Colorado Butterfly plant (Gaura neomexicana var. coloradensis)
Where Listed: WHEREVER FOUND
The Colorado butterfly plant is a member of the evening primrose family and is a short-lived perennial herb with one to several reddish, pubescent stems that are 50–80 centimeters (cm) (2–3 feet) tall. The lower leaves are lance-shaped with smooth or wavy-toothed margins and average 5–15 cm (2–6 inches) long, while those on the stem are smaller and reduced in number. Flowers are arranged in a branched, elongate pattern above the leaves. Only a few flowers are open at any one time and these are located below the rounded buds and above the mature fruits. Individual flowers are 5–14 millimeters (1/4 - 1/2 inches) long with four reddish sepals (modified leaves surrounding the flower) and four white petals that turn pink or red with age. The hard, nutlike fruits are 4-angled and have no stalk. Nonflowering plants consist of a stemless, basal rosette of oblong, hairless leaves 3–18 cm (1–7 inches) long. It is a regional endemic restricted to Laramie and Platte counties in Wyoming, and Larimer, Jefferson, and Weld counties in Colorado. The Colorado butterfly plant is likely extirpated in Nebraska; no plants have been found during surveys of historic known populations in the last few years. Of the known populations of the Colorado butterfly plant, the vast majority occur on private lands managed primarily for agriculture and livestock.
- States/US Territories in which the Colorado Butterfly plant is known to or is believed to occur: Colorado , Nebraska , Wyoming
- US Counties in which the Colorado Butterfly plant is known to or is believed to occur: View All
|Status||Date Listed||Lead Region||Where Listed|
|10/18/2000||Mountain-Prairie Region (Region 6)|
» Federal Register Documents
|Date||Title||Plan Action Status||Plan Status|
|05/25/2010||Colorado Butterfly Plant (Gaura neomexicana coloradensis) Recovery Outline||Recovery efforts in progress, but no implementation information yet to display||Outline|
|Date||Citation Page||Title||Document Type|
|06/20/2011||76 FR 35906 35908||5-Year Status Reviews of 12 Species in the Mountain-Prairie Region||
|12/17/2012||Gaura neomexicana subsp. coloradensis (Colorado butterfly plant) 5-year review|
» Critical Habitat
|Date||Citation Page||Title||Document Type||Status|
|01/11/2005||70 FR 1940 1970||Endangered and threatened wildlife and plants; designation of critical habitat for the colorado butterfly plant; final rule||Final Rule||Final designated|
|08/06/2004||69 FR 47834 47862||endangered and threatened wildlife and plants; designation of critical habitat for the colorado butterfly plant||Proposed Rule||Not Required|
To learn more about critical habitat please see http://ecos.fws.gov/crithab
» Conservation Plans
No conservation plans have been created for Colorado Butterfly plant.
» Life History
The Colorado butterfly plant is an early successional plant (although probably not a pioneer) adapted to use stream channel sites that are periodically disturbed. It occurs on subirrigated, alluvial (stream deposited) soils on level or slightly sloping floodplains and drainage bottoms at elevations of 1,524–1,951 meters (5,000–6,400 feet). Colonies are often found in low depressions or along bends in wide, active, meandering stream channels a short distance upslope of the actual channel. The plant requires early-to mid-succession riparian (river bank) habitat. It commonly occurs in communities dominated by Agrostis stolonifera (redtop) and Poa pratensis (Kentucky bluegrass) on wetter sites, and Glycyrrhiza lepidota (wild licorice), Cirsium flodmanii (Flodman’s thistle), Grindelia squarrosa (curlytop gumweed), and Equisetum laevigatum (smooth scouring rush) on drier sites. Both these habitat types are usually intermediate in moisture between wet, streamside communities dominated by sedges (Carex spp.), rushes (Juncus spp.), and cattails (Typha spp.), and dry, upland shortgrass prairie. Typical Colorado butterfly plant habitat is open, without dense or overgrown vegetation. Salix exigua (coyote willow) and Cirsium arvense (Canada thistle) may become dominant in habitats that are not periodically flooded or otherwise disturbed. The plant occurs on soils derived from conglomerates, sandstones, and tuffaceous mudstones and siltstones of the Tertiary White River, Arikaree, and Oglalla Formations. These soils are common in eastern Colorado and Wyoming.
The Colorado butterfly plant lives in a basal rosette of leaves for several years before bearing fruit once and then dying. The establishment and survival of seedlings appears to be enhanced at sites where tall and dense vegetation has been removed by some form of disturbance. In the absence of occasional disturbance, the plant’s habitat can become choked out by dense growth of willows, grasses, and exotic plants, which prevents new seedlings from becoming established and replacing plants that have died.
The most immediate and severe threat to the plant is the effect of residential and urban development. Haying and mowing at certain times of the year, water development, land conversion for cultivation, competition with exotic plants, non-selective use of herbicides are additional threats to the species.
» Other Resources
NatureServe Explorer Species Reports -- NatureServe Explorer is a source for authoritative conservation information on more than 50,000 plants, animals and ecological communtities of the U.S and Canada. NatureServe Explorer provides in-depth information on rare and endangered species, but includes common plants and animals too. NatureServe Explorer is a product of NatureServe in collaboration with the Natural Heritage Network.
ITIS Reports -- ITIS (the Integrated Taxonomic Information System) is a source for authoritative taxonomic information on plants, animals, fungi, and microbes of North America and the world.
FWS Digital Media Library -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Digital Library is a searchable collection of selected images, historical artifacts, audio clips, publications, and video.