The photo above shows a close-up of the flower of steer's head as seen from Mt. Adams...............early May, 2006.
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.
Dicentra uniflora may be found on open ground, typically near melting snow patches, from the foothills to subalpine mountain slopes.
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.
The photo above shows steer's head from Fish Lake on the Steens Mountain. Note the single glaucous leaf.