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

Purshia tridentata (Pursh) DC.
antelope-brush (antelope bitterbrush; bitter-brush)
Rosaceae (Rose family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Bryan Kelly-McArthur  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #87555)

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Distribution of Purshia tridentata
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Species Information

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Medium to tall shrub, 1-2 (3) m tall; stems erect, freely and rigidly branched, twigs woolly-hairy, especially when young.
Alternate, deciduous, in small bundles on short lateral spur-shoots, wedge-shaped, mostly 1-2 cm long, 3-toothed at the tip, silvery-greenish and hairy on the upper surface, grey-woolly beneath, the margins rolled under.
Inflorescence of single, short-stalked flowers at ends of short, lateral, leafy spur-shoots; corollas yellow to cream, wheel-shaped, the petals 5, egg- to spoon-shaped, 5-9 mm long, early-deciduous; calyces bell-shaped, woolly- or cobwebby-hairy and stalked-glandular, 5-lobed, the lobes oblong-egg-shaped, 3-4 mm long; ovaries superior; stamens about 25.
Large achenes, about 15 mm long including the persistent style, ellipsoid-spindle-shaped, somewhat leathery, velvety-hairy and glandular; seeds 1, black, pear-shaped, 6-8 mm long.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

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

Habitat / Range

Dry open slopes, grasslands and sagebrush shrublands in the steppe and adjoining lower montane zones; common in extreme S BC, east of the Coast-Cascade Mountains and south of about 51degreeN; S to MT, WY, CO, NM and CA.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Purshia tridentata

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) 280 727 1540
Slope Gradient (%) 0 21 202
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 215 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 2 5
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: BG(88), IDF(99), MS(2), PP(166)


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.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Purshia tridentata var. tridentata

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References