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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Dwarf Saw-wort - Saussurea nuda
Other Names:  Saussurea nuda var. densa, Saussurea densa

Species of Concern
Native Species

Global Rank: G4
State Rank: S2S3
(see State Rank Reason below)
State Threat Score: No Known Threats
CCVI: Moderately Vulnerable

Agency Status


External Links

State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
Known from a handfull of small occurrences along the Rocky Mountain Front, primarily in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex. Limited data are available for most occurrences leading to the uncertainty in the species' rank.
General Description
Dwarf Saw-wort is a dwarf perennial herb that is 5-20 cm high and arising from a woody rootstock. The lance-shaped leaf blades are coarsely toothed, up to 8 cm long, and have a broad petiole. The alternate leaves are crowded on the stem, reduced, and lacking petioles towards the tops. The herbage is covered with long, tangled hairs when young but becomes glabrous with age. The purple flowering heads are borne in a dense cluster subtended by leaves at the top of the stem. The narrow involucral bracts of the heads are 11-15 mm long. All of the flowers are tubular (disk flowers); ray flowers are absent. The achene has a pappus on top.

Our plants are variety densa (Hook.) Hulten.

Flowering in July-early August, fruiting in late August.

Diagnostic Characteristics
The clustered, purple, rayless flowering heads, together with the rocky, high elevation habitat, are distinctive. The similar S. weberi occurs in southwest Montana mountains and has broad involucral bracts with rounded tips.

Species Range
Montana Range Range Descriptions


Range Comments
AK to MT; Asia (Lesica et al. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 22

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density



(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)

Calcareous soil of talus slopes and rocky, open slopes in the alpine zone.
Predicted Suitable Habitat Model

This species has a Predicted Suitable Habitat Model available.

To learn how these Models were created see

Ecological Systems Associated with this Species

Threats or Limiting Factors
Threat impact not assigned because threats are not known (MTNHP Threat Assessment 2021).

  • Literature Cited AboveLegend:   View Online Publication
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2022. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants, Second Edition. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 779 p.
    • Watson, T.J. and K.H. Lackschewitz. 1980. The genus Saussurea (Asteraceae-Cynareae) in Montana. Northwest Science 54(2):106-108.
  • Web Search Engines for Articles on "Dwarf Saw-wort"
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Citation for data on this website:
Dwarf Saw-wort — Saussurea nuda.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from