Common cryptantha as seen at Catherine Creek, Columbia River Gorge...........May 14, 2006.
Common cryptantha is an annual wildflower with simple to branched stems from 5-50 cm high. The herbage consists of rough, spreading to appressed hairs on the stems, leaves and calyx. A rosette of basal leaves is lacking, although a pair of basal leaves may be seen. Often these wither by the time flowers develop. The leaves alternate along the stem and are line, linear oblanceolate, or narrowly oblong in shape. They measure up to 3-5 cm long and become reduced in size upwards on the stem.
The spikes are found at the end of the stem or side-branches. They are tightly coiled at first but elongate to 5-10 cm long. The calyx lobes are densely covered with long, stiff, spreading hairs as seen in the photos and measures 4-7 mm long in fruit. The corolla is fairly large and showy with the tube 3-4 mm long and the limb 5-6 mm wide. The corolla begins entirely white and then develops a yellow ring around the throat after pollination. The 1-2 nutlets are about 2.5 mm long and broadly ovoid in shape with a smooth, shining surface and narrow ventral groove that is forked at the base.
Common cryptantha may be found on dry, open slopes at low to medium elevations.
Common cryptantha may be found on both sides of the Cascade Mts. from southern British Columbia south to California and east across Washington and Oregon to western Idaho.
In the Columbia River Gorge, it may be found between the elevations of 100'-3800' from adjacent to Crown Point eastward to the Columbia Hills.