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Heuchera pulchella
(Sandia alumroot)

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



Family: Saxifragaceae

Scientific Name: Heuchera pulchella Wooton & Standley

Synonyms: None

Vernacular Name: Sandia alumroot

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

Description: Perennial, rhizomatous herb; stems greater than 15 cm tall, glandular pubescent, bearing leaves in basal clusters; leaves broadly oval to rotund, cordate, palmately lobed and broadly toothed, upper surface glabrous, lower surface glandular pubescent; inflorescence a scapose one-sided raceme, with 15+ flowers; hypanthium about 5.5 mm long, basal portion fuzed to ovary, upper free portion about 4.0 mm long, campanulate to urceolate, pubescent, pinkish-white; calyx 5-lobed, sepals pinkish-purple; petals lanceolate (sometimes filiform when dried), very narrow at the base, pinkish-white, longer than the calyx lobes; stamens 5, equal to or longer than the sepals; styles not much exserted; stigmas 2. Flowers July to September.

Similar Species: Heuchera rubescens (syn = H. versicolor) usually has a less dense inflorescence, more acutely pointed leaf lobes, shorter hypanthium, narrower petals, and more strongly exserted anthers and styles than H. pulchella. Other New Mexican species of Heuchera have either greenish-white flowers or much larger red flowers.


Distribution: New Mexico, Bernalillo, Sandoval, and Torrance counties, Sandia and Manzano mountains.

Habitat: Limestone cliffs in lower and upper montane coniferous forest; 2,450-3,260 m (8,000-10,700 ft).

Remarks: Locally abundant on the limestone face of Sandia Crest. The widespread H. rubescens is a variable species and the distinguishing features between it and H. pulchella are slight. This has caused confusion about the distribution of H. pulchella. Systematic studies of Heuchera are presently underway and will eventually clarify this issue. For now, it is best to consider H. pulchella to be restricted to the Sandia and Manzano mountains.

Conservation Considerations: The cliffside habitats of this plant offer considerable protection from human impacts.

Important Literature (*Illustration):

*Ivey, R.D. 1998. Flowering plants of New Mexico, 3rd edition. Published by the author, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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

Rosendahl, C.O., F.K. Butters and O. Lakela. 1936. A monograph on the genus Heuchera. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis.

Wooton, E.O. and P.C. Standley. 1913. Descriptions of new plants preliminary to a report upon the flora of New Mexico. Contributions from the U.S. National Herbarium 16:109-196.

Information Compiled By: Denis M. Kearns, Robert Sivinski, 1999

Agency Status:
Taxon USFWS State of NM USFS BLM Navajo Nation Natural Heritage NM Global Rank
Heuchera pulchellaSoCSoCSen..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