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

Trientalis latifolia Hook.
Northern Starflower (broad-leaved starflower; starflower; western starflower)
Myrsinaceae (Myrsine family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Gary Ansell  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #12934)

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Distribution of Trientalis latifolia
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Species Information

General:
Plants from a usually vertical tuber; tuber 1-2 cm.
Stems:
Stems 10-25 cm tall.
Leaves:
Leaves mostly whorled at stem apex; primary leaves 3-8, elliptic or broadly elliptic to almost orbiculate, widest around midpoint, apices acute to acuminate (sometimes rounded), bases long tapering, (2.5) 4-11 cm; stem leaves alternate, reduced and scale-like.
Flowers:
Flowers 1-5 per plant; corollas pinkish to whitish, 4.5-9 mm across; corolla lobes ovate to lanceolate, apices acute to acuminate; pedicels shorter than to slightly longer than the leaves (especially in fruit), glabrous to sparsely glandular, 3-4.5 cm. Flowering Apr-Jun.
Fruits:
Fruits globose capsules, valvate; seeds black to reddish-brown, with a deciduous, white, net-like coating.

Source: The Vascular Flora of British Columbia, draft 2014.
Author: Jamie Fenneman

Habitat / Range

Moist to mesic coniferous forests, mixed woodlands, and riparian areas in the lowland and montane zones. Common in sw BC (Vancouver Island, southern mainland coast), rare and local in wc and c BC; south to CA, ID; disjunct in YT.

Source: The Vascular Flora of British Columbia, draft 2014.
Author: Jamie Fenneman

Additional Notes

No combination for Trientalis latifolia in Lysimachia has been proposed, so no names are available for the species if it is moved to that genus. This is a common forest herb in southwestern B.C., where it can be found in a wide variety of woodland habitats; it is considerably less common elsewhere in B.C.

A very similar species, Trientalis borealis Raf. (BOREAL STARFLOWER), occurs throughout most of the boreal regions of Canada east of the Rocky Mountains, occurring west to northern Alberta; it may occur in extreme northeast BC. It has narrower primary leaves than T. latifolia (lanceolate or lanceolate-elliptic, rather than broadly elliptic to nearly orbicular), with fewer flowers per plant (1-3) and consistently white corollas (corollas usually pink or pink-tinged in T. latifolia). Some plants of T. latifolia (particularly on Vancouver Island) approach T. borealis in leaf shape and corolla colour; however, the two species have widely allopatric distributions and are not known to occur together, which greatly facilitates their identification.

Source: The Vascular Flora of British Columbia, draft 2014
Author: Jamie Fenneman

Family Information

Annual or perennial herbs from fibrous roots, a taproot, a horizontal rhizome, or a small tuber (or a greatly enlarged tuber in Cyclamen); plants often with secretory resin canals that appear as dark dots or streaks. Stems trailing to erect, solitary to several, branched or simple. Leaves generally cauline (all basal in Cyclamen), alternate or opposite (sometimes whorled or pseudowhorled). Inflorescences variable, ranging from solitary axillary flowers or axillary whorls to stalked axillary racemes, terminal or axillary panicles, or erect terminal racemes. Flowers bisexual, usually stalked; corollas usually radially symmetric (sometimes lacking), rotate or campanulate to funneliform, (4-) 5- to 9-lobed; calyces (4-) 5- to 9-lobed; stamens (4-) 5-9; filaments distinct or connate; ovary superior; styles 1. Fruit a capsule, valvate or circumcissile; seeds usually brown or reddish-brown to black. Genera ~50, species ~1400 (5 genera, 12 species in B.C.). Nearly worldwide, except absent from many deserts and polar regions.

The genera here were all formerly included within a broadly-defined Primulaceae, but have since been moved to the closely related Myrsinaceae following recent molecular-genetic studies that have shown strong support for their inclusion in the latter family (Källersjö et al. 2000, Trift et al. 2002, Cholewa et al. 2009). All genera in B.C., with the exception of the genus Cyclamen, are apparently derived from within the large, highly paraphyletic genus Lysimachia (Hao et al. 2004, Anderberg et al. 2007), at least in its broadest sense, and some authors prefer to treat some or all of these genera as members of that genus so as to preserve its monophyly; however, most published phylogenies of the group (e.g., Hao et al. 2004, Manns and Anderberg 2005, Anderberg et al. 2007) suggest that it consists of a number of well-supported individual clades that might be better recognized as genera. Although such an approach would result in the redistribution of some Lysimachia species into new genera, it seems to best represent the systematics of the group and, as a result, it is the approach that is followed in this treatment (i.e., recognition of Steironema, Anagallis, and Trientalis as separate from Lysimachia). Several species of Cyclamen and Lysimachia are grown as ornamentals in southern British Columbia, including the naturalized species Cyclamen hederifolium, Lysimachia punctata, L. nummularia, and L. vulgaris.

Key to the Genera of Myrsinaceae

1a. Corolla lobes sharply reflexed; plants scapose, from a greatly enlarged, round, flattened tuber; leaves all basal, arising directly from the tuber………………………………………………………………………………………………..Cyclamen

1b. Corollas usually rotate or campanulate to funneliform, but corolla lobes never sharply reflexed; plants not scapose, from fibrous roots, short rhizomes, or small, slightly enlarged, ascending or horizontal tubers; leaves all cauline……………..……...........2

2a. Plants annual (rarely perennial); fibrous-rooted to taprooted…………….……………………………...………..….....…Anagallis

2b. Plants perennial; from rhizome or a small, slightly thickened, horizontal to ascending tuber…………...…………………...........….4

4a. Corollas yellow……..……………………………………………...……………………………………………..…………5

5a. Flowers solitary, axillary; stems erect; leaves ovate to broadly lanceolate…………………..…………….....….Steironema

5b. Flowers usually in terminal or axillary racemes or axillary whorls, if solitary and axillary then stems creeping and leaves nearly orbicular……………………………………………………………………………………..……Lysimachia (in part)

4b. Corollas whitish to pinkish, or corollas absent and calyces instead corolla-like and whitish or pinkish…...………….…..…......6

6a. Plants succulent, glaucous; leaves distributed throughout the stems; flowers sessile; corollas absent; calyx lobes whitish or pinkish, corolla-like; plants restricted to saline or alkaline habitats…….…….…….…………...……...Lysimachia (in part)

6b. Plants not succulent, not glaucous; leaves mostly in a single pseudowhorl at top of the stem (stem leaves reduced or scale-like); flowers long-stalked; corollas present; calyces green, not corolla like; plants widespread in terrestrial and some wetland habitats, but never associated with saline or alkaline habitats……………………...……………………..Trientalis


Source: The Vascular Flora of British Columbia, draft 2014.
Author: Jamie Fenneman

Genus Information

Perennial herbs, from slender or tuberous rhizomes. Stems erect, simple, glabrous. Leaves mostly in a terminal whorl or cluster (primary leaves), dimorphic, sessile to short-stalked; primary leaves lanceolate to broadly obovate or spatulate, entire, glabrous; stem leaves reduced or scale-like. Flowers long-stalked, solitary, axillary in uppermost leaves. Flowers 1-several per plant; corollas rotate, 5- to 9-lobed, white to pinkish; calyces green, deeply 5- to 9-lobed, the lobes linear-lanceolate to lanceolate; stamens 5-9; filaments partly connate. Fruits globose capsules, valvate; seeds black to reddish-brown, with a deciduous, white, net-like coating. 3 spp. (2 spp. in B.C.). North America, Eurasia.

Species of Trientalis are all very closely related, and the number of species recognized in the genus has ranged from one to four in the past. It is closely related to Lysimachia, and, like several other genera in Myrsinaceae, its recognition make traditional circumscriptions of that genus paraphyletic; monophyly in Lysimachia and Trientalis is apparently maintained with the recognition of Steironema (Manns and Anderberg 2005), as is done here. Note that, in this treatment, the leaves that comprise the pseudowhorl subtending the inflorescence are termed primary leaves, while the reduced leaves below this pseudowhorl are termed stem leaves.


Source: The Vascular Flora of British Columbia, draft 2014.
Author: Jamie Fenneman

Ecology

Ecological Framework for Trientalis latifolia

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

Minimum

Average

Maximum

Elevation (metres) 0 329 1700
Slope Gradient (%) 0 20 240
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
9 233 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 3 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
Class
C
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
991
Modal BEC Zone Class
CWH
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: BAFA(5), CDF(193), CMA(1), CWH(569), ESSF(10), ICH(12), IDF(109), MH(1), SBS(14), SWB(3)

Ecological Indicator Information

A shade-tolerant/intolerant, submontane to subalpine, Western North American forb distributed equally in the Pacific and Cordilleran regions. Occurs in cool temperate and cool mesothermal climates on moderately dry to fresh, nitrogen-medium soils; its occurrence decreases with increasing elevation and latitude. Scattered to plentiful on water-shedding sites, less frequent on water-receiving sites. Usually associated with Acer glabrum, Kindbergia oregana, Mahonia nervosa, and Polystichum munitum. Characteristic of young­seral forests.

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

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Trientalis borealis subsp. latifolia [Hook.] Hult
Trientalis europaea var. latifolia [Hook.] Torr.)

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

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General References