Primula rusbyi

Rusby's Primrose,  Primula rusbyi
 Below the summit of Hillsboro Peak, Black Range, New Mexico
May 25, 2015

One of the flowering plants that we encountered on our walk to Hillsboro Peak on May 25, 2015 was Rusby’s Primrose, Primula rusbyi.  This species is found in the mountains of New Mexico and Arizona in the United States and southward through the mountains of Mexico, possibly as far as Guatemala.  

This beautiful little flower is found in moist areas at elevations between 7,000’ and 10,000’.  It typically blooms in the summer.

At times, this species has been named Primula ellisiae, Primula rusbyi var. ellisiae, and Primula serra.  Some of the travails of botanical identification are noted in this entry from the Flora of North America:  “Some individuals from the Sandia Mountains of New Mexico have a shorter corolla tube more or less equal to the calyx; these plants have been described as P. ellisiae. A single population can include individuals of both types, and the difference probably represents only a developmental stage of the flowers or minor morphological variation in some localized populations; preliminary genetic analyses (S. Kelso and P.  Beardsley, unpubl.) reveal no substantive genetic distinction between these individuals and those from elsewhere in the range.”

This species was first described by Edward Lee Greene in 1881, from a specimen collected by H. H. Rusby high in the Mogollon Mountains of New Mexico.  Greene started as a plant collector (for Asa Gray, George Engelmann...) but later became a renowned botanist and taxonomist, teaching at the University of California - Berkeley (including a period as the Chair of the Botany Department there) and Catholic University.  He became an associate in botany at the Smithsonian Institute in the early 1900’s.

Greene’s original description of this species, from The Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club, Volume 8, page 122, 1881 is included below.

Sawyer's Peak Trail Black Range New Mexico, USA
Immediately above and two below.

IMG_2306

South of Iron Creek Campground Black Range, NM, USA
Immediately above and all below.

DSC00621
DSC00620


© Robert Barnes 2018