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Synthyris oblongifolia
(Sierra Blanca kittentails)

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



Family: Scrophulariaceae

Scientific Name: Synthyris oblongifolia (Pennell) Hufford & McMahon

Synonyms: Besseya oblongifolia Pennell

Vernacular Name: Sierra Blanca kittentails

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

Description: Perennial herb; stems to 30 cm high, densely hairy, usually with 12-16 small bract-like leaves below the flower cluster; basal leaves oblong, mostly 7-11 cm long, 25-30 mm wide, rounded at the tip, with rounded teeth on the margins; petioles about 5-10 cm long, with longitudinal rows of soft hairs; flower clusters narrow, 5-10 cm long; flowers white, 5-6 mm long; capsules hairy, 4-5 mm long. Flowers June to September.

Similar Species: Synthyris plantaginea has hairless capsules and sepals, and leaves that are hairy, at least beneath.


Distribution: New Mexico, Lincoln and Otero counties, Sacramento Mountains.

Habitat: Alpine meadows; 3,350-3,600 m (11,000-12,000 ft).

Remarks: Restricted to a few sites in the Sierra Blancas. A specimen from Taos County tentatively identified as Synthyris oblongifolia has been determined not to be that species.

Conservation Considerations: Sierra Blanca kittentails survived the 2012 Little Bear Fire by nature of its habitat. It is potentially threatened by trampling in the vicinity of the Lookout and road maintenance acitivities.

Important Literature (*Illustration):

Hufford, L. and M. McMahon. 2004. Morphological evolution and systematics of Synthyris and Besseya (Veronicaceae): A phylogenetic analysis. Systematic Botany 29(3):716-736.

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

Pennell, F.W. 1933. A revision of Synthyris and Besseya. Proceedings of the Academy of Sciences of Philadelphia 85:83-93.

Roth, D. 2016. Wildfire Impacts on Species of Concern Plants in the Lincoln 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 Unpublished report prepared by EMNRD-Forestry Division, Santa Fe, NM for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Region 2, Albuquerque, NM. 28 pp.

Information Compiled By: Ken Heil, Joey Herring, 1999; last updated 2016

Agency Status:
Taxon USFWS State of NM USFS BLM Navajo Nation Natural Heritage NM Global Rank
Synthyris oblongifoliaSoCSoCSen..S2G2Q


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