Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter daisies (a few days later)...

Townsendia eximia on West Spanish Peak

This is the peak season for easter daisies--which are aptly named: they bloom for such a long spell (beginning in March almost every year and lasting to May) that they can be pretty much be guaranteed to bloom at easter. The specimen above is an exception: I believe that was photographed in late summer (it's naturally a later bloomer, especially in its alpine home), but most of the rest of these were photographed this week at my home garden.

Townsendia nuttallii in a trough
There is a long complicated story involving this plant. Suffice it to say (mea culpa) this was distributed as T. spathulata decades ago when Gwen Moore and I ran Rocky Mountain Rare Seeds: that species and T. nuttallii were both recorded from Limestone Mountain in the Wind River Mountains where we collected what we thought were both. We assumed this distinctive one was spathulata, and a narrow leaves congener there was nuttallii: the third species I now realize was Townsendia hookeri: there were three townsendias on this mountain I reckon. So confusion has reigned: here is my feeble attempt to make amends.

Townsendia nuttallii
Albeit it's not the little wooly tuffet of spathulata (see below), it is nevertheless a gorgeous little thing.

Townsendia spathulata
I believe this is the real McCoy--surely one of the loveliest of rock garden gems. Blooming for me for the first time: thanks, Bill Adams, for giving me this!

Townsendia leptotes Jeanie
This was collected originally in Easternmost Montana by Jeanie Anderson, a rock gardener from Idaho Falls: we've grown this for decades--one of the showiest of the genus. Blooming this week as well.

Townsendia hookeri
A picture I took years ago of the commonest townsendia of the plains. It's still blooming in  a trough in my garden--this is a picture I took near Denver about this time of year.

Townsendia scapigera

I grew this for years: this looks like an intermediate between Townsendia condensata and T. parryi...only it is perennial (albeit a short lived one) and those other worthy species are both biennial. I grew this for years, harvested lots of seed, but I suddenly realize they are all gone now. One of the best!

Townsendia sp. ign. Rock Alpine Garden

This species is dotted all over one of the crevice gardens at Denver Botanic Gardens. Mike Kintgen believes it was grown from seed collected near treeline on the Flattops plateau three or so years by myself: I assumed it was T. hookeri when I collected it, which it clearly is not: what could it be?

Townsendia florifer

I collected the seed of this floriferous biennial (well named) not far from Mt. Borah in Idaho. I grew it a few years and forgot to collect and sow seeds one more time.

These are just a few of the striking Townsendias that grace the West. Colorado moreover is almost the epicenter of the genus: no wonder I love them so...that and the fact that they grace my gardens for weeks in late winter and early spring...
P.S. My buddy Scott Smith read this blog and noted that he had Townsendia glabella blooming right now (one of my favorites). Although I have many transparencies of this from nature, I've not scanned them : glad to add this to my little rogues' gallery of Easter Daisies!


  1. I have two Townsendias in my garden. The first is Townsendia spathulata. I have five individuals and all have survived our terrible winter in good form. The second is Townsendia jonesii var. lutea. These plants did not survive the winter as well. I am now down to one plant. I sowed T. condensata directly into the garden, but none germinated the first year. It is likely I won't see the T. condensata germinate because I made some changes to the rock garden that likely buried the seed. Overall I am happy that I have been able to grow a Townsendia from Utah in north Illinois. It will be a great day when they finally bloom.


  2. You certainly go for the gusto! You don't get any more challenging or high alpine Townsendias than the ones you mentioned (except for leptotes, alpigena and rothrockii are also alpine--but easier than the ones you tried). I'm frankly astonished you succeeded with these. You must post me pix of your spathulata when it blooms to compare...

    1. I purchased the seed from Alplains. The catalog has a nice picture of T. spathulata. I expect my plants should look like the plant shown in the catalog.



  3. I'm growing Townsendia montana v. caelilinensis since I always think it's a good idea to grow things from the neighborhood, especially when they are so nice.

    Based on a cursory google image search, the T. nuttallii/spathulata mix up is very persistent. I think I like the fuzzy ball of T. nuttallii more than its flower.


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