[taxon report][distribution map][all photos][line drawing]
Scientific Name: Heuchera wootonii Rydberg
Vernacular Name: Wooton's alumroot
R-E-D Code: 1-1-3
Description: Perennial herb, with thick rhizomes; leaves basal, green (not variegated) glandular-puberulent along margins & abaxial veins, mostly glabrous adaxially, broadly ovate to orbicular, cordate at base, shallowly palmately lobed, lobes rounded, petioles longer than the blades, minutely glandular-puberulent and with sparse, long (2-6 mm), multicellular, glandular trichomes; inflorescence an ebracteate raceme, axis glandular puberulent and often with some longer glandular trichomes; at anthesis, hypanthium (tube of united sepals and petals) shallow, saucer-shaped, green; calyx with five widely spreading sepals, green, glandular-puberulent; petals spatulate, white, spreading, longer than the sepals or, occasionally, equaling them; stamens 5, not exceeding the hypanthium, curved inwards; stigmas 2. Flowers June to September.
Similar Species: In the Sacramento Mountains, Sierra Blanca, and Capitan Mountains, Heuchera wootonii is the only species with white petals. Elsewhere, it may be confused with either Heuchera novomexicana or Heuchera parvifolia. Heuchera novomexicana has a campanulate hypanthium with erect sepals, generally appearing slightly urceolate in profile, the hypanthium pale green or cream and the sepals green and noticeably darker than the hypanthium, and erect white petals. The petioles of Heuchera parvifolia lack the longer glandular trichomes of Heuchera wootonii.
Distribution: New Mexico, Lincoln and Otero counties in the Sacramento Mountains, Sierra Blanca, and Capitan Mountains. Questionably present in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in Santa Fe and Taos counties.
Habitat: Primarily found around rock outcrops, talus slopes, and other rocky sites in montane coniferous forests, occasionally above treeline in the alpine zone or as low as pinion-juniper woodland; 2,150-3,650 m (7,000-12,000 ft).
Remarks: Hypanthium shape and the orientation sepals and petals can be difficult to assess on herbarium specimens, which can cause confusion between this species and Heuchera novomexicana, although the two are easy to distinguish on live flowering plants. Previous reports of Heuchera wootonii from Catron County are the result of this kind of confusion. In the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, typical Heuchera parvifolia is common, but several specimens have been collected that greatly resemble Heuchera wootonii. These plants are all near or above timberline. More work is needed to determine the status of these populations relative to Heuchera wootonii in Lincoln and Otero counties.
Conservation Considerations: The distribution, abundance and habitat requirements of this plant need additional study. Its response to forest fire and other forms of disturbance have not been studied.
Important Literature (*Illustration):
*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.
Information Compiled By:
Denis M. Kearns, 1999; updated 2019 (Patrick J. Alexander)