Erysimum capitatum

Western Wallflower - Erysimum capitatum
Sawyers Peak Trail
Black Range
New Mexico, USA 

We found the Western Wallflower (a.k.a. Wallflower, Sanddune Wallflower, and Prairie Rocket), Erysimum capitatum, pictured here, along Sawyer Peak Trail in August of 2014.  The variety of common names reflects the wide range of this species.  This is probably E. c. purshii, but here I venture in to the netherworld of plant taxonomy, based on my experience, it is something I should avoid doing - especially when the taxonomy of a plant is unsettled as is the case here (there are 73 synonyms for this subspecies), including Cheirinia desertorum by Elmer Wooton, the New Mexican taxonomist.   E. c. purshii is found in the western United States (except Oregon and Washington) as well as Alaska and Yukon, Canada, south into Mexico (Chihuahua, Michoacán, Sonora, and Zacatecas).  It is found in a wide range of elevation, 3,000' to 11,500').

Russ Kleinman notes that “there is a noticeable gradation in flower color from more yellow to orange as one ascends in altitude.”

Ants are, apparently, the main pollinators of this species but there are significant numbers of other pollinators as well.

The Zuni used this plant in an external application for muscle aches.  

This species was first described by David Douglas.  Douglas, a Scottish botanist, is a legend in the Pacific Northwest of the United States where I have a lot of experience.  He made several significant collecting trips in the Pacific Northwest, as well as to Hawaii.  More than 80 plant species contain his name in recognition of his work, including the Douglas Fir.  His travels in North America are detailed in Journal Kept By David Douglas in North America 1823-1827


Carbonate Creek, Black Range, New Mexico, USA

Sawyers Peak Trail, Black Range, June 30, 2019
Photograph immediately above and two below

© Robert Barnes 2018-2023