Mertensia humilis

(Rocky Mountain Bluebells)

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Mertensia humilis, Lower Cataract Lake, Summit Co. 6622

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Mertensia humilis, Lower Cataract Lake, Summit Co. 6646

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Mertensia humilis, Lower Cataract Lake, Summit Co. 6642

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Mertensia humilis, Lower Cataract Lake, Summit Co. 6637

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Mertensia humilis, Lower Cataract Lake, Summit Co. 6675

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Leaves, Mertensia humilis, Lower Cataract Lake, Summit Co. 6631

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Leaf closeup, Mertensia humilis, Lower Cataract Lake, Summit Co. 6628

Scientific Name Mertensia humilis USDA PLANTS Symbol MEHU2
Common Name Rocky Mountain Bluebells ITIS Taxonomic Serial No. 31670
Family Boraginaceae (Forget-me-not) SEINet
Reference
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Description Life zones and habitat: Foothills and montane (5200 to 9600 ft). Sagebrush meadows.
Plant: Low-growing perennial, one or more prostrate to ascending stems; up to 8 inches tall.
Leaves: Rather thick basal and stem leaves 5/8 to 2-3/8 inches long and less than 1/4 to 5/8 inches wide; basal leaves ovate to oblong-lanceolate and petiolate; stem leaves alternate, oblong-lanceolate and nearly sessile; leaf surfaces hairless and covered with small pustules; lateral veins are not very obvious.
Inflorescence: Compact clusters of downward-pointing dark to pale blue, sometimes pinkish, bell-shaped flowers; calyx 1/8 to 1/4-inch long, corolla 1/4-inch long or less.
Bloom Period: May and June.
References: "Flora of Colorado" by Jennifer Ackerfield and Colorado Rare Plant Guide.
Note: This identification is problematic because M. humilis has not been noted in Summit County in the literature, the nearest location is in adjacent Grand County. However, the leaves have the distinctive pustules found in this species. The following characteristics are noted in the images but without support in the literature:
(a)The calyx is smooth with ciliate lobe edges; lobes divided to ~2/3 way to the base.
(b) The corolla limb and tube are about the same length.
(c) The stamens are very short with the anthers reaching only the level of the fornices.
(d) The upper leaves have ciliate margins.
BONAP Distribution Map
Colorado Status:
Native

© Tom Lebsack 2022

Banner photo: Ten Mile Range and Rhodiola integrifolia (King’s Crown) in Summit County