Mountain Grass-of-Parnassus - Parnassia palustris var. montanensis
(see State Rank Reason below)
MNPS Threat Rank
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Parnassia palustris variety montanensis occurs in the western and very northeastern portions of Montana. It grows in a variety of wetland and riparian habitats and conditions ranging from fens, wet meadows, seeps, streambanks, and roadside drainages to canals. Population sizes range from being rare and scattered to common though this plant may go unnoticed due to its stature. However, half of the locations were observed prior to 1970. Most of the locations in the southeast and all locations in the northeast were observed prior to 1970. Current data on distribution, population, and threats is greatly needed, paricularly in southwest and northeast Montana.
PLANTS: Stems mostly solitary, 10–35 cm with 1, mostly cordate-clasping bract.
LEAVES: Basal leaves 8-15 mm long, in rosettes (Lesica et al. 2012; FNA 2016). Leaf shape ovate to reniform with truncate to cordate bases (Lescia et al. 2012).
INFLORESCENCE: Terminal with solitary flowers (FNA 2016). Calyx lobes 5–9 mm long; petals oblong, 8–12 mm long with 7 to 9 veins; staminodia obovate with 5 to 7 capitate lobes. Capsule 7–12 mm long (Lesica et al. 2012).
Flowering in summer (FNA 2016).
Within North America several variants have been recognized and sometimes treated as distinct species (FNA 2016). In the Rocky Mountains and some adjacent ranges the variety montanensis has been recognized as a species (P. montanensis) because it exhibits petals of 7-9 mm by 5-7 mm and staminodes with 7-10 filaments. These characteristics are somewhat intermediate between P. palustris and P. parviflora and it has been suggested they could be of hybrid origin (Hitchcock, Cronquist, Owenby, and Thompson 1955-1969, Vascular Plants of the Pacific Northwest, Parts 1-5). However, in northern Asia a similar variant occurs but in the absence of P. parviflora. Therefore, our plant in Montana is maintained as a variant of Parnassia palustris until further studies are done.
Circumboreal south to CA, UT, CO, ND and MN (Lesica et al. 2012).
Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations:
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(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)
Fens, wet meadows, thickets, and often growing in moss (Lesica et al. 2012).
- Literature Cited AboveLegend: View Online Publication
- Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 2016. Flora of North America north of Mexico, Volume 12. Magnoliophyta: Vitaceae to Garryaceae. Oxford University Press, Inc. New York.
- Hitchcock, C. L.. A. Cronquist, M. Ownbey, and J. W.Thompson. 1955, 1959, 1961, 1964, 1969. Vascular plants of the Pacific Northwest. 5 vols. University of Washington Press, Seattle, WA.
- Lesica, P., M. T. Lavin, and P. F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.