E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Circaea alpina L.
enchanter's-nightshade (small enchanter's nightshade)
Onagraceae (Evening Primrose family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Adolf Ceska  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #11400)

E-Flora BC Static Map
Distribution of Circaea alpina
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Species Information

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Perennial herb from a slender, tuber-tipped rhizome; stems erect, 10-50 cm tall, simple or branched, glabrous or appressed short-hairy.
Opposite, heart- to egg-shaped, 2-6 cm long, more or less entire to toothed, short-hairy on the lower surface, tips pointed; stalks 1.5-4 cm long, with narrow wings.
Inflorescence of terminal clusters of 8-12 flowers, often with 1 or 2 linear bracts at the base; flower stalks spreading to erect, becoming reflexed and about equalling the fruit; hypanthium 0.3-0.5 mm long; petals 2, white to pale pink, 1-1.5 mm long, erect, deeply notched; sepals 2, 1-2 mm long, bent downward; stigmas 2-lobed.
Capsules, top- or pear-shaped, about 2 mm long, hooked-hairy, 1-chambered; seeds 1, glabrous.
Two subspecies occur in BC:

1. Stems glabrous; leaf bases heart-shaped; margins toothed; plants from throughout BC.................. ssp. alpina

1. Stems hairy; leaf bases from nearly heart-shaped to blunt; margins nearly entire to toothed; plants from coastal and S BC................... ssp. pacifica (Asch. & Magnus) Raven

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

Flower Colour:
Blooming Period:
Late Spring
Fruit/Seed characteristics:
Colour: Brown
Present from Summer to Fall
Source:  The USDA

Habitat / Range

Moist to wet forests in the lowland and montane zones; frequent throughout BC; circumboreal, N to AK and NT, E to NF and S to GA, SD, CO and CA; Eurasia.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Circaea alpina

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 0 575 2750
Slope Gradient (%) 0 11 119
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 344 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 5 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: BG(2), BWBS(36), CDF(4), CWH(556), ESSF(47), ICH(569), IDF(46), MH(4), MS(7), PP(2), SBPS(3), SBS(260)

Ecological Indicator Information

A shade-tolerant/intolerant, submontane to montane. Western North American forb distributed more in the Pacific than the Cordilleran region. Occurs in maritime to submaritime cool mesothermal climates on fresh to very moist, nitrogen-rich soils, often with a fluctuating groundwater table. Its occurrence decreases with increasing elevation, precipitation, and continentality. Common on water­receiving (flooded) sites in the herbaceous understory of broad-leaved forests (black cottonwood, broad-leaved maple, or red alder); often inhabits exposed mineral soil. A nitrophytic species characteristic of Moder and Mull humus forms.

SourceIndicator Plants of Coastal British Columbia (Information applies to coastal locations only)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

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