WILDFLOWERS OF NEW MEXICO

 

This stemless, mat-forming, woody plant forms 6–20-inch wide cushions on harsh, treeless alpine tundra and windswept subalpine ridges. Masses of tiny, bright pink to lavender flowers often completely cover the mounded plant. The ground-hugging stems and dense mass of crowded leaves protect the buds from frigid temperatures and harsh winds. Like many alpine plants, this stunning beauty blooms for only a few weeks soon after snowmelt.


FLOWER: June–August. Flowers 1/2–inch wide (12 mm) with 5 pink to lavender, or rarely white, oval petals; tips entire or notched.


LEAVES: Mostly basal. Opposite to overlapping,  densely crowded  on stems. Blade linear to lance-shaped, 3/16–3/8 inch long (4-10 mm), 1/16–inch wide (1.5 mm).


HABITAT: Gravelly soils, rocky outcrops, ledges, treeless disturbed areas; subalpine ridges, alpine tundra.


ELEVATION: 9,800–12,700 feet.


RANGE: AL, AZ, CO, ID, MT, NM, NC, OR, UT, WA; high arctic of Canada, Europe, and Asia.

SIMILAR SPECIES: The treeless habitat, mat-forming growth, and pink flowers distinguish this plant.


NM COUNTIES: Northern NM mountains in high-altitude, moist habitats: Colfax, Mora, Rio Arriba, San Miguel, Santa Fe, Taos.

MOSS  CAMPION

SILENE  ACAULIS

Pink Family, Caryophyllaceae

Perennial herb

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Tiny opposite, lance-shaped  leaves densely cover the stems.

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