Friday, September 17, 2010

Herrickia horrida (Canadian River spiny aster)

Herrickia horrida

CNHP botanist Jill Handwerk and conservation planner Lee Grunau recently took a trip down to Lake Dorothy State Wildlife Area on the Colorado-New Mexico border to search for rare plants. Situated on the southern flank of Fishers Peak Mesa near Raton Pass, the area features thickly wooded canyons filled with oak and mixed conifer.

Lake Dorothy State Wildlife Area
Lake Dorothy State Wildlife Area

Jill took these photos of Herrickia horrida (=Eurybia horrida) the Canadian River spiny aster. This narrow regional endemic G2 plant is found only in the upper Canadian River basin, primarily in northern New Mexico, and a small area in Las Animas County, southern Colorado. The genus name of this plant honors Clarence L. Herrick, geologist, amateur botanist, and president of the University of New Mexico from 1897 to 1901. The specific epithet horrida refers to the prickly or spiny holly-like leaves – the plants are actually rather attractive.

close-up of Herrickia horrida leaves
What's so horrid about that?

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