Difference between revisions of "Cirsium scariosum"
m (1 revision)
Revision as of 20:00, 24 October 2013
|Stem external texture||glabrous, gray-tomentose, villous|
|Corolla coloration||white, lavender, purple|
Cirsium scariosum is a widely distributed complex of intergrading races distributed from southwestern Canada to northwestern Mexico. These plants range from acaulescent rosettes with a tight cluster of sessile heads to tall, erect, unbranched plants, or moundlike, more or less openly branched herbs. Acaulescent and caulescent plants sometimes occur in the same population. Members of this complex have been variously treated in the past. F. Petrak (1917) recognized ten species plus several subspecies for the taxa I am treating here as C. scariosum (in the broad sense). In floras, the names C. drummondii and C. foliosum have been widely misapplied to these plants (R. J. Moore and C. Frankton 1964). The latter two species, while clearly related to C. scariosum, have a range restricted mostly to Canada. Moore and Frankton (1967) attempted to bring order to the complex and recognized four species for plants that I include here in C. scariosum: C. acaulescens, C. congdonii, C. coloradense, and C. scariosum in the restricted sense. Moore and Frankton substituted the prior name C. tioganum for C. acaulescens. Unfortunately they did not extend their study widely enough and did not include some members of the complex in their investigations. S. L. Welsh (1982) proposed C. scariosum var. thorneae from Utah and lumped the various species recognized by Moore and Frankton within a highly polymorphic var. scariosum. After consulting with A. Cronquist and studying his manuscript treatment of Cirsium for the Intermountain Flora, D. J. Keil and C. E. Turner (1993) also accepted a broadly construed C. scariosum. Cronquist (1994) treated C. scariosum as an extremely variable species that included the four species recognized by Moore and Frankton plus the variety proposed by Welsh. Cronquist chose to not recognize infraspecific taxa. In the present treatment I have examined these plants from a biogeographic perspective with the goal of discerning regional patterns of variation. The large number of specimens available has allowed me to examine distributional patterns in relation to the topography and biogeographic history of the regions where this species occurs. My field studies also have provided me with observations that help to explain some of the anomalous specimens represented in herbaria. Although the variation within and between populations is sometimes amazing, more-or-less differentiated geographic races can be discerned. Because of the extraordinary and overlapping patterns of variation across the range of Cirsium scariosum, the following key to varieties should be regarded as at best an approximation.