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Elkweed (Frasera speciosa)
Perennial Forbs Around Las Vegas, Vegetation Around Las Vegas
Elkweed (Frasera speciosa)

General: Elkweed (Frasera speciosa) is a perennial forb more at home in mountain meadows and open woodlands than in the desert mountains of southern Nevada. In flower, the plant has an erect stem that grows to about 6-feet tall; long, whorled leaves around the stem; and large, showy, complex, 4-part, greenish flowers with purple spots.

Elkweed is an uncommon component of montane vegetation communities that can be found in gravelly and rocky soils on cool north facing slopes and in sheltered areas on rocky mountain sides in the Canadian (Pine-Fir Forest) life zone. I know of this species only from the Pleistocene relict Pine-Fir Forest on the northeast side of Virgin Peak where it grows among a stand of Douglas Fir and White Fir left over from the ice age, implying that this species might also be a Pleistocene relict here.

Elkweed (Frasera speciosa)

Family: Gentian (Gentianaceae).

Other Names: Showy frasera, monument plant, Swertia radiata

Plant Form: Basal leaves and an erect flower stalk.

Height: Flower stalk 3 to 6 feet tall.

Stems: Single, thick flowering stalk (to 3/4 inch diameter near base)

Leaves: Basal leaves to 20-inches long and 6-inches wide; leaves on the stem whorled, oblong, with pointed tips (not sharp).

Elkweed (Frasera speciosa)

Flowers: Blooms during summer. Inflorescence: numerous flowers borne at each leaf node along the stem. Pedicels to 4-inches long. Flowers: large and complex; flower parts in 4s, set at right angles; yellowish green with purple-dots.

Seeds: Fruit: capsule. Seeds: many.

Habitat: Usually found in mountain meadows and open woodlands. In southern Nevada, found on steep, dry, well-drained gravelly and rocky soils in the higher mountains. I know of this species only from the northeast side of Virgin Peak where it occurs among a Pleistocene relict stand of Douglas Fir and White Fir.

Elkweed (Frasera speciosa)

Elevation: 5,000 to 10,000 feet.

Distribution: Western U.S. mountains from California to Washington, South Dakota, and New Mexico.

Comments: This species may be a Pleistocene relict.

Elkweed (Frasera speciosa) Elkweed (Frasera speciosa)
Elkweed (Frasera speciosa) Elkweed (Frasera speciosa)
Elkweed (Frasera speciosa) Elkweed (Frasera speciosa)
Elkweed (Frasera speciosa) Elkweed (Frasera speciosa)
Elkweed (Frasera speciosa) Elkweed (Frasera speciosa)
Elkweed (Frasera speciosa) Elkweed (Frasera speciosa)
Elkweed (Frasera speciosa) Elkweed (Frasera speciosa)
Elkweed (Frasera speciosa) Elkweed (Frasera speciosa)
Elkweed (Frasera speciosa) more to come ...
Elkweed (Frasera speciosa) Elkweed (Frasera speciosa)

Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate. Names generally follow the USDA database.
copyright; Last updated 101029

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