[The Draba of the Columbia River Gorge of Oregon and Washington]

Spring Draba, Spring Whitlow-grass

Draba verna

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

Flowers and fruits of Spring Draba, Spring Whitlow-grass: Draba verna (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.

Characteristics:

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.


Habitat:

Spring whitlow-grass grows on dry open ground, often in grassy plains.


Range:

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.


Flowers and fruits of Spring Draba, Spring Whitlow-grass: Draba verna (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)

The photo above shows a close-up of the flower of spring whitlow grass as seen at about 1600' along the Dalles Mt. Rd in the Columbia River Gorge.........March 6, 2006. Note the deeply cleft petals and long hairs on the outer surface of the sepals.

Basal leaves of Spring Draba, Spring Whitlow-grass: Draba verna (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)

The photo above shows the basal cluster of leaves. Note the numerous branched hairs on the stems and both leaf surfaces. Photographed near the crest of the Columbia Hills in the Columbia River Gorge..........late April, 2005.

Flowers and fruits of Spring Draba, Spring Whitlow-grass: Draba verna (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)


Basal leaves of Spring Draba, Spring Whitlow-grass: Draba verna (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)

The photo above shows another close-up of the basal leaves of spring whitlow grass as seen at about 1600' along the Dalles Mt. Rd in the Columbia River Gorge.........March 6, 2006. Note the forked hairs on the upper leaf surface.

Spring Draba, Spring Whitlow-grass: Draba verna (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 on steep slopes along the Eagle Creek Trail, Columbia River Gorge..........March 26, 2012.

Spring Draba, Spring Whitlow-grass: Draba verna (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) - Basal leaves of scale pod (Idahoa scapigera) and spring whitlow-grass (Draba verna)

Spring whitlow-grass blooming (left) alongside the basal leaves of filaree (Erodium cicutarium) in an area burned by wildfire during the summer of 2014 on Sevenmile Hill outside The Dalles, Oregon..........February 15, 2016. The photo at right shows the basal leaves of scale pod (Idahoa scapigera) and spring whitlow-grass as seen south of Old Highway 30 about one-half mile west of Marsh Cutoff Road, Columbia River Gorge............. February 7, 2016 .

Spring Draba, Spring Whitlow-grass: Draba verna (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)

The photo above shows the simple stem with a few branches within the inflorescence. Note the hairs on the lower stem.................March 6, 2006.

Spring Draba, Spring Whitlow-grass: Draba verna (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 Draba, Spring Whitlow-grass: Draba verna (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)

A mass of spring whitlow-grass in bloom along the old road adjacent to the vernal waterfall above the Crawford Oaks trailhead, Columbia Hills State Park.........February 23, 2016.

Spring Draba, Spring Whitlow-grass: Draba verna (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)

A mass of spring whitlow-grass in bloom along the old road adjacent to the vernal waterfall above the Crawford Oaks trailhead, Columbia Hills State Park.........February 18, 2015.

Massed bloom of Spring Draba, Spring Whitlow-grass: Draba verna (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)

Massed bloom of spring whitlow-grass as seen on the western rim of Chenoweth Table at the western outskirts of The Dalles, Oregon...........March 9, 2013.

Paul Slichter