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See Senecio atratus for a discussion of the differences between Senecio, Ligularia, and Packera.

Click for a photograph of the wonderful Colorado location of Senecio inexpectatus.

Senecio blitoides
Senecio blitoides. Synonym: Senecio fremontii variety blitoides. (Alpine Ragwort, Fremont's Ragwort)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Subalpine, alpine. Scree, shale, openings. Summer, fall.
Sharkstooth Trail, July 30, 2004.

This Senecio forms beautifully symmetrical, rounded clusters to several feet in diameter on bare gravel and rock and on scree slopes.  Its thick, succulent-like leaves vary from bright to light green.  An abundance of bright yellow flowers covers the rounded masses of leaves. 

Some alpine trails traverse extensive patches of hundreds of Senecio blitoides plants.  Since Senecio blitoides is usually near or above tree-line and often on bare rock, it is quite conspicuous.  It is often found in the company of the similar appearing Packera werneriifolia. 

Edward Greene named this species Senecio blitoides in 1900 from a collection made by Holm on Mt. Elbert, Colorado, in 1899, Cronquist renamed it Senecio fremontii variety blitoides in 1955, and Nesom renamed it Senecio blitoides in 2019.

"Senecio" is from the Latin, "senes", "old man", and refers to the pappus hairs, the tiny bristle, hair, or awn growth at the apex of the seeds in Asteraceae.

"Blitum" is an old genus name for the plant "Strawberry Blite", Chenopodium capitatum, and "oides" is Greek for "similar to".

John Charles Fremont, 1813-1890, Army General, explorer, and collector inspired many 19th century Americans with his adventures in the West.  Fremont collected a very similar plant, Senecio fremontii "On the Wind River Chain of the Rocky Mountains, just below the limits of perpetual snow" in present day Montana in 1842 and it was named by John Torrey and Asa Gray in 1843. (More biographical information about Fremont.)

Senecio blitoides

Senecio inexpectatus

Senecio blitoides. Synonym: Senecio fremontii variety blitoides. (Alpine Ragwort, Fremont's Ragwort)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)
and
Senecio inexpectatus. Senecio fremontii variety inexpectatus (Prickly Ragwort, Unexpected Ragwort, Fremont's Ragwort)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Subalpine, alpine. Scree, shale, openings. Summer, fall.
Sharkstooth Trail, July 30, 2004.
Below Lizard Head, August 8, 2007.

Ray flower rays sometimes curl, buds are green to maroon, and the edges of the almost succulent leaves are sharply saw-toothed in S. blitoides, the common species in Colorado. 

The bottom photograph at left shows a new Colorado state record and new species, the rare Senecio inexpectatus, previously known only from the La Sal Mountains of southeast Utah.   Leaves of this rare species are deeply cut, almost to the mid-vein, and often there are sharp teeth. Click for more photographs of S. inexpectatus, including its wonderful Colorado location.

Ray flowers in both species shown at left and in Senecio fremontii vary in width about as much as is shown in the two photographs.

Arthur Cronquist, lead author of the Intermountain Flora, named Senecio fremontii variety inexpectatus from a specimen that he and Noel Holmgren (also an Intermountain author) collected "along the crest of the ridge leading from Mt. Peale toward Mt. Mellenthin and Mt. Tukuhnkivatz" in the La Sal Mountains near Moab July 9, 1961. My wife and I found this same taxon about 80 miles southeast of the La Sals on the Cross Mountain Trail below Lizard Head in the San Juan National Forest in the early 2000s. Guy Nesom re-examined the three taxa (fremontii, blitoides, and inexpectatus) and concluded that they were individual species, not varieties.  Click to read the description of Senecio inexpectatus, S. blitoides, and S. fremontii.

Cronquist also named S. fremontii variety blitoides (now Senecio blitoides) in 1955.

Senecio blitoides
Senecio blitoides. Synonym: Senecio fremontii variety blitoides. (Alpine Ragwort, Fremont's Ragwort)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Subalpine, alpine. Scree, shale, openings. Summer, fall.
Sharkstooth Trail, July 18, 2005.

Senecio blitoides
Senecio blitoides
Senecio blitoides. Synonym: Senecio fremontii variety blitoides. (Alpine Ragwort, Fremont's Ragwort)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Subalpine, alpine. Scree, shale, openings. Summer, fall.
Sharkstooth Trail, June 25, 2008 and July 14, 2006.

Young, strongly red-tinged leaves gradually change to green leaves as photosynthesis produces chlorophyll.  Then light green and red-tinged buds will unfold to bright yellow flowers.

Senecio blitoides
Senecio blitoides. Synonym: Senecio fremontii variety blitoides. (Alpine Ragwort, Fremont's Ragwort)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Subalpine, alpine. Scree, shale, openings. Summer, fall.
Colorado Trail, September 7, 2007.

The white pappus hairs are ready to carry the seeds on the first strong winds.

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

Senecio fremontii, blitoides, and inexpectatus

Range map for Senecio fremontii, Senecio blitoides, and Senecio inexpectatus. The range of Senecio fremontii is through the west coast states, Nevada, Idaho, and Montana, i.e., subtract the ranges of S. blitoides and S. inexpectatus shown in the two maps below from all of the ranges shown in the map above. 

Senecio blitoides

Range map for Senecio blitoides

Senecio inexpectatus

Range map for Senecio inexpectatus