Plant Guide to Grandview Trail
Grand Canyon National Park

Including Pictures of Most Species

(Click on pictures to get the species information pages)

Introduction and Explanation of Plant Trail Guides

Highlights of This Trail
Fieldwork Dates and Summary of List Changes With Time
The Plant Guide
     Key to Plant Guide Information
     Introduction To The Linked Species Pages


This page is just a shell to hold a preliminary version of the plant guide. The pictures above yet haven't been updated to be plants from this trail.

See Grand Canyon Flora: Grandview Trail for a list of the species in this guide in traditional family order.

This is a preliminary plant trail guide to the Grandview Trail to about mile 1.15, resulting from just one day of field work on 24 July 2012. It is therefore undoubtedly incomplete, especially for annuals and perennials, missing a number of such species that are seen only in wetter years or earlier in the year. However, it should be fairly complete for the larger shrubs and trees on the trail.

A plant trail guide gives the location of the first occurrence of every taxon (species and subspecies) found on the trail, as well as an estimate of the abundance of each taxon. It enables a botanist to know exactly where to find a given species, and gives the identification for species seen as one hikes along a trail. It is much more useful in the field than a traditional plant list by family, since the plants are seen in the trail in the order of the plant trail guide, and one doesn't have to figure out the determination from a large plant list by family.

In this plant trail guide, the common name of many species is linked to a separate webpage that shows photographs taken from this trail, or from the Bright Angel or South Kaibab Trails. For most taxa, these photographs serve as vouchers for my determinations, allowing botanists to confirm or question my determinations. ☺

The photographs also enable armchair botanists to take a virtual tour through all the species seen those days on the trail.

Since most species were not in bloom then, the photographs in general don't look anything like the pretty pictures of flowers shown in most field guides. However, this more nearly reflects what the plants look like most of the year, and hence may actually be more beneficial for most botanists trying to identify the species on the trail.

Since I am a botanist, the photographs were taken with identification of the species in mind. Almost every species has at least one picture with an object in it that can be used as a scale to make good measurements of the lengths of the parts needed for identification. Objects used for scale are: my fingers (widths ~ 18 mm = 0.7 inches) or my thumb (width ~23 mm = 0.9 inches; thumbnail width ~16 mm = 0.6 inches); my GPS receiver (11.0 cm long x 5.2 cm wide = 4.3 x 2.0 inches); or my backpack (15 inches tall x 16.5 inches wide x ~10 inches deep = 38 x 42 x 25 cm).

As far as possible, I used my knowledge of what characteristics are usually used to distinguish each species, and targeted those with my photographs. The discriminating characteristics vary tremendously between genera and families, and can range from the branching habit at the base of the plant, the characteristics of the underneath or shape or hairs of the leaf, to properties of the twigs. Sometimes, botanists even use the characteristics of the flowers, even though it often doesn't seem like it when photographers send pictures to botanists to be identified! ☺

Of course, some species do not have their identifying characteristics on display on a single field day, so not all species will have those characteristics photographed.

Important Caveats:

Many of the determinations were based on a reasonable guess as to the correct species, or by my keying of the plants among species unfamiliar to me, or by my assuming that, if the Grand Canyon flora only lists one possible determination, then that determination is the correct one. I note that the latter approach would have resulted in an erroneous determination for Polygonum arenastrum if I had not been able to explicitly key out that species, and interested in doing so.

A key is a horrible way to identify species outside the hands of someone very familiar with a given flora. For example, only through the use of a key could an elephant be keyed as a "mouse", since keys often depend on subtle features in order to reliably discriminate species. But a key is the best means we have for discriminating species, and they work well if one is familiar with most of the species in the key. An expert in the plants of Arizona would be far less likely to make a bonehead mistake in keying out plants than an Arizona novice like me.

The reader may be amused to know that most botanists do not identify plants in the field when they are working on the flora of an area except possibly for the most common or unique species. Instead, they collect specimens, which are then pressed and dried. The specimens are then taken to a herbarium that has similar samples of all the possible identifications that have been determined by experts in those taxa. The specimens are directly compared, with the aid of a key and a microscope, to the labeled herbarium specimens to get the determination. (By the way, botanical keys are almost always made from, and for, pressed and dried specimens, which is definitely a problem at times in keying live plants.)

I collected no specimens; all my determinations have been made from my photographs and field observations. (Note that taking anything from Grand Canyon National Park is prohibited unless you have a permit to do so in your possession.) Hence the likelihood of a misdetermination is much higher than determinations made from specimens.

I would greatly appreciate it if anyone who spots a mistake, or even questions a determination, would contact me so mistakes can be corrected. Additions to the guide are welcome as well, especially if documented by photographs and good locations.

My determinations would not have been possible without the excellent resources available that I consulted. Many people have worked on the Grand Canyon Flora, collecting specimens, curating the specimens in herbaria, reviewing the determinations of those specimens, making the information from specimens available online, taking photographs and identifying the plants in those photographs, writing books, and synthesizing the available information in keys and floras. I am deeply grateful to all those people. I especially thank Lori Makarick, who provided the latest Grand Canyon Park Plant Checklist. That list was helpful in quickly getting the proper determination for several species.

A reference page gives the taxa found on this trail in traditional family order. For each taxon, that page links to online references and gives detailed references to printed reference material.

A list of just the species with species pages is given here: Bright Angel Trail and South Kaibab Trail: Checklist of Species With Pictures.

Highlights of This Trail

Fieldwork Dates and Summary of List Changes With Time

The following table gives the dates the trail was walked and taxa recorded. After each visit, the table gives the total number of taxa on the list and the breakdown of the taxa without positive identification. See Explanation of Plant Trail Guides to understand the symbols below.

Visit DateVisit ## taxa# "?"# "sp"# "~"# "ssp"

The Plant Guide

Key to Plant Guide Information

Mile: It is like a car odometer. Mile 0.00 includes all mileages from 0.000 to 0.009; 0.01 includes all mileages from 0.010 to 0.019, etc. 0.01 mile is 18 yards = 53 feet, about 18-20 normal-size paces.

Note that species separated by a difference of 0.01 mile in the guide could actually be fairly close together, with the odometer "rolling over" between them. Example: one species is at 1.599 miles, reported as 1.59 miles in the guide, and the next species is at 1.601 miles, reported as 1.60 miles in the guide. The species are actually just 0.002 miles = 10 feet apart. They could also be almost 0.02 miles apart. Example: one species is at 1.601 miles and the next is at 1.619 miles.

The mileage for this guide is nowhere near as accurate as the mileage for the Bright Angel Trail. I primarily relied on GPS points recorded in the field for every location, and for the elevations. Note that GPS readings often have considerable error in canyons, due to poor satellite visibility and errors due to satellite signals taking multiple paths to the receiver due to reflections from the many exposed rock faces here.

In fact, GPS receivers are almost useless in some parts of the trail due to these problems. Be very wary about believing the trip mileage given by a GPS receiver.

Since most people walk without a pedometer or a GPS to give them their rough mileage, enough landmarks are included in the guide that it is not necessary to pay much attention to the mileage. It is mainly useful in telling the reader when there are long intervals without new species, or when new species come fast and furious.

S: Side of trail on which the first occurrence is found: left, right, both, or center

#: On-trail species are numbered in order of first occurrence on trail (easily touchable from the trail). Off-trail species are in parentheses.

id?: Species without an entry in this column are quite confidently identified. "?" means I am just guessing the identification; "sp" means the genera is probably known, but the species name is uncertain even when a potential species name is given in the guide; "~" means I have roughly 95% confidence that this is the determination, but have not yet positively identified it; "ssp" means the subspecies or variety needs to be determined.

FAM: The family for each taxon is given as the first three letters of the full scientific family name, with all letters capitalized. See the key to the three letter abbreviations.

(*)Common Name: An asterisk before the common name indicates a species that is non-native to the Grand Canyon, and hence should not be here. The Common Name is linked to a separate page for each species giving photographs and further information about some species. The Common Name in many cases has been taken from my southern California database for expediency. If you know of a better common name used at the Grand Canyon, please let me know.

Note that common names are not standardized, and more than one taxa can have the same common name.

Scientific Name: This is the name used to uniquely identify a species by botanists, which enables one to confidently look up more information about each species. All names are as given in the latest Grand Canyon flora online. Synonyms (older, newer, or alternate Scientific Names) are given in the page linked to the common name, usually via the USDA Plants link.

#Plants: This gives the minimum number of on-trail plants of this species on this trail, with the number of locations on this trail following the /, using maximum values of 99/9. A value of 1/1 means I only found a single plant in a single location in the entire trail; 10/9 means 10 plants occurring in at least 9 locations, etc. Very common taxa are generally given as 50/9 or 99/9, with the 99/9 species being significantly more abundant than the 50/9 species.

Introduction To The Linked Species Pages

Many species in the plant trail guide have additional information given on a separate page that is linked from the Common Name field below. The additional information includes:

Characteristics: This section begins with Identification status, which gives a discussion of how confident I am in the determination. The identification and other characteristics of each species are discussed. The explicit keying is given in some cases.

Some species have additional discussion about the species in the Grand Canyon and/or elsewhere.

Voucher information is given, including the number of vouchers in the entire Grand Canyon and the closest voucher to the Bright Angel Trail. Voucher information was obtained from the Southwest Biodiversity Consortium (formerly SEINet).

The information given in the guide below about the location and number of plants is repeated on each species page.

Unfortunately, due to the amount of time it took me to make a full species page, some species have just the pictures and reference information on the species pages, without the additional information mentioned above.

Pictures: Pictures of each species taken on the Bright Angel Trail are presented, often with the identification characteristics explicitly pointed out.

References: References are given to 13 sources, including links to online references and page numbers for printed references.

Version for printing, without lines and other text on this page: html (4 pages) or pdf Clickbook booklet (1 double-sided page). (See printing instructions for an explanation of these options)

MileS#id?FAM(*)Common NameScientific Name#Plants
0.00   Begin trail on n side of the overlook at 7400 feet (2255 m). Some species in parking area: *Bromus inermis; Eriogonum ~racemosum; Heliomeris multiflora var. nevadensis; Pedicularis centranthera; Penstemon linarioides.
0.00b1 Pintwo-needle pinyon pinePinus edulis50 / 9
0.00b2 Vispinyon pine dwarf-mistletoeArceuthobium divaricatum20 / 9
0.00b3 RosUtah service-berryAmelanchier utahensis99 / 9
0.00b4 Poa*downy bromeBromus tectorum99 / 9
0.00l5 AstCalifornia brickellbushBrickellia californica15 / 5
0.00b6 Asthoary-asterMachaeranthera canescens99 / 3
0.00l7? unk like Epilobium canum with alt lvsKochia scoparia?10 / 2
0.00l  (Arizona thistle, Cirsium arizonicum var. nidulum)
0.00b8 Poamutton grassPoa fendleriana99 / 9
0.00b9 FagGambel oakQuercus gambelii99 / 9
0.00   Switchback left
0.01r10 Grodesert gooseberryRibes velutinum5 / 3
0.01b11 Braperennial rock-cressArabis perennans30 / 9
0.01l12 Roscurl-leaf mountain-mahoganyCercocarpus ledifolius10 / 9
0.01l13 PoasquirreltailElymus elymoides99 / 3
0.01r14 Ephgreen ephedraEphedra viridis20 / 9
0.01b15~CapParish's snowberry (id from plants farther along trail)Symphoricarpos rotundifolius var. parishii99 / 9
0.01l16 Poawestern wheatgrassPascopyrum smithii3 / 1
0.02l17 AstArizona thistleCirsium arizonicum var. nidulum50 / 9
0.02   Switchback right
0.02l  (Utah juniper, Juniperus osteosperma; juniper mistletoe, Phoradendron juniperinum)
0.02l18 BraWright's thelypodyThelypodium wrightii20 / 5
0.03r19 Scrbeaked penstemonPenstemon rostriflorus30 / 9
0.03l20 Polsouthern mountain phloxPhlox austromontana30 / 9
0.03l21 Bra*herb sophiaDescurainia sophia50 / 1
0.04l22 CheFremont's goosefootChenopodium fremontii5 / 1
0.04r23 AstBasin butterweedPackera multilobata10 / 9
0.04l24 RubWright's bedstrawGalium wrightii10 / 4
0.04l25 ScrPalmer's penstemonPenstemon palmeri1 / 1
0.04l  (Indian ricegrass, Achnatherum hymenoides)
0.04l  (Eaton's penstemon, Penstemon eatonii ssp. undosus)
0.04r26 PinRocky Mountain Douglas-firPseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca5 / 5
0.05r  (banana yucca, Yucca baccata)
0.06l27 RubMunz's bedstrawGalium munzii ssp. ambivalens99 / 9
0.07   (Grand Canyon Goldenweed, Ericameria arizonica)
0.07   Switchback left
0.07l ~(rock whitefeather, Ivesia arizonica; coral bells, ~Heuchera rubescens var. versicolor)
0.09l28 RoscliffrosePurshia stansburiana4 / 4
0.09b29 LinLewis' flaxLinum lewisii var. lewisii99 / 9
0.09l30 Rosrock whitefeatherIvesia arizonica1 / 1
0.09l31~Bramountain pepper-grassLepidium montanum20 / 3
0.09l32 AstGrand Canyon rock-daisyPerityle congesta99 / 9
0.10r33~Fabfreckled milk-vetchAstragalus lentiginosus var. diphysus1 / 1
0.10l34 AstGrand Canyon GoldenweedEricameria arizonica6 / 2
0.10   Switchback right
0.11r  (shrubby cream bush, Holodiscus dumosus)
0.11r35 Astsilver wormwoodArtemisia ludoviciana50 / 9
0.11   Switchback left
0.11r  (Kaibab century plant, Agave utahensis var. kaibabensis). Need to locate first one on trail
  36 AgaKaibab century plantAgave utahensis var. kaibabensis3 / 2
0.12l37 Hydlittle-leaf mock orangePhiladelphus microphyllus2 / 2
0.12l  (scarlet gilia, Ipomopsis aggregata ssp. formosissima)
0.12l38 Fab*yellow sweetcloverMelilotus officinalis8 / 1
0.12   Switchback right and then quick left
0.12r39 Polscarlet giliaIpomopsis aggregata ssp. formosissima10 / 4
0.13l40 RanFendler's meadow-rueThalictrum fendleri3 / 3
0.13l41 Mallittleleaf globe mallowSphaeralcea parvifolia30 / 7
0.13r42 PoaIndian ricegrassAchnatherum hymenoides5 / 5
0.14r43 CacMojave prickly-pearOpuntia erinacea10 / 5
0.14l44 HydFendler bushFendlera rupicola10 / 2
0.14l45 AstEaton's fleabaneErigeron eatonii /
0.14l  (hairy goldenaster, Heterotheca villosa)
0.16l46 PolSimpson's buckwheatEriogonum microthecum var. simpsonii10 / 5
0.16   Switchback right, left, right; elevation ~7200 feet (2190 m)
0.19r47 Rosshrubby cream bushHolodiscus dumosus1 / 1
0.20r48 Selspike-mossSelaginella mutica99 / 9
 r49 Brawild candytuftThlaspi montanum var. fendleri1 / 1
0.22   Switchback left
0.23b50 Fabbush peavineLathyrus brachycalyx ssp. zionis99 / 9
0.25l51 Ranbarestem larkspurDelphinium scaposum20 / 9
0.26b52 ScrEaton's penstemonPenstemon eatonii ssp. undosus30 / 5
0.28   Switchback right
0.28l53 Growhisky currantRibes cereum var. pedicellare4 / 3
 r54 AstGrand Canyon glowweedHesperodoria scopulorum20 / 5
 l55 CupUtah juniperJuniperus osteosperma5 / 3
0.30   Switchback left, then right
0.33r56 AstArizona hymenoxysTetraneuris acaulis var. arizonica40 / 9
0.33r  (blueberry elder, Sambucus glauca)
0.34   Trail turns right 90°
0.41   Switchback left; elevation ~7000 feet (2130 m)
0.45l57 Asthairy goldenasterHeterotheca villosa40 / 9
0.46l58 BerFremont barberryMahonia fremontii4 / 3
0.47l59 Crospiny greasebushGlossopetalon spinescens var. aridum40 / 9
0.47l60 HydUtah fendlerbushFendlerella utahensis /
0.47   Switchback right
0.51r61spScrpaintbrushCastilleja sp.20 / 5
0.51r62 Rutpallid hoptreePtelea trifoliata ssp. pallida var. pallida10 / 3
0.52r63 Astbig sagebrushArtemisia tridentata1 / 1
0.55r64 Astbeautiful aster Eurybia pulchra22 / 1
0.55   Trail turns left 90° to cross saddle; elevation ~6800 feet (2070 m)
0.58r65 Bercreeping barberryMahonia repens15 / 1
0.58r66 Agabanana yuccaYucca baccata10 / 9
0.61   Trail curves right at ridge
  67 AstCooper’s rubberweedHymenoxys cooperi /
0.64r68spCypvery short cespitose sedgeCarex like rossii or geophila1 / 1
0.64r69 Rhabirchleaf buckthornFrangula betulifolia ssp. obovata1 / 1
0.65l70 BetKnowlton hop hornbeamOstrya knowltonii4 / 2
0.68   Switchback right at ridge
0.68l71 AstmatchweedGutierrezia sarothrae5 / 2
0.75r72 PoaParish needlegrassAchnatherum parishii3 / 1
0.75   Switchback left, then trail curves right 90°
0.76l73 GarWright's silktasselGarrya wrightii10 / 2
0.77r74?Astrabbitbrush?Chrysothamnus? Gutierrezia sarothrae3 / 1
0.77r  (rose heath, Chaetopappa ericoides)
0.77 75?Astan old Gutierrezia sarothrae?Gutierrezia sarothrae? /
0.78   Switchback left
0.79r76 Poablue threeawnAristida purpurea var. nealleyi1 / 1
0.80r  (desert prickly-pear, Opuntia phaeacantha)
0.81   Switchback right; elevation ~6600 feet (2010 m)
0.81r77 AnaskunkbushRhus trilobata2 / 1
0.81r78 Poadesert needlegrassAchnatherum speciosum1 / 1
0.82l79 Braheartleaf jewelflowerStreptanthus cordatus3 / 1
  80? unk like mirabilisunk like mirabilis1 / 1
    Switchback right
  81~Astrush rabbitbrushEricameria nauseosa var. juncea /
0.83   Switchback left, right, left
0.84l82 Pteslender lipfernCheilanthes feei2 / 1
0.84r83 Poa*red bromeBromus rubens30 / 1
0.84l84 AstbrownfootAcourtia wrightii3 / 1
0.84l85 Cacdesert prickly-pearOpuntia phaeacantha /
0.84   Switchback right, left, right, left
0.91   Elevation ~6400 feet (1950 m)
0.91l86 Olefragrant ashFraxinus cuspidata1 / 1
1.05   Elevation ~6200 feet (1890 m)
  87loEphLook for this voucher: lvs 3 per node, 3-5 mm long, tardily deciduous; east facing slope 25 paces below 6190 foot USGS MarkerEphedra torreyana /
1.05r88 ApiMacDougal's Indian parsleyAletes macdougalii ssp. macdougalii99 / 1
1.12 89 Rostrue mountain-mahoganyCercocarpus montanus3 / 2
1.12r90 CarGrand Canyon campionSilene rectiramea50 / 1
1.14   Elevation ~6000 feet (1830 m)
  91loSelLook for this voucher: setae prominent, pl bright green; in Supai sandstone at 6000 feetSelaginella underwoodii /
1.15r92 SaxArizona alumrootHeuchera parvifolia2 / 2
1.15b93 Astspreading fleabaneErigeron divergens99 / 9
1.16   End of current plant trail guide
1.50   Elevation ~5650 feet (1720 m)
2.00   Elevation ~5550 feet (1690 m)
2.50r  Jct. Miner's Spring Trail; elevation ~5000 feet (1520 m)
2.65l  Jct. Cottonwood Creek Trail; elevation ~4900 feet (1495 m)
2.85r  Y-jct for trails to left and right fingers of Horseshoe Mesa; elevation ~4900 feet (1495 m)

We thank Jane Strong for her extensive work in helping to get the determination for the two Erigeron species on this trail, the Pascopyrum smithii, and Wendy Hodgson for the determination of the Hesperodoria scopulorum.

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Copyright © 2012-2013 by Tom Chester, Anne Kelly and Dave Stith
Permission is freely granted to reproduce any or all of this page as long as credit is given to us at this source:
Comments and feedback: Tom Chester
Updated 1 September 2013.