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   Packera species were originally placed in the Senecio genus.  The Flora of North America, The Synthesis, Flora of Colorado, Colorado Flora, and Flora Neomexicana III accept Love and Love's 1976 genus name, Packera, but Intermountain Flora and A Utah Flora still accept Senecio as the name of this genus.

   In 2008 J. L. Turner published his re-examination of several Packera species and concluded that those plants previously considered P. neomexicana in Colorado are actually P. thurberi. However, as of 2023 I can find no agreement that Turner is correct other than in the BONAP website where John Kartesz has removed P. neomexicana from Colorado and has replaced it with P. thurberi. Kartesz's distribution map of the latter does not, however, correspond to Turner's map, nor does it correspond to locations of plants previously identified as P. neomexicana.

    In addition, Turner shows neither species in San Miguel, Dolores, Montezuma, and La Plata counties, Colorado, where I have taken a number of photographs which all key out to Packera neomexicana when using all local floras. SEINet also lists several hundred collections of P. neomexicana in southwest Colorado.

    Further, after Turner's work was published in 2008, both Weber (2012) and Ackerfield (2015 and 2022) published new editions of their floras of Colorado and they retain P. neomexicana as a widespread Colored species. P. thurberi is only mentioned in Ackerfield's 2022 edition as an eastern Colorado species. (See two paragraphs below).

    The 2021 edition of Allred's Flora Neomexicana III shows county distributions that differ from those in BONAP and Turner, but does partially agree with Ackerfield's description (below) of the hairiness of the two species. Allred indicates, however, that the upper surface of the leaves of P. neomexicana is "glabrate", not "loosely tomentose". Contrast with Ackerfield's description below.

     The 2022 edition of Ackerfield's Flora of Colorado changed from the 2015 edition and recognized Packera thurberi, but the Flora does not give a range map, only indicating that P. thurberi elevation ranges from 3,500-8,500 feet and that it is "common on the eastern plains". Ackerfield separates P. neomexicana from P. thurberi on the basis of leaf hairs:
P. neomexicana: "Leaves mostly permanently but loosely tomentose, especially below, also with tomentum in the leaf axils."
P. thurberi: "Leaves glabrous, or with some tomentum in the leaf axils."

   All researchers agree that the genus Packera needs detailed genetic analysis to sort out species distinctions. Research as of 2023 has not sorted out the difficulties. P. neomexicana is considered a species of Colorado by top botanists in Colorado and I have, therefore, kept the identification of the plants in the following photographs taken in Colorado as Packera neomexicana.

   John Packer was a Canadian botanist.  (More biographical information about Packer.)

   See more Packera.

   Click to see how Packera is distinguished from Senecio.

This is a native species.

Packera neomexicana
 
Packera neomexicana var. mutabilisSynonyms: Senecio neomexicanus, Packera thurberi. (New Mexico Groundsel, New Mexico Ragwort)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Foothills, montane, subalpine. Woodlands, openings. Summer.
Horse Gulch Trail, June 7, 2004.

As discussed above, many members of the Packera genus are common in the San Juans and nearby mountain ranges, but exact species identification is often difficult because Packera species hybridize. The very common Packera neomexicana is especially variable and it can be difficult to identify. 

P. neomexicana is a very common plant of the mountains in the Four Corners area covered by this website. It enjoys dry hillsides and meadows and often produces an abundance of flowers on each plant and an abundance of plants in a small area. The mass of basal leaves and the elongated stems with few small leaves are characteristic.

Charles Wright collected the first specimens of this plant for science in New Mexico and the plant was first named Senecio neomexicanus by Asa Gray in 1884. William Weber renamed it Packera neomexicana in 1981. Click to see the note about Packeras and Senecios.

Packera neomexicana
Packera neomexicana var. mutabilisSynonyms: Senecio neomexicanus, Packera thurberi. (New Mexico Groundsel, New Mexico Ragwort)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Foothills, montane, subalpine. Woodlands, openings. Summer.
West Mancos Trail, June 1, 2000.

Varying growing conditions and varying genetics produce a variety of leaf shapes and lushness of growth, but the leaves pictured at left are fairly typical of this variety of Packera neomexicana.

Packera neomexicana
Packera neomexicana var. mutabilisSynonyms: Senecio neomexicanus, Packera thurberi. (New Mexico Groundsel, New Mexico Ragwort)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Foothills, montane, subalpine. Woodlands, openings. Summer.
Narraguinnep Natural Area, May 28, 2004.

Packera neomexicana
Packera neomexicana var. mutabilisSynonyms: Senecio neomexicanus, Packera thurberi. (New Mexico Groundsel, New Mexico Ragwort)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Foothills, montane, subalpine. Woodlands, openings. Summer.
Mesa Verde National Park, Prater Ridge Trail, June 3, 2004.

Going and gone to seed.  The white puffs are the pappus hairs which sit at the top of the seeds and carry them on the wind.

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 Packera neomexicana