Lithospermum multiflorum

Wayside Gromwell - Lithospermum multiflorum
Sawyer's Peak Trail
Black Range
New Mexico, USA 
June 11, 2015

We found this Wayside Gromwell, Lithospermum multiflorum, along Sawyers Peak Trail last Thursday.  This species is found at higher elevations in the Black Range.  We found it above 9,000’ and in Colorado, it usually grows between the elevations of 5,500’ and 11,000’.  

It is usually found in Ponderosa Pine forest.  

This species has never been known by another scientific name but it has several other common names, including; Purple Pucoon, Manyflowered Gromwell, and Manyflowered Stoneseed.

The range map, from BONAP, to the right shows the range of this species in the United States, within the counties colored light green, Wayside Gromwell is “present and not rare”.  The species is also found in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico. In Wooton and Standley’s, Flora of New Mexico,  Lithospermum multiflorum is listed as “common in all the higher elevations”.

James Cohen, Amy Litt, and Jerrold Davis studied the growth patterns and influential factors in the development of three Lithospermum species, including the subject species.  The linked article, from the American Journal of Botany is a research paper and quite informative, although slow for me to read.  Much of the research which has been conducted on Lithospermum multiflorum has involved DNA and RNA sequencing and has been for medical purposes.  Such studies have been going on for some time, see J. B. S. Norton’s “A coloring matter found in some Boraginaceae”, published in the American Journal of Pharmacy, 1898, No. 7, as an early example. 

The Navajo used the root of this species for medicinal purposes, other tribes have used the root as a source of purple dye and the seeds were eaten as a food source.

The type specimen for this species was apparently collected during the Geological Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel, 1867 - 1869.  Sereno Watson was responsible for “Volume V - Botany” of the report of that expedition.



© Robert Barnes 2018