WILDFLOWERS OF NEW MEXICO

 
 

Standing 1–2 feet tall with branching stems and clusters of brilliant yellow blooms, this showy flower dots mountain meadows and open woodlands with nuggets of gold. Note the 3 leaflets and spikes of pea-like flowers.


FLOWERS: May–June. Erect, spike-like clusters, 3–10-inches long (7–25 cm), with up to 20+ golden, bilaterally symmetrical flowers, each 3/4–1-inch long (20–25 mm); 5 petals with an upper banner, 2 side wings and a lower keel formed by 2 petals. Seed pods are erect, straight or curved depending on species or variety classification.


LEAVES: Alternate. Palmately compound, stem (petiole) 3/8–1 1/2-inches long (8–37 mm) tipped with 3 elliptic to lance-shaped leaflets 3/4–3 1/2-inches long (21–92 mm).


HABITAT: Moist sandy, gravelly, clay soils, mountain meadows, open forests; pinyon-juniper, ponderosa-Douglas fir, spruce-fir forests.


ELEVATION: 6,200–11,200 feet.


RANGE: Widespread from Rocky Mountains westward.


SIMILAR SPECIES: The golden flowers and leaves with 3 leaflets make this plant distinctive, but various sources classify it as one species with 3 varieties or 2 or 3 species, depending on pod shape. T. montana has erect, straight pods; T. rhombifolia var. divaricarpa has erect, curved pods; T. rhombifolia var. rhombifolia has hooked pods.


NM COUNTIES: Widespread statewide in mid- to high-elevation moist, open habitats: Bernalillo, Catron, Cibola, Colfax, Grant, Hidalgo, Lincoln, Los Alamos, McKinley, Mora, Otero, Rio Arriba, San Juan, San Miguel, Santa Fe, Sandoval, Sierra, Socorro, Taos, Torrance, Union, Valencia.

GOLDEN  PEA

THERMOPSIS  MONTANA

(THERMOPSIS  RHOMBIFOLIA  VAR.  MONTANA)

Legume Family, Fabaceae

Perennial herb

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