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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Candystick - Allotropa virgata

Potential Species of Concern
Native Species

Global Rank: G4
State Rank: S3S4
(see State Rank Reason below)
State Threat Score: Unknown

Agency Status


External Links

State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
Limited distribution and small population sizes make the species potentially vulnerable to impacts to its habitat, primary lodgepole pine stands. Trend and monitoring data for the species are lacking. However, populations are presumed to be relatively stable at the present time.
General Description
Candystick has pink and white-striped stems, 1-4 dm high and 5-10 mm thick. Stems are clothed in white to pinkish, alternate, lance-shaped leaves that are largest near mid-stem. Flowers are borne in tight clusters in the axils of the upper leaves (bracts). Each flower has 5 separate white to pinkish sepals, ca. 5 mm long, and 10 purple stamens. Petals are lacking. The 5-lobed ovary matures to form a many-seeded capsule.

Flowering in July and August.

Diagnostic Characteristics
The pink and white stems lacking green leaves are distinctive.

Species Range
Montana Range Range Descriptions


Range Comments
Southern Sierra Nevada Mountains and the coastal ranges of California, north to British Columbia from the eastern slope of the Cascade Range to near the coast; disjunct in Idaho and southwestern Montana. Disjunct.

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 231

(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)

Deep humus of mature, usually lodgepole pine forests in the montane zone.
Predicted Suitable Habitat Model

This species has a Predicted Suitable Habitat Model available.

To learn how these Models were created see

Allotropa virgata lacks chlorophyll and it obtains nutrients from other vascular plants through a mycorrhizal (fungal) association. Matsutake mushroom mycelium are reported as the mycorrhizal associate.

Suitable management practices that maintains lodgepole pine stands and associated litter/duff layers in which the mycorrhizal associate are located are neccassary.

Threats or Limiting Factors
Reported threats to Montana’s populations of Candystick are currently assigned as unknown (MTNHP Threat Assessment 2021). Widespread loss of lodgepole stands would have detrimental outcomes for Candystick populations. Information is needed about negative impacts to Candystick populations expected within a 10-year timeframe in order to evaluate the threat of shifting habitat using NatureServe methods.

  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
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    • Castellano, M. A., and J. M. Trappe. 1985. Mycorrhizal associations of five species of Monotropoideae in Oregon. Mycologia 77(3): 499-502.
    • Furman, T. E. and J. M. Trappe. 1971. Phylogeny and ecology of mycotrophic achlorophyllous angiosperms. Quarterly Review of Biology 46:219-225.
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.
    • Lichthardt, J.J. 1992. Population monitoring of Allotropa virgata (candystick) on the Nez Perce National Forest: third-year results. Unpublished report. Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Boise, Idaho. 21 pp.
    • Lichthardt, J.J. 1995. Conservation strategy for Allotropa virgata (candystick), Northern and Intermountain Regions, U.S. Forest Service. Unpublished report to U.S. Forest Service. Idaho Conservation Data Center, Boise, Idaho. 24 pp. plus appendics.
    • Lorain, C. C. 1988. Floristic history and distribution of coastal disjunct plants of the northern Rocky Mountains. M.S. thesis. College of Forestry, Wildlife, and Range Sciences, University of Idaho, Moscow. 221 pp.
    • Poole, J.M. 1992. Results of field surveys for Allotropa virgata in the Beaverhead and Deerlodge National Forests. Unpublished report. Montana Natural Heritage Program, Helena, MT. 11 pp. plus appendix.
    • Roe, L.S. 1992. Status review of Allotropa virgata, U.S.D.A. Forest Service, Region 1, Bitterroot and Deerlodge National Forests, Montana. Unpublished report, Montana Natural Heritage Program 71pp.
    • Steele, R. and P.F. Stickney. 1974. Allotropa virgata (Ericaceae), first records for Idaho and Montana. Madrono 22(5):277.
    • Takahashi, H. 1987. Pollen morphology and its taxonomic significance of the Monotropoideae (Ericaceae).
    • Wallace, G. D. 1977. Studies of the Monotropoideae (Ericaceae) Floral nectares: anatomy and function in pollination ecology. American Journal of Botany 64:199-206.
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Citation for data on this website:
Candystick — Allotropa virgata.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from