The photo above shows a close-up of the flower of elephant's head as seen from wet meadows along Butcher Bill Creek about one mile west of Penland Lake in the Umatilla National Forest........June 22, 2007. The resemblance to an elephant's head and trunk can easily be noticed here.
The photo at right shows a close-up of the flowers of elephant's head as seen from wet meadows along Butcher Bill Creek about one mile west of Penland Lake in the Umatilla National Forest........June 22, 2007.
Elephant's head is an interesting and beautiful perennial wildflower. It ranges in height from 15 to 70 cm tall. Multiple stems arise from the basal leaves, which are compound pinnate in structure. The blade of each leaf is roughly equal or greater in length than the petiole, with the entire leaf ranging in length from 5 to 25 cm long. The blades range from 5 to 40 mm wide. The individual leaflets or pinnae are narrow and sharply toothed. The few leaves found on the stems are much reduced in size, but similar in outline to the basal leaves, but with much shorter petioles.
The inflorescence is elongate, with interesting pink flowers densely packed at the upper fourth of the stem. The five sepals are united into a narrow cup, with five unequal lobes. The pink to almost red corolla consists of unequally sized and shaped petals, with the lower lip smaller than the upper. The galea is hooded and tipped with a long, slender and upturned beak or spur, reminiscent of an elephant's trunk. Individual flowers are about 13 mm in length.
Elephant's head grows in moist meadows and occasionally in small cold streams from moderate to high elevation in the mountains.
Elephant's heads are a widespread species which may be found in mountainous areas from British Columbia south through Washington and Oregon to California, and eastward through Alberta to Labrador, and south from Alberta through the Rockies to New Mexico.