Synonyms: Draba verna var. aestivalis, Draba verna var. boerhaavii, Draba verna var. major, Draba verna var. verna, Erophila verna ssp. spathulata, Erophila verna var. praecox, Erophila verna var. verna
Spring whitlow-grass as seen near the crest of the Columbia Hills in the Columbia River Gorge.............late April, 2005. Note the broad silicle emerging from the flower at right. Note also the deeply bi-lobed petals, a characteristic of this species.
Spring whitlow-grass is a small annual that is easy to overlook because of its diminutive size, yet it is often one of the most abundant flowering plants underfoot in the west. The leaves are basal, in a rosette, and are often covered with stiff, branched hairs. The leaf shape ranges from spatulate to oblanceolate, with entire to toothed leaf margins. The leaves range from 10-25 mm long. The one to several stems range from 5-20 cm tall, and are leafless. The lower stem, basal leaves and sepals are covered with simple to three-forked hairs (See photos.).
The inflorescence is a loose raceme with 3-20 flowers. The 4 white petals are cleft or split so the flowers look like they have 8 petals. The petals are about 2.5 mm long. The flowers and later the seed capsules alternate along the stem. The seed capsules of variety boerhaavii are elliptic-obovate to obovate silicles, which average 4-5 mm long and 3.5 mm wide.
Spring whitlow-grass grows on dry open ground, often in grassy plains.
Spring whitlow-grass is found throughout much of North America.
In the Columbia River Gorge, spring whitlow-grass may be found from 100'-3000' from the western mouth of the gorge and hence east past Biggs, OR.