Pagosa skyrocket is a non-woody, or herbaceous, plant species in the phlox family. Pagosa skyrocket can be seen in bloom in June and July, and grows as a rosette for one to many years, until conditions are right to flower and reproduce.
Pagosa skyrocket is only found in two populations in and near the town of Pagosa Springs, at an elevation of 6,800 to 7,300 feet. The plant can be found on gray soils that are derived from Mancos shale in open grasslands and grassland understories, at the edges of open forests. The species has adapted to grow on these shale soils, which are very dry and erosive. This makes the conditions harsh and difficult for most other plant species to survive.
Due to development impacts, remaining Pagosa skyrocket habitat is often found adjacent to roads, in dry ditches, among buildings and in some pastures. The primary threat to Pagosa skyrocket is land use changes, including commercial, residential, municipal and agricultural property development, as well as associated utility installations and access roads. In addition, non-native invasive plants, concentrated livestock use and the potential effects ofmay impact the species. Because of its extremely limited distribution, the species is vulnerable to habitat modification and changes in the environment. Pagosa skyrocket also relies on insect pollinators to reproduce. The loss of pollinators and pollinator habitat is considered a threat to this species.
Pagosa skyrocket habitat is limited to soils that are derived from Mancos shale. This soil type is nearly neutral to slightly alkaline, with a range of 6.6 to 8.4 pH. The elevation range is 6,750 to 7,775 feet (2,050 to 2,370 meters). Plants occur in discontinuous colonies as a pioneer species on open shale or as a climax species along the edge of Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa), mixed ponderosa and Rocky mountain juniper (Juniperus scopulorum), or Utah juniper (Juniperus osteosperma) and Gambel oak (Quercus gambellii) forested areas. Now the species is found mostly on sites that are infrequently disturbed by grazing, like road rights-of-way that are fenced from grazing, as opposed to open range, as we;; as lightly grazed pastures and undeveloped lots.
Pollination by bees is the most common means of reproduction for Pagosa skyrocket, and the primary pollinators are the honey bee (Apis mellifera), metallic green bee (Augochlorella spp.), bumble bee (Bombus spp.) and digger bee (Anthophora spp.).
Pagosa skyrocket grows 12 to 24 inches tall from a rosette of finely dissected leaves. Clusters of white or light pink flowers, often flecked with purple or pink spots, run along the stems.
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