Perennial herb from slender rhizomes, with coarse, fibrous roots; stems 10-50 cm tall, glandular-hairy, leafy.
Stem leaves 3 to 5, lanceolate to elliptic, 5-15 cm long, 3.5-6 cm wide, ribbed, the base sheathing.
Inflorescence usually of a single, showy flower; sepals greenish-yellow to purplish or purple-veined, 3-5 cm long, 1-2 cm wide, upper sepal broadly lanceolate, the lower sepals united, pendant behind lip; lateral petals narrower than but otherwise similar to upper sepal, sometimes twisted, 3.5-5 cm long; lip balloon-like, generally egg-shaped, 2-3.5 cm long, yellow, often purple-spotted on inside especially near mouth, mouth puckered, margin in-rolled.
Capsules, erect, ellipsoid, ribbed, glandular-hairy.
C. x columbianum Sheviak, a hybrid of C. montanum and C. parviflorum var. pubescens, is known from BC and the adjacent NW U.S.A. (see notes under C. montanum). Two varieties of C. parviflorum occur in BC var. makasin and var. pubescens. Some authors (e.g., Cribb 1997) include var. makasin within var. parviflorum, a variety not found in BC
1. Outer surface of sheathing bract sparsely hairy to smooth, when young; intense sweet scent................. var. makasin (Farwell) Sheviak
1. Sheathing bract densely hairy when young; moderately scented................. var. pubescens (Willd.) Knight