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

Caltha leptosepala DC.
white mountain marsh-marigold (elkslip; mountain marsh-marigold; white marsh-marigold)
Ranunculaceae (Buttercup family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Rosemary Taylor  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #60574)

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Distribution of Caltha leptosepala
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Caltha leptosepala var. leptosepala

Species Information

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Perennial herb from a short, thick stem-base with fibrous roots; stems erect, 5-40 cm tall; plants smooth, fleshy.
Basal leaves waxy green, the blades oblong egg-shaped to circular or kidney-shaped, 2-12 cm long, margins wavy coarse-toothed, round-toothed, or nearly entire; long-stalked (2-25 cm).
Inflorescence a 1- or 2- (4-) flowered, terminal cyme, the flowers 2-4 cm wide; flower stalks erect, usually leafless or with 1 leaf; petals absent; sepals 6 to 12, white or greenish, tinged bluish on outside, oblong, 8.5-23 mm long; stamens 50 or more.
Follicles, 4 to 15, spreading, linear-oblong, 10-20 mm long, 3-4.5 mm wide; beaks straight or curved, 0.5-1.8 mm long; seeds brown, elliptic, 1.9-2.5 mm long, surface longitudinally wrinkled or grooved.
Two varieties occur in BC:

1. Leaves longer than wide, the margins more sharp-toothed than round-toothed; flowers usually 1 per stem; subalpine and alpine......................... var. leptosepala

1. Leaves nearly as wide as long, the margins subentire to broadly round-toothed; flowers mostly 2 per stem; lowland to subalpine........................... var. biflora (DC.) Lawson

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

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

Habitat / Range

Wet to moist meadows, bogs, fens, streambanks and seepage sites from the lowland to alpine zones; common in W BC, west of the Coast-Cascade Mountains (var. biflora), frequent throughout BC except Queen Charlotte Islands and adjacent coast (var. leptosepala); N to SW AK and S YK, E to AB and S to NM, AZ and CA.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Caltha leptosepala

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) 1080 1510 1890
Slope Gradient (%) 0 14 70
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
120 174 228
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
4 5 7
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: BAFA(4), ESSF(5), MH(1)

Ecological Indicator Information

A very shade-intolerant, subalpine to alpine. Western North American forb distributed equally in the Pacific and Cordilleran regions. Occurs in alpine tundra and subalpine boreal climates. Species occurs on water-receiving sites on moist to wet nutrient-rich soils. Scattered to abundant in herbaceous communities along small streams fed by melting snowbanks. Characteristic of subalpine communities.

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 alpine tundra & boreal.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Caltha biflora subsp. howellii (Huth) Abrams
Caltha howellii Huth
Caltha leptosepala subsp. biflora (DC.) P.G. Sm.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References