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Plants of the Western Slope Aug. 16, 2017

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Photo by Al Schneider© Wild rose

Wild Rose

How time flies! It seems like yesterday when I led a group on this flower walk. But it was really years ago. I can see Jane sitting on her rock, as others walk around her. What a glorious time that was! But my legs gave out and I'm not doing flower walks any longer (more's the pity!).

But this stop, my chosen spot, was along the Old Grand Mesa Road. Here there were aspen turning reddish (I could talk about their root system), and a mixture of aspen and oak. The presence of a multitude of herbaceous flowers first and then we'd discuss the particularities of Rosa woodsii.

According to Weber's Colorado Flora: Western Slope, there are about 25 choices within the family, but only two in the genus (group) of Rosa. It's stated that this group, Rosa woodsii, may occur from the foothills all the way into the subalpine.

A huge range! I can see it (in my mind's eye), covering an entire slope in Nevada. Then there was a hillside in California that displayed Rosa, and a small valley in Utah as well. In short, I've seen it in many, many places. But there was always only one series of petals.

But frequently, the shrubs seem to differ in small ways. There's one here (at this site on Grand Mesa) with fruits (rose hips) that are well over one centimeter in width. In fact, it could have been identified as Rosa nutkana, the northwestern specie.

Weber suggests that Rosa woodsii may be "due to the introgression" with Rosa nutkana. And I'm sure that someone, somewhere is contemplating a revision of the group Rosa! In many ways such progress is necessary, but it's all beyond me now! It was hard enough to learn the Latin names when I studied botany "way back" then. I went for years thinking that the specie name woodsii was for the places where it grew. Turns out that it was named for a person, namely Joseph Woods 1776-1864, an English botanist!

And I know that my site still exists, right off the Old Grand Mesa Road. I hope to visit again this summer!

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Evelyn Horn, Plants of the Western Slope
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