[The Bleeding Heart Family East of the Cascade Mts. of Oregon and Washington]

One-flowered Dicentra, Longhorn Steer's-head, Long-horn Steer's-head, Steer's Head

Dicentra uniflora

One-flowered Dicentra, Longhorn Steer's-head, Long-horn Steer's-head, Steer's Head: Dicentra uniflora

A late blooming steer's head as seen near the summit of the Strawbery Basin Trail #375 (at a point where the snow hangs late into the season several hundred yards south of the junction with the Onion Creek Trail #368), Strawberry Mountain Wilderness.........July 18, 2013.

Characteristics:

Steer's head is a small perennial with one to several ternate, dissected or parted, 1- or 2- lobed leaves hugging the ground. The oblanceolate segments of the glaucous blades are 1-4 mm wide. The leafless scapes are 4-8 cm high with 1 or 2 small bracts below the flower.

A single whitish or pinkish flower is found barely above the leaves. Its shape does resemble a steer's head when viewed from above(See photos.). The sepals are oblong, about 4 mm long, and often reddish or purplish in color. The outer pair of petals are slightly pouched at the base, and recurved to sharply reflexed backwards. The inner pair of petals are straight, wider near the base, narrowing near the tip, then expanding to a rounded tip. The inner petals measure 12-15 mm long. The slender style is 2-3 mm long and the stigma is discoid. The fruit is an ovoid-ellipsoid capsule from 10-13 mm long.

This plant typically blooms several days after the mountain snows have melted. As it blooms so early in the season, it frequently is not seen. Steer's Head is a choice Rock Garden Plant, but is extremely difficult to grow outdoors west of the Cascades.


Habitat:

Dicentra uniflora may be found on open ground, typically near melting snow patches, from the foothills to subalpine mountain slopes.


Range:

Dicentra uniflora is found along the east slopes of the Cascades Mountains of Oregon and Washington and the east slopes of the Sierra Nevada. Occasionally it may be found on arid slopes west of the Cascades. Its range extends eastward to Idaho, Wyoming, and Utah.


Close-up of a flower of One-flowered Dicentra, Longhorn Steer's-head, Long-horn Steer's-head, Steer's Head: Dicentra uniflora - One-flowered Dicentra, Longhorn Steer's-head, Long-horn Steer's-head, Steer's Head: Dicentra uniflora

Close-ups of steer's head as seen along Trail #201 just west of its junction with Trail #368, Strawberry Mountain Wilderness.......July 1, 2010.

Close-up of a flower of One-flowered Dicentra, Longhorn Steer's-head, Long-horn Steer's-head, Steer's Head: Dicentra uniflora - One-flowered Dicentra, Longhorn Steer's-head, Long-horn Steer's-head, Steer's Head: Dicentra uniflora

Samples of steer's head as seen on rock outcrops directly uphill to the east of the Jackman Park Campground, Steens Mountain of southeastern Oregon.......June 2, 2012.

One-flowered Dicentra, Longhorn Steer's-head, Long-horn Steer's-head, Steer's Head: Dicentra uniflora

One-flowered Dicentra, Longhorn Steer's-head, Long-horn Steer's-head, Steer's Head: Dicentra uniflora - One-flowered Dicentra, Longhorn Steer's-head, Long-horn Steer's-head, Steer's Head: Dicentra uniflora

Steer's head as seen along Trail #808A in rocky scablands where the slope begins sloping south towards Brush Creek atop Lookout Mt., Ochoco National Forest........May 29, 2016.

One-flowered Dicentra, Longhorn Steer's-head, Long-horn Steer's-head, Steer's Head: Dicentra uniflora - One-flowered Dicentra, Longhorn Steer's-head, Long-horn Steer's-head, Steer's Head: Dicentra uniflora

Steers heads blooming along the first mile of the east end of the Skyline Trail, east side of the Strawberry Mountains..........May 28, 2014.

One-flowered Dicentra, Longhorn Steer's-head, Long-horn Steer's-head, Steer's Head: Dicentra uniflora - One-flowered Dicentra, Longhorn Steer's-head, Long-horn Steer's-head, Steer's Head: Dicentra uniflora

Steers heads blooming near melting show patches on rocky outcrops above the east bank of Lodgepole Creek, along the Line Butte Trail at the southern base of Lookout Mountain, Ochoco National Forest..........May 22, 2017.

One-flowered Dicentra, Longhorn Steer's-head, Long-horn Steer's-head, Steer's Head: Dicentra uniflora

The photo above shows steer's head from Fish Lake on the Steens Mountain. Note the single glaucous leaf.

Paul Slichter