General: Perennial parasitic herb from widespread rhizomes; stems erect, several, clustered, simple, 5-30 cm tall.
Leaves: Basal leaves lacking; stem leaves alternate, linear-elliptic to lanceolate or widely oblanceolate, entire, short-stalked to nearly unstalked, 5-40 mm long, 1-10 mm wide, thick, fleshy, greenish to glaucous.
Flowers: Inflorescence of terminal, compact clusters of somewhat bell-shaped; greenish to white or purple, apetalous flowers; calyces tube-shaped with 5 spreading lobes; stamens 1 mm long and hairy at the base.
Fruits: Berry-like, dry to fleshy, blue to purple or brown, 4-9 mm long.
Notes: Three varieties are recognized in BC. The vars. californica and umbellata may be difficult to separate.
1. Calyx lobes narrowly lanceolate, (2.5) 3-4 mm long; leaves thick and glaucous, the midnerve sometimes visible (the secondary nerves rarely visible); fruits 6-9 mm long; plants more frequent to the north................. var. pallida (A. DC.) M.E. Jones
1. Calyx lobes narrowly egg-shaped to egg-shaped, (1.5) 2-2.5 (3) mm long (if the lobes 2.5 mm or longer then the leaves usually not glaucous and without visible midnerves); fruits 4-6 mm long; plants of S BC.
2. Leaves somewhat fleshy, usually strongly glaucous, secondary veins usually not visible, the margins rarely rolled towards the underside of the leaves................... var. californica (Eastw. ex Rydb.) C.L. Hitchc.
2. Leaves thinner, usually only slightly if at all glaucous, the secondary veins usually plainly visible, the margins usually slightly rolled under towards the underside of the leaves................... var. umbellata
Mesic to dry sandy or rocky slopes and shrublands in the lowland, steppe and montane zones; infrequent in NE, SC and SE BC, rare on S Vancouver Island; var. californica - S to AZ and CA; var. pallida - N to YT and NT, E to MB and S to MN, TX, NM AZ, and OR; var. umbellata - N to NT, E to NF and S to ME, PA, NC, GA, MS and OK.
Recommended citation: Author, Date. Page title. In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2020. E-Flora BC:
Electronic Atlas of the Plants of British Columbia [eflora.bc.ca]. Lab for
Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British
Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed:
2021-07-29 6:50:12 PM
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