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

Parnassia kotzebuei Cham. ex Spreng.
Kotzebue's grass-of-Parnassus (Kotzebue's grass of Parnassus)
Celastraceae (Bittersweet family)
(Previously in Parnassiaceae)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Bryan Kelly-McArthur  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #71504)

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Distribution of Parnassia kotzebuei
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Species Information

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Perennial herb from a short rootstock and fibrous root; stems erect, mostly solitary, simple, 6-20 cm tall.
Basal leaves egg-shaped, abruptly tapered at the base, 0.5-2.5 cm long, entire; stem leaves lacking.
Inflorescence of single terminal flowers on leafless stalks, petals 5, white, 1- to 3(5)-veined, elliptic-lanceolate or more or less egg-shaped; calyces lobed nearly to the base, the lobes oblong, about the same length as the petals; sterile stamens with a thin scale ending in 5 short segments or reduced to a bilobed or single scale.
Capsules, egg-shaped, 0.8-1 cm long; seeds numerous.
The supposedly distinct, more southern var. pumila C.L. Hitchc. & Ownbey also occurs in northern populations and is therefore of dubious merit (Douglas and Ratcliffe 1981).

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Wet to moist meadows and streambanks in the montane to alpine zones; frequent in BC N of 54degreeN and east of the Coast-Cascade Mountains, rare southward; amphiberingian, N to AK, YT and NT, E to Labr. and Greenland, S to WA, NV and WY; Siberia.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Parnassia kotzebuei

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) 810 1598 2120
Slope Gradient (%) 0 22 65
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 21 355
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 4 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: AT(1), BAFA(12), BWBS(1), ESSF(2), ICH(1), SWB(5)


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.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Parnassia kotzebuei var. pumila C.L. Hitchc. & Ownbey

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References