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Scrophularia macrantha
(Mimbres figwort)

[taxon report][distribution map][all photos][line drawing]



Family: Scrophulariaceae

Scientific Name: Scrophularia macrantha (Gray) Greene ex Stiefelhagan

Synonyms: Scrophularia coccinea Gray; Scrophularia neomexicana Shaw

Vernacular Name: Mimbres figwort

R-E-D Code: 2-1-3

Description: Herbaceous perennial, 4-11 dm tall, with 1-several stems; leaves glabrous, opposite or whorled, broadly lanceolate to ovate, coarsely serrate, thin, 6-8 cm long; inflorescence a loose, few-branched, terminal panicle, somewhat glandular pubescent; flowers showy, tubular, bilabiate, bright red, 13-22 mm long, glandular pubescent; fertile stamens 4, fifth stamen sterile, rounded, longer than broad; stigma capitate; fruit a somewhat woody, oblong, 2-chambered, septicidal capsule, 8-11 mm long; seeds numerous, small, rugose. Flowers July to October.

Similar Species: The long red flowers of Scrophularia macrantha easily separate it from other species of Scrophularia in southern New Mexico.


Distribution: New Mexico, Grant and Luna counties, Mimbres Mountains, Kneeling Nun, and Cook's Peak.

Habitat: Steep, rocky, usually north-facing igneous cliffs and talus slopes, occasionally in canyon bottoms; piņon-juniper woodland and lower montane coniferous forest; 2,000-2,500 m (6,500-8,200 ft).

Remarks: This plant is presently known only from several widely separated populations. In contrast to other species of Scrophularia, which are insect pollinated, S. macrantha is pollinated by hummingbirds (Lightfoot and Sivinski 1994). This plant is now in the garden trade under the name redbirds-in-a-tree.

Conservation Considerations: Mining activities in Chino Pit at the Kneeling Nun outcrop will probably impact portions of that population. Other potential threats are wildfire, unregulated mining, road maintenance & construction. Many of the known sites in the Black Range burned in the 2013 Silver Fire. Although plants survived the immediate impacts of the fire, persistence is questionable in severely altered habitats.

Important Literature (*Illustration):

Lightfoot, K. and R. Sivinski. 1994. Status report on Scrophularia macrantha Greene ex Stiefelhagen. New Mexico State Forestry and Resources Conservation Division, Santa Fe.

*New Mexico Native Plants Protection Advisory Committee. 1984. A handbook of rare and endemic plants of New Mexico. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque.

Shaw, R.J. 1962. The biosystematics of Scrophularia in western North America. Aliso 5:147-48.

Soreng, R.J. 1982. Status report on Scrophularia macrantha. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office, Albuquerque.

Torrey, J. 1859. Botany of the boundary. In: W.H. Emory. Report of the U.S. and Mexican Boundary Survey. House Executive Document 135, 34th Congress, 1st session, volume 2, part 1, 27-276.

Roth, D. 2016. Wildfire Impacts on Species of Concern Plants in the Gila National Forest, New Mexico. Unpublished report prepared by EMNRD-Forestry Division, Santa Fe, NM for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Region 2, Albuquerque, NM. 48 pp.

Information Compiled By: Denis M. Kearns, 1999; last updated 2016

Agency Status:
Taxon USFWS State of NM USFS BLM Navajo Nation Natural Heritage NM Global Rank
Scrophularia macranthaSoCSoCSenSen.S2G2


Photo credits in header Peniocereus greggii var. greggii © T. Todsen,
Lepidospartum burgessii © M. Howard, Argemone pleiacantha ssp. pinnatisecta © R. Sivinski
©2005 New Mexico Rare Plant Technical Council