WILDFLOWER HOME PAGE      SEARCH BY PLANT NAME      YELLOW FLOWERS     CONTACT US



   The two species of Oreoxis shown on this page are very similar in habitat and morphology.  The differences are minute and the primary distinguishing characteristic is that the bractlets (involucels) of O. alpina taper to a point whereas some or all of the bractlets of O. bakeri are deeply toothed.  Both species can have purplish tinges on their bractlets, although this is more common for O. bakeri and both have bractlets that are united at the base, but O. bakeri typically has more of the bractlet united.

O. alpina leaves are sparsely to densely hairy; those of O. bakeri are glabrous. The flower rays elongate from about .5 to 4mm for O. alpina and from about 2 to 8 mm for O. bakeri.  

Both species of Oreoxis can easily be mistaken for Podistera eastwoodiae but a careful look at the leaves of the latter will show them to be thin, bright green, incised and then incised again, and fan-shaped.  Oreoxis leaves are generally thicker, incised once, and flattened, not fan-shaped. Also, the flowers of Podistera eastwoodiae are often a much brighter yellow.

See also the similar genera Lomatium and Cymopterus.

Oreoxis alpina

Oreoxis alpina.  Synonym: Cymopterus alpina.  (Alpine Parsley)
Apiaceae (Parsley Family)

Montane to tundra. Summer.
Colorado Trail, July 6, 2009.

Clusters of these dwarf Apiaceae lined the Colorado Trail at 10,600 feet, yet they are so minute that I walked right past them. My wife, Betty, is an amazing flower spotter and she noticed them immediately.

It is interesting that although this species is named O. alpina it occurs from about 2,300 to 3,700 meters, whereas the following species, O. bakeri, occurs from 3,500 to 4,000 meters. As the discussion at the top of this page indicates, the two plants are morphologically almost identical. (I wonder if they really are distinct species.)

The plant was first named Cymopterus alpinus by Asa Gray in 1862 from a collection made by Charles Parry in the "headwaters of Clear Creek, and alpine ridges lying e. of Middle Park, Colorado" (probably in 1861). (Quotation from Intermountain Flora.)

Oreoxis alpina

Oreoxis alpina.  Synonym: Cymopterus alpina.  (Alpine Parsley)
Apiaceae (Parsley Family)

Montane to tundra. Summer.
Colorado Trail, July 6, 2009.

Oreoxis alpina

Oreoxis alpina.  Synonym: Cymopterus alpina.  (Alpine Parsley)
Apiaceae (Parsley Family)

Montane to tundra. Summer.
Colorado Trail, July 6, 2009.

Compare the thin green and purple bractlets shown in this photograph with the bractlets of O. bakeri shown shown below.

Oreoxis alpina

Oreoxis alpina.  Synonym: Cymopterus alpina.  (Alpine Parsley)
Apiaceae (Parsley Family)

Montane to tundra. Summer.
Colorado Trail, July 6, 2009.

In his A Utah Flora, Stanley Welsh says of O. alpina, "Plants 2.5-11.5 cm tall... from a branched caudex, the caudex clothed with persistent leaf bases". The leaf bases are red in the photograph and come toward the camera at the bottom of the photograph and also arch upward above these.

Oreoxis bakeri

Oreoxis bakeri

Oreoxis bakeri.  Synonym: Cymopterus bakeri.  (Alpine Parsley)
Apiaceae (Parsley Family)

Sub-alpine to tundra. Summer.
Sharkstooth Trail, June 26, 2008.

Oreoxis bakeri can be very common on tundra, but since it is often no more than an inch or two high, it goes unnoticed unless it is in flower. Then the ground may be dotted with hundreds of golden orbs and easily attract your attention. When not in flower, it just looks like some kind of green ground cover not worth bending to examine. But that's the trick. Make the bend and find another tiny beauty.

It is very easy to confuse O. bakeri with O. alpina shown above and with Podistera eastwoodiae.

"Oros" is Greek for "mountains" and "bakeri" is for C. F. Baker, botanist, who collected extensively in Western Colorado.  He collected this plant near Pagosa Peak in Colorado, probably in the late 1890s.  It was first named Oreoxis bakeri by John Coulter and Joseph Rose in 1900 and then named Cymopterus bakeri by Marcus Jones in 1908. (More biographical information about Baker.)

Oreoxis bakeri

Oreoxis bakeri.  Synonym: Cymopterus bakeri.  (Alpine Parsley)
Apiaceae (Parsley Family)

Sub-alpine to tundra. Summer.
Sharkstooth Trail, June 26, 2008.

Flowers are typically pale yellow and often recline.

Oreoxis bakeri
Oreoxis bakeri

Oreoxis bakeri.  Synonym: Cymopterus bakeri.  (Alpine Parsley)
Apiaceae (Parsley Family)

Sub-alpine to tundra. Summer.
Sharkstooth Trail, June 26, 2008.

As discussed above, the bractlets of O. bakeri are cut several times at their tips, those of O. alpina come to a single point.  The leaves are nearly identical.

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 Oreoxis alpina

Range map for Oreoxis bakeri