The first edition of the Colorado Rare Plant Guide was printed in 1997, and for years was affectionately known by botanists and natural history enthusiasts around Colorado as “the purple book”. The Guide was then made available online, and periodically updated, always working with a limited budget and important collaborations with our partners (please see list of collaborations and partnerships). The Guide now provides summary species profiles for 172 rare plant species known to occur in Colorado, including all listed USFWS Threatened and Endangered plant species, all plant species listed by the BLM and the USFS as Sensitive, and all Colorado Plants of Greatest Conservation Need.
For each species, information is presented on nomenclature, identifying characteristics, look-alike species, phenology, distribution, habitat, threats, and references. Photographs of the rare plants and their habitats are included, as well as technical botanical illustrations showing distinguishing characteristics. We also present information to show species distributions according to County.
Data acquired over more than forty years by the Colorado Natural Areas Program (CNAP), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the Colorado Natural Heritage Program (CNHP), and numerous individuals through field research, herbarium research, published floras, and scientific literature were used to produce the species accounts. As new information on rare, threatened, and endangered species is acquired, these data should be submitted to CNHP at Colorado State University.
The Colorado Natural Heritage Program serves as the central repository for information on rare species and natural communities in the State, and we welcome all editorial comments on the guide.