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

Lappula occidentalis (S. Watson) Greene
western stickseed (flatspine stickseed)
Boraginaceae (Borage family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Jamie Fenneman  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #3999)

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Distribution of Lappula occidentalis
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Species Information

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Annual herb from a taproot, short curly- or stiff-hairy (or appressed-hairy) throughout; stems simple or branched above, 5-50 cm tall.
Basal leaves oblanceolate, often deciduous, 2-6 cm long, to 1 cm wide; stem leaves linear or linear-oblong to oblanceolate, reduced upward to the leafy, lanceolate bracts of the inflorescence, unstalked or nearly so, entire, alternate.
Inflorescence of narrow, elongating clusters that have bracts throughout; flower stalks ascending to erect when in fruit; petals blue or white, fused at base into small (2-4 mm long) tube that flares a bit (1.5-2.5 mm wide) at the top to 5 lobes, with 5 yellow bulges at the throat; fruiting calyces 3-3.5 mm long, the lobes erect.
Nutlets 4, clustered together, egg-shaped, 2-3 mm long, with a crown of marginal, barb-tipped prickles in a single row, prickles distinct or sometimes fused at the base to form a cuplike rim.

Note: Two varieties occur in BC:
1. Prickles of nutlets distinct to base; the common variety var. occidentalis
1. Prickles of nutlets fused at base, forming a cup; rare var. cupulata (A. Gray) Higgins

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Dry to mesic roadsides, disturbed areas, grasslands and shrublands in the lowland, steppe and lower montane zones; common in S BC east of the Coast-Cascade Mountains, less common northward; circumpolar, S to NM, AZ and CA; S America, Eurasia.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Lappula occidentalis

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) 545 1145 1537
Slope Gradient (%) 0 40 85
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
125 183 214
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 1 2
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: IDF(5), PP(1)


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 not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References