Page authors: Don Knoke, David Giblin
Saussurea americana
American sawwort

Distribution: Occurring in the Olympics and Cascades mountains in Washington; Yukon Territory to California, east to Alberta, Montana, and Idaho.

Habitat: Meadows and open, often rocky slopes, where moist, at mid- to high elevations in the mountains.

Flowers: July-September

Origin: Native

Growth Duration: Perennial

Conservation Status: Not of concern


Coarse, fibrous-rooted perennial, the several stout stems 5-12 dm. tall, lightly covered with woolly hairs when young.


Numerous, sharply-toothed, gradually reduced upward, the lower petiolate, the blade triangular-ovate to triangular-cordate, up to 15 cm. long and half as wide, the upper lanceolate, becoming sessile.


Inflorescence somewhat flat-topped, the heads rayless; involucre 10-14 mm. high, narrow, its bracts firm, pale with dark margins and tips, well imbricate, mostly acute, broad, the short outer ones ovate; flowers typically about 13, violet-purple or rarely white.

Identification Notes:

The unique flower color, the mountain habitat, and the triangular, sharp-toothed but spineless leaves should identify this member of the Thistle Tribe.

Accepted Name:
Saussurea americana D.C. Eaton
Publication: Bot. Gaz. 6: 283. 1881.

Synonyms & Misapplications:
(none provided)
Additional Resources:

PNW Herbaria: Specimen records of Saussurea americana in the Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria database.

WA Flora Checklist: Saussurea americana checklist entry.

E-Flora BC: Saussurea americana atlas page.

CalPhotos: Saussurea americana photos.

USDA Plants: Saussurea americana information.

22 photographs:
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