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Perennial herb from a taproot; stems erect, solitary or several, simple, smooth, 10-50 cm tall.
Basal leaves linear, smooth to fringed and hairy, entire, 5-10 cm long, 1-3 mm wide, persistent, stem leaves lacking.
Inflorescence of dense, head-like flower clusters, 1.5-3 cm wide; flowers short-stalked in clusters of 3, subtended by 2 transparent bracts; corollas pinkish to lavender, deeply 5-lobed; calyces pinkish to lavender, 5-6 mm long, soft-hairy, 10 veined, longer than the corollas; outer involucral bracts purplish with papery margins.
Utricles, small, dry, 1-chambered; seeds 1.
Two subspecies are recognized in BC:
1. Outer involucral bracts narrowly tapered or awl-shaped, surpassing the inner ones; leaves smooth......................... ssp. californica (Boiss.) Porsild
1. Outer involucral bracts egg-shaped to rounded, usually shorter than the inner ones; leaves usually minutely fringed below..................... ssp. sibirica (Turcz. ex Boiss.) Nyman
Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia