Little elephantshead as seen in moist grasslands along the road between the East Rim Viewpoint and the Steens Mountain summit, Steens Mountain Recreation Lands...............September 1, 2011.
Little elephant's head is an attractive perennial wildflower with clusters of 2-3 erect, glabrous stems from 10-35 cm high. The leaves are mostly basal, ranging from 4-12 cm long with fairly long petioles and pinnatifid into 12-20 pair of narrow, linear-shaped segments with entire to toothed margins. The stem leaves are much reduced in size with either short petioles or the leaves sessile.
The inflorescence is a spike-like raceme of flowers, the inflorescence ranging from 2-10 cm long. The inflorescence is densely covered with hairs. The villous calyx is 3.5-5.5 mm long, the 5 lobes ranging from 1-1.5 mm long and lanceolate in shape. The corolla is 6-7 mm long with the appearance of an elephant's head. The two upper corolla lobes are fused to from a hood which bends sharply downward upon exiting the calyx and then narrowing into a long "proboscis"-like beak which curves upwards and is roughly 4-5 mm long. The lower lip of the corolla is 4-6 mm long and divided into 3 lobes, the lateral two lobes much larger and rounded, giving the appearance of elephant ears. The flowers range from pink to reddish purple or occasionally white. The stamens are enclosed in the upper lip.
Little elephant's head may be found in moist subalpine and alpine meadows and on grassy streambanks.
Little elephant's head may be found from the central Cascade Mts. of Oregon south through the Sierra Nevada Mts. to the San Bernadino and White Mts. of California. It may be found eastward at the Steens Mt. of southeastern Oregon.