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

Orthocarpus tenuifolius (Pursh) Benth.
thin-leaved owl-clover (thinleaved owl's-clover)
Orobanchaceae (Broom-rape family)
(Previously in Scrophulariaceae)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Bryan Kelly-McArthur  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #83740)

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Distribution of Orthocarpus tenuifolius
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Species Information

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Annual herb; stems erect, 10-30 cm tall, simple or branched above; short-hairy.
Alternate, unstalked, 1-5 cm long, the lowermost linear and entire, the others with 1 or 2 pairs of slender lobes, short-hairy.
Inflorescence a dense, prominently bracted, terminal spike, the bracts differing abruptly from the leaves, shorter, broader, blunt-tipped, net-veined, at least the upper showy and petal-like with pink-purple tips, the lower with a pair of slender lateral lobes and commonly bristle-fringed below the middle; corollas yellow, sometimes purplish-tipped, hairy, 14-20 mm long, largely hidden by the bracts, tubular, 2-lipped, the upper lip beak-like and hooked, surpassing the lower lip by about 1 mm, the lower lip broader, moderately pouched, tipped with 3 tiny teeth; calyces tubular, hairy but non-glandular, 2-cleft, each segment 2-lobed, the lobes shorter than the tube; stamens 4.
Capsules, ellipsoid; seeds several, with netted coats.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

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

Habitat / Range

Moist to dry, open sites in the steppe and montane zones; infrequent in extreme SC and SE BC; S to MT, ID and OR.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Orthocarpus tenuifolius

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) 810 977 1484
Slope Gradient (%) 0 22 45
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
127 173 300
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
1 2 4
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(2), MS(1), PP(4)


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