[The Genus Frasera East of the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and Washington]

White-stemmed Frasera

Frasera albicaulis

Cusick's frasera (Frasera albicaulis var. cusckii)

Cusick's frasera (Frasera albicaulis var. cusckii)


1. 4-petaled flowers have their petals widely reflexed outward. The flowers are whitish to light blue, with a dark bluish to purplish mottling.

2. Flowers are located in tight racemes at the apex of the plant.

3. Stems are erect, and stiff.

4. The basal leaves are linear-oblanceolate in shape, to occasionally spatulate.

5. The cauline (stem) leaves are opposite, much reduced upwards on the stem, and linear-oblanceolate in shape.

6. Plants may be glabrous (green), but are more frequently densely short haired (a grayish color as a result).

Varieties of White-stemmed Frasera Found in the Pacific Northwest:

Douglas' Frasera, Whitestem Frasera: Frasera albicaulis var. albicaulis (Synonyms: Frasera nitida var. albicaulis, Leucocraspedum albicaule, Swertia albicaulis, Swertia albicaulis var. albicaulis, Swertia watsonii) - Stems and leaves uniformly covered with fine, minute hairs. Corolla bright blue. Crown scales lanceolate and divided at the tip into several long, linear segments. Found across central and eastern Washington east of the Cascade crest. Also found along the southern boundary of central and southeastern Oregon.

Columbia Frasera, Whitestem Frasera: Frasera albicaulis var. columbiana (Synonyms: Frasera albicaulis ssp. columbiana, Swertia columbiana) - Stems glabrous. Corolla pale to dark blue but usually with darker-mottling. Sheath of basal leaves usually longer than 1.5 cm and bluish tinged, covered with fine, mintue hairs. Crown scales 3-4 mm long, lanceolate in outline, the tips divided into several erose to lacerate segments. Found west of the Deschutes River and upwards into the eastern foothills of the Cascades in north-central Oregon. Found in the eastern foothills of the Cascades in Klickitat & Yakima Counties of Washington.

Cusick's Elkweed, Cusick's Frasera: Frasera albicaulis var. cusickii (Synonyms: Frasera caerulea, Frasera coerulea, Swertia albicaulis var. cusickii, Swertia cusickii, Swertia nitida ssp. cusickii) - Stems glabrous, the leaves glabrous with fine hairs at the leaf base and sometimes along the lower midrib. Crown scales 2.5-4.5 mm long, ovate in outline with nearly entire margins. Found across central Oregon from the northern half of Lake, Harney and Malheur counties north to the Ochoco, Aldrich and Strawberry Mts. and northeast to the area around LaGrande, OR.

Idaho Frasera: Frasera albicaulis var. idahoensis (Synonyms: Swertia albicaulis var. idahoensis, Swertia idahoensis) - Stems glabrous. Corolla pale blue, usually not darker-mottled. Sheath of basal leaves usually less than 1.5 cm long, not bluish in color. Crown scales ovate in shape, 2-6 mm long, with the upper half of the margin divided into many narrow segments. Found in the Wallowa Mts. and Elkhorn Mts. of northeastern Oregon.

Modoc Frasera, Modoc Swertia: Frasera albicaulis var. modocensis (Synonyms: Frasera pahutensis, Swertia modocensis, Swertia bethelii, Swertia californica, Swertia modocensis, Swertia modocensis var. adglabra, Swertia nitida, Swertia pahutensis, Swertia shastensis, Swertia sierrae) - Stems and leaves uniformly covered with fine, minute hairs. Corolla pale blue. Scales of the corona entire to shallowy toothed. Found across the southern half of Klamath, Lake, Harney and Malheur counties of Oregon.

Whitestem Elkweed, Whitestem Frasera: Frasera albicaulis var. nitida (Synonyms: Frasera albicaulis ssp. nitida, Frawera nitida, Swertia albicaulis var. nitida, Swertia eastwoodiae, Swertia lassenica, Swertia nitida) -


A plant of dry plains, grasslands, and sage brush prairies from the lowlands well into the lower mountains.


White-stemmed Frasera is found from southern British Columbia south along the eastern edge of the Cascade Mts to California and Nevada, and eastward to Idaho and western Montana.

The photo above shows white-stemmed frasera (var. albicaulis) as seen on Zumwalt Prairie to the northeast of Enterprise, OR..........June 27, 2008.

Paul Slichter