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Vascular Plants of California
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Parnassia palustris

Higher Taxonomy
Family: ParnassiaceaeView Description 
Habit: Perennial herb from caudex or rhizome [annual], generally glabrous, often with +- red marks on leaves, flowers when dry. Stem: scape with generally 1 leaf-like bract [scape 0]. Leaf: simple, basal [cauline], alternate [subopposite], generally petioled, often with +- red marks when dry; veins +- palmate. Inflorescence: 1-flowered [cyme]. Flower: generally bisexual, +- radial; hypanthium minute, free from ovary; calyx lobes generally 5; petals generally 5 [0], free, generally white; stamens generally 5, opposite sepals; staminodes generally 5, alternate stamens, lobes generally present, thread-like to oblong, gland-tipped; pistil 1, ovary superior, chamber +- 1, placentas 4 [3], axile below, parietal above, styles very short, stigmas [3]4. Fruit: [3]4-valved capsule. Seed: many, winged, netted.
Genera In Family: 2 genera, +- 70 species: northern temperate, low arctic, alpine, temp South America (Lepuropetalon, Parnassia). Note: Formerly included in Saxifragaceae.
eFlora Treatment Author: Peter W. Ball
Scientific Editor: Thomas J. Rosatti.
Genus: ParnassiaView DescriptionDichotomous Key

Leaf: basal, blade ovate to reniform, entire, base tapered to cordate. Flower: petals white, with yellow, green or gray-brown lines.
Species In Genus: +- 70 species. Etymology: (Mount Parnassus, Greece)
Unabridged Reference: R.B. Phillips 1980, Ph.D. Dissertation, Univ of California, Berkeley
Parnassia palustris L.
Leaf: 4--14 cm; blade 2--5 cm, lance-ovate, base tapered to cordate. Inflorescence: 15--47 cm; bract generally above scape middle (generally at or below middle in SN) [rarely above middle in North America outside California], elliptic. Flower: calyx lobes 3--11 mm, elliptic, entire, spreading in fruit; petals 8--20 mm, 1.5--2 × sepals, round-ovate, entire; staminodes 5--9 mm, lobes (7)9--27, thread-like, tips spheric; anthers 1.5--2.8 mm. Fruit: 8--12 mm. Chromosomes: 2n=18,36[27,54].
Ecology: Wet banks, meadows; Elevation: < 3600 m. Bioregional Distribution: KR, NCoRO, NCoRH, CaRH, SNH, SnFrB, SCoR, SnBr, SNE; Distribution Outside California: to Alaska, eastern Canada; Eurasia. Flowering Time: Jul--Oct
Synonyms: Parnassia californica (A. Gray) Greene; Parnassia palustris var. californica A. Gray; Parnassia palustris var. montanensis (Fernald & Rydb. ex Rydb.) C.L. Hitchc.; Parnassia palustris var. neogaea Fernald
Jepson eFlora Author: Peter W. Ball
Index of California Plant Names (ICPN; linked via the Jepson Online Interchange)

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Botanical illustration including Parnassia palustris

botanical illustration including Parnassia palustris


Citation for this treatment: Peter W. Ball 2012, Parnassia palustris, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on August 05, 2021.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2021, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on August 05, 2021.

Parnassia palustris
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© 2009 Keir Morse
Parnassia palustris
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© 2003 Christopher L. Christie
Parnassia palustris
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© 2007 Aaron Schusteff
Parnassia palustris
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© 2009 Keir Morse
Parnassia palustris
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© 2020 Aaron Schusteff
Parnassia palustris
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© 2010 California Academy of Sciences

More photos of Parnassia palustris in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Parnassia palustris:
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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).


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Data provided by the participants of the  Consortium of California Herbaria.
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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).