Jepson eFlora: Taxon page
Vascular Plants of California
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Cassiope mertensiana

Higher Taxonomy
Family: EricaceaeView DescriptionDichotomous Key
Habit: Perennial herb, shrub, tree. Stem: bark often peeling distinctively. Leaf: simple or 0, generally cauline, alternate, opposite (whorled), evergreen or deciduous, often leathery, petioled or not; stipules 0. Inflorescence: raceme, panicle, cyme, or flowers 1, terminal or axillary, generally bracted; pedicel often with 2 bractlets. Flower: generally bisexual, generally radial, bell-shaped, cylindric, or urn-shaped; sepals generally (0)4--5, generally free; petals generally (0)4--5, free or fused; stamens (2--5)8--10, free, filaments rarely appendaged, anthers dehiscing by pores or slits, awns 0 or 2(4), seemingly abaxial, reduced or elongate, generally curved; nectary generally present at ovary base, generally disk-like; ovary superior or inferior, chambers generally 1--5, placentas axile or parietal, ovules 1--many per chamber, style 1, stigma head- to funnel-like or lobed. Fruit: capsule, drupe, berry. Seed: generally many, winged or not.
Genera In Family: +- 100 genera, 3000 species: generally worldwide except deserts; some cultivated, especially Arbutus, Arctostaphylos, Rhododendron, Vaccinium. Note: Monophyletic only if Empetraceae included, as treated here. Ledum included in Rhododendron. Non-green plants obtain nutrition from green plants through fungal intermediates.
eFlora Treatment Author: Gary D. Wallace, except as noted
Scientific Editor: Gary D. Wallace, Thomas J. Rosatti, Bruce G. Baldwin.
Genus: CassiopeView Description 

Habit: Shrub, small, glabrous to hairy. Stem: decumbent or prostrate, often rooting. Leaf: opposite, appressed, evergreen, leathery or thin. Inflorescence: flowers 1 in upper leaf axils; bracts 0; pedicel jointed to flower, bractlets 4--6. Flower: sepals 4--5, free; petals 4--5, +- 2/3 fused, generally white; stamens 10, anthers dehiscing by gaping pores, awns elongate; ovary superior, chambers 5, placentas near top. Fruit: capsule, loculicidal. Seed: several per chamber.
Etymology: (Greek: mother of Andromeda)
eFlora Treatment Author: Gary D. Wallace
Cassiope mertensiana (Bong.) G. Don
Habit: Plant low, densely branched. Stem: < 3 dm, glabrous or finely hairy. Leaf: sessile, overlapping, 2--5 mm, boat-shaped, elliptic, concave, leathery, glabrous, abaxially not grooved; margin entire, ciliate, or minutely glandular, not rolled under. Inflorescence: pedicel glabrous or hairy. Flower: corolla widely bell-shaped, white, lobes 5; filaments glabrous.
Ecology: Moist, subalpine slopes, around rocks, areas of late snow; Elevation: 1800--3505 m. Bioregional Distribution: KR, CaRH, SNH; Distribution Outside California: to Alaska, western Canada, Montana. Flowering Time: Jul--Aug Note: If recognized taxonomically, plants with leaf 3--5 mm, margin minutely glandular-ciliate, in southern CaRH (Lassen Peak), SNH, assignable to Cassiope mertensiana subsp. californica Piper, plants with leaf 2--3 mm, margin with white, ephemeral hairs, in KR, assignable to Cassiope mertensiana subsp. ciliolata Piper.
Jepson eFlora Author: Gary D. Wallace
Index of California Plant Names (ICPN; linked via the Jepson Online Interchange)

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Botanical illustration including Cassiope mertensiana

botanical illustration including Cassiope mertensiana

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Citation for this treatment: Gary D. Wallace 2012, Cassiope mertensiana, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on April 13, 2024.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2024, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on April 13, 2024.

Cassiope mertensiana
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©2010 Julie Kierstead Nelson
Cassiope mertensiana
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©2011 Aaron E. Sims
Cassiope mertensiana
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©2009 Barry Breckling
Cassiope mertensiana
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©2010 Julie Kierstead Nelson
Cassiope mertensiana
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©2014 Steve Matson

More photos of Cassiope mertensiana
in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Cassiope mertensiana:
1. You can change the display of the base map layer control box in the upper right-hand corner.
2. County and Jepson Region polygons can be turned off and on using the check boxes.
map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).


Data provided by the participants of the  Consortium of California Herbaria.
View all CCH records
All markers link to CCH specimen records. The original determination is shown in the popup window.
Blue markers indicate specimens that map to one of the expected Jepson geographic subdivisions (see left map). Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.

CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa, if there are more than 1 infraspecific taxon in CA.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time (fruiting time in some monocot genera).