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Packera werneriifolia

Packera werneriifolia

Packera werneriifolia (Werner's Groundsel)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Subalpine, alpine. Meadows, tundra, scree. Summer.
Sharkstooth Trail, July 18, 2005 and
Calico Trail, August 25, 2014.

In the Four Corners region, Packera werneriifolia is typically found above tree-line in rocky soils.  It often forms 5-12" diameter tight clusters of numerous dark green leaves and dozens of yellow and gold flowers. Leaves, as shown in the second photograph, can also be densely hairy.

This leaf variability is accompanied by other variable morphological characteristics and I actually think it possible that there are several different species with the same name. Compare, for instance, the leaves in this Calflora photo and the leaves and entire plant on SEINet (be sure to click "More Images") with the leaves and plants shown at left.

Packera expert Debra Trock wrote the Flora of North America treatment and she sees these variables as possible for the species: "Packera werneriifolia is morphologically variable; it occurs throughout the central Rockies and, sporadically, as far west as the Sierra Nevada. Leaf morphology varies from ovate, elliptic, or narrowly elliptic in the Rockies to narrow with revolute margins in California and Arizona. All specimens are characteristically scapiform".

Contrary to what Ackerfield indicates in her Flora of Colorado where she says the species occurs down to 6,500 feet in Colorado, Trock indicates that the plant "grows on rocky talus slopes or in sandy soil in forest openings near or above timberline". Ackerfield incorrectly includes Packera mancosana within P. werneriifolia even though the former is found only at 7,600 feet on Mancos Shale.

Packera werneriifolia frequently is in the company of Senecio fremontii which also forms a dense mat topped by very similar appearing flowers.  S. fremontii can be distinguished from P. werneriifolia by carefully observing the leaves: those of S. fremontii are light green, sessile, prominently toothed, and succulent appearing.  Those of P. werneriifolia are dark green, petioled, finely toothed, and thinner.

"Werneriifolia" means "with leaves similar to those of the Asteraceae genus, Werneria", a species not found in the United States.

Hall and Harbour collected this species in Colorado in 1862 and in 1864 Asa Gray named it Senecio aureus, variety werneriaefolius, changing it to Senecio werneriaefolius in 1883.  In 1981 Weber and Löve published their reasoning for changing the genus to "Packera" and the species to "werneriaefolia" and eventually the specific epithet spelling was changed to "werneriifolia". 

Werner was a German geologist. (More biographical information about Werner.)

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

Packera werneriifolia

Packera werneriifolia

Packera werneriifolia (Werner's Groundsel)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Subalpine, alpine. Meadows, tundra, scree. Summer.
Sharkstooth Trail, July 14, 2006 and
Calico Trail, August 25, 2014.

The two photographs at left show the great contrast in leaf hairiness. At first glance the leaves in the top photograph appear glabrous (without hairs, smooth), but a closer look will show scatterings of hairs. These show up as light streaks on the dark green leaf. See especially the leaf in partial shade just to the left of the flowering stem, which is itself quite hairy.

Packera werneriifolia (Werner's Groundsel)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Subalpine, alpine. Meadows, tundra, scree. Summer.
Sharkstooth Trail, July 18, 2005.

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 werneriifolia