Nov. 21, 2019

Taxing taxonomy

A few days ago we looked at a hawkweed that challenges taxonomists because of its reproductive habits. In the western mountains, the habitat you see here creates similar issues. It can be very difficult to classify plants that are similar and separated by valleys and mountains. They start to diversify because their cross pollination is limited. Varileaf cinquefoil is an example. The Colorado botanist, William Weber, accepts this for Colorado. USDA has varieties spread from GL to AK, south into Mexico. More recently, Ertter and Reveal in FNA call this P. townsendii, but limit its range to AZ, NM, and south. Of the Colorado plants, they say "the best disposition of the problematic plants is uncertain".