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

Orthocarpus luteus Nutt.
yellow owl-clover (yellow owl's-clover)
Orobanchaceae (Broom-rape family)
(Previously in Scrophulariaceae)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Sharon E. Godkin  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #71025)

E-Flora BC Static Map
Distribution of Orthocarpus luteus
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Species Information

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Annual herb; stems erect, 10-40 cm tall, slender, simple or rarely few-branched above, spreading-hairy, often also glandular-hairy above, yellow-green sometimes becoming purple-tinged.
Alternate, unstalked, linear to narrowly lanceolate, 1.5-4 cm long, dark green, short-spreading-hairy, usually entire, sometimes the upper 3-cleft, the upper leaves passing gradually into the wider, 3-lobed bracts of the inflorescence.
Inflorescence a dense, ultimately elongate, prominently bracted, densely glandular-hairy, terminal spike 5-20 cm long, the bracts dark green, glandular-hairy, 10-15 mm long, differing gradually from the leaves, 3-lobed, the 2 lateral lobes small, divergent, about half as long as the narrowly egg-shaped middle lobe; corollas golden-yellow, minutely hairy, 9-15 mm long, exserted from the bracts, tubular, about equally 2-lipped, the upper lip beaked and minutely hooked, the lower lip swollen, pouched, minutely 3-toothed; calyces tubular, 5-8 mm long, green, glandular-hairy, subequally 4-lobed; stamens 4.
Capsules, ellipsoid, 5-7 mm long; seeds 20 to 35, about 1 mm long, with tight-fitting, netted, wrinkled coats.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

Flower Colour:
Blooming Period:
Early Summer
Fruit/Seed characteristics:
Colour: Brown
Present over the Summer
Source:  The USDA

Habitat / Range

Dry to mesic meadows, grasslands and shrublands in the steppe and montane zones; infrequent in BC east of the Coast-Cascade Mountains and S of 56degreeN; E to ON and S to MN, NE, NM, AZ and CA.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Orthocarpus luteus

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) 475 953 2290
Slope Gradient (%) 0 8 62
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
9 236 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
1 3 6
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(47), ESSF(2), ICH(1), IDF(102), MS(4), PP(22)


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

Additional Photo Sources

General References