Page authors: Don Knoke, David Giblin
Parnassia palustris
grass-of-parnassus, northern grass-of-parnassus

Distribution: Primarily west of the Cascades in Washington on the Olympic Peninsula and southwestern counties; Arctic America south to Minnesota and British Columbia, in the Rocky Mountains to Colorado and in parts of the Sierra Nevada in California.

Habitat: Arctic tundra to moist, shaded areas in the mountains, where usually along streams or around springs.

Flowers: July-August

Origin: Native

Growth Duration: Perennial

Conservation Status: Sensitive in Washington (WANHP)


Glabrous, scapose perennial herb from a short rhizome, the flowering stems 10-25 cm. tall, with a lanceolate to broadly ovate bract up to 3 cm. long and 2.5 mm. broad about mid-length on the scape.


Leaves basal, the petioles 1.5-4 times as long as the blades; leaf blades deltoid-ovate to elliptic-ovate, 10-20 mm. long, abruptly tapered, usually truncate.


Flowers single and terminal on long, erect peduncles; calyx attached to the ovary for 2-3 mm., the 5 lobes lanceolate, entire, 5-8 mm. long, 5-9 veined; petals 5, white, ovate to elliptic-ovate, 7-12 mm. long, not clawed; scale-like projection at base of petal flared into a broadened upper portion divided into 7-11 slender segments; filaments broad, longer or shorter than the 2-3 mm. long anthers.


Capsule ovoid, 10-12 mm. long.

Accepted Name:
Parnassia palustris L.
Publication: Sp. Pl. 1: 273. 1753.

Synonyms & Misapplications:
Parnassia multiseta (Ledeb.) Fernald
Parnassia palustris L. ssp. neogaea (Fernald) Hultén
Parnassia palustris L. var. montanensis (Fernald & Rydb. ex Rydb.) C.L. Hitchc. [HC]
Parnassia palustris L. var. neogaea Fernald [WNHP]
Parnassia palustris L. var. tenuis Wahlenb. [KZ99]
Additional Resources:

PNW Herbaria: Specimen records of Parnassia palustris in the Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria database.

WA Flora Checklist: Parnassia palustris checklist entry.

E-Flora BC: Parnassia palustris atlas page.

CalPhotos: Parnassia palustris photos.

USDA Plants: Parnassia palustris information.

11 photographs:
Group by