Undeniably splendid... Oxytropis splendens

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Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27
Undeniably splendid... Oxytropis splendens

Our native Oxytropis splendens is certainly well-named! The dense covering of long silky hairs makes the entire plant look as though it's been dipped in silver. The scapes are delightfully furry (forgive my uncharacteristic gushing but they are as cute as baby animals!) and then as the flowers emerge, they are punctuated by the perfect compliment of bright pink-purple petals that dry to blue. It is even readily recognizable - I can't say that about all the oxytropis here - with the distinctive whorled leaflets! Bonus!
This plant turns some of the roadcut slopes in the foothills to fuchsia in season. Unfortunately, I don't have any good pix from the wild, so these from the garden (where it is perfectly well-behaved) will have to do for now.

Hoy
Hoy's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-15

Hi Lori!

What a beauty! This one looks like taking freezing temperatures well?

Trond
Rogaland, Norway - with cool, often rainy summers  (29C max) and mild, often rainy winters (180 cm/year)!

Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27

Yes, it's a native plant that occurs across the Canadian prairie grasslands in areas where it gets to -45 deg C, as well as into the montane and lower alpine areas in the Alberta Rockies.  According to the (loose) range description in Moss & Packer, it also ranges from Alaska, Yukon, Mackenzie District to Lake Superior and south to SE BC, New Mexico, North Dakota and northern Minnesota. 

Here's the USDA range map:
http://plants.usda.gov/java/nameSearch?keywordquery=oxytropis+splendens&...

Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Zone 3
-30 C to +30 C (rarely!); elevation ~1130m; annual precipitation ~40 cm

Hoy
Hoy's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-15

Thanks! Looks as if this one will stand a real Norwegian winter! Do you know if it is possible to get seed anywhere?

Trond
Rogaland, Norway - with cool, often rainy summers  (29C max) and mild, often rainy winters (180 cm/year)!

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Skulski wrote:

Yes, it's a native plant that occurs across the Canadian prairie grasslands in areas where it gets to -45 deg C, as well as into the montane and lower alpine areas in the Alberta Rockies.  According to the (loose) range description in Moss & Packer, it also ranges from Alaska, Yukon, Mackenzie District to Lake Superior and south to SE BC, New Mexico, North Dakota and northern Minnesota.   

Here's the USDA range map:
http://plants.usda.gov/java/nameSearch?keywordquery=oxytropis+splendens&...

I've seen photos of this plant that don't look nearly as beautiful as yours!  It is indeed splendid.  Regarding the species range, I always find problems with the USDA maps, invariably missing some portions of a plant's true distributional range.  Whenever researching plants commonly found throughout the entire eastern half of USA, curiously they frequently omit showing these plants as being found in New England, when indeed they are.  So, here is a link from the Natural Resources Canada site... it is very long, so I hope the link works.  The map is "zoomable". I have also uploaded a screen capture where I zoomed into the eastern Canadian Provinces and northern New England, showing the species is found all the way to the East,  maybe Todd will let us know if he's found it locally.

https://glfc.cfsnet.nfis.org/mapserver/phmapper/map.phtml?LAYERS=56014,5...

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27

Wow, thank you for that link, Mark!  I will definitely be bookmarking it.  (How ironic that it is not one that I have already.)  Needless to say, I had no idea of the full distribution of O. splendens, either!  (I did note that the USDA maps can tend to exaggerate the range by "suggesting" that a plant may occur through an entire state or province when it may only sneak into a corner of it, or be restricted by habitat.)

Trond, I'll check if I still have seed left, and can send you some if so... or next year in late summer/fall, if I have none left.  

Todd's comments will likely be helpful re. climate preferences for this one... (something we have talked about previously).

Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Zone 3
-30 C to +30 C (rarely!); elevation ~1130m; annual precipitation ~40 cm

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Skulski wrote:

Wow, thank you for that link, Mark!  I will definitely be bookmarking it.  (How ironic that it is not one that I have already.)  Needless to say, I had no idea of the full distribution of O. splendens, either!  (I did note that the USDA maps can tend to exaggerate the range by "suggesting" that a plant may occur through an entire state or province when it may only sneak into a corner of it, or be restricted by habitat.)

You're right, if a plant even just pokes its nose into the one tiny corner of a state like... Texas, the entire state gets shaded green in the UDSA maps.  Look at the link I gave, and you'll see that the range down the Rockies into southwestern USA is much more spotty than the shaded-by-state map would indicate.  I'm not sure how the USDA vets their information on maps, but almost always when I check them out, I find major omissions in the cited distributional ranges.  I thought it interesting that O. splendens is found in upper New York State, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Hoy
Hoy's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-15

Skulski wrote:

Trond, I'll check if I still have seed left, and can send you some if so... or next year, if I have none left.  

Thanks! I appreciate that!

Trond
Rogaland, Norway - with cool, often rainy summers  (29C max) and mild, often rainy winters (180 cm/year)!

Kelaidis
Kelaidis's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-02-03

Oxytropis splendens occurs in great abundance all around South Park (which we shall traverse the Monday of this summer's conference) and above treeline all over the Mosquito and Sawatch ranges, which will be where our field trips take place. I think it will be virtually impossible to attend this meeting in July and NOT see hundreds if not thousands of this plant: a good reason to attend, no?

For every minion of the peaks there are a dozen steppe children growing in the dry Continental heart of all hemispheres still unknown to horticulture.

Anne Spiegel
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-01-26

Panayoti, you're making me almost regret that we'll be in the Dolomites during the Salida Conference.  I do miss the Mosquitos and its surroundings.

Kelaidis
Kelaidis's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-02-03

The Dolomites, eh? I feel so SORRY for you Ann!

I'd feel sorrier if an old friend of mine hadn't married an Italian who has a home in the Dolomites and has invited us to visit! Hurrah!

For every minion of the peaks there are a dozen steppe children growing in the dry Continental heart of all hemispheres still unknown to horticulture.

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