant is often commonly called "Fame Flower", but it is just as often called the derivative, "Flame Flower". Since Phemeranthus often grows in rocky areas and some species of Phemeranthus are pink, another common name is "Rockpink". Could common names be more confused and confusing?

"Anthus" is Greek for "flower" and "confertiflorus" means "with crowded flowers".

Phemeranthus confertiflorus was first named Talinum confertifolium by Edwin Greene in 1881 from a collection he made in Grant County, New Mexico in 1880. M. A. Hershkovitz moved the species to the Phemeranthus genus in 1997. For decades many floras have called the species in our area, Phemeranthus (or Talinum) parviflorus. Research has shown the two species (Phemeranthus confertiflorus and Phemeranthus parviflorus) to be quite distinct with the latter found scattered through the middle U.S. states and Phemeranthus confertiflorus found west of there, as the maps below show.

The Phemeranthus genus was named by Rafinesque in 1801.

We found the plants shown on this page at 9,200'. Most floras give the species' range as about 4,800' to 8,200', with Ackerfield going as low as 3,500' and Ferguson indicating "usually found above desert and below subalpine areas".

For an excellent review and key to the Phemeranthus genus, see Ferguson's article in the "New Mexico Botanist".

Click to see some of Patrick Alexander's nice photographs of the Phemeranthus confertiflorus flower. You will notice that the flower can be white or light pink.

Phemeranthus confertiflorus

Phemeranthus confertiflorus

Phemeranthus confertiflorus.  Synonyms: Phemeranthus parviflorus, Talinum confertiflorum. (Rocky Mountain Rockpink, Rocky Mountain Fameflower).
Montiaceae (Miner's Lettuce Family)

Semi-desert, foothills, montane. Gravels, openings. Spring, summer, fall.
Echo Basin, July 7, 2016.

Most Phemeranthus confertiflorus plants growing in the large rock expanse shown at the top of the page were rooted into a very gravelly surface in shallow depressions in the larger rock surface. Some of the depressions had soil and moss surfaces where Phemeranthus confertiflorus was somewhat more abundant.

The expanse of rock shown in the top photographs were home to dozens of plants that had no flowering stems.

Phemeranthus confertiflorus

Phemeranthus confertiflorus.  Synonyms: Phemeranthus parviflorus, Talinum confertiflorum. (Rocky Mountain Rockpink, Rocky Mountain Fameflower).
Montiaceae (Miner's Lettuce Family)

Semi-desert, foothills, montane. Gravels, openings. Spring, summer, fall.
Echo Basin, July 7, 2016.

Various floras indicate that Phemeranthus confertiflorus roots are "tuberous", but as this photograph makes clear, the plant is (or at least, can be) also rhizomatous, i.e., it has shallow (sometimes exposed) horizontal root-like structures from which new plants arise at nodes. Exposed rhizomes were 8-12 cm long and 3-5 mm wide. Most plants in the expanse of rock shown in the top photographs occurred in rhizomatous colonies.

Phemeranthus confertiflorus

Phemeranthus confertiflorus.  Synonyms: Phemeranthus parviflorus, Talinum confertiflorum. (Rocky Mountain Rockpink, Rocky Mountain Fameflower).
Montiaceae (Miner's Lettuce Family)

Semi-desert, foothills, montane. Gravels, openings. Spring, summer, fall.
Echo Basin, October 2, 2016.

By mid-fall, plants have withered and disappeared or they persist for just a short time with yellows and bits of green. Buff-colored flower stems sprawl in all directions.

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

Phemeranthus confertiflorus

Range map for Phemeranthus confertiflorus

Phemeranthus parviflorus

Range map for Phemeranthus parviflorus