[Cryptanths or White Forget-me-nots: The Genera Cryptantha and Oreocarya in the Columbia River Gorge of Oregon and Washington]

Clearwater Cryptantha, Clearwater Cat's Eye, Common Cryptantha, Large-flowered Cryptantha

Cryptantha intermedia var. intermedia

Synonyms: Cryptantha barbigera var. fergusoniae, Cryptantha fragilis,Cryptantha hendersonii, Cryptantha intermedia var. intermedia

Flowers of Clearwater Cryptantha, Clearwater Cat's Eye, Common Cryptantha, Large-flowered Cryptantha: Cryptantha intermedia (Synonyms: Cryptantha barbigera var. fergusoniae, Cryptantha fragilis, Cryptantha grandiflora, Cryptantha hendersonii, Cryptantha intermedia var. grandiflora, Cryptantha intermedia var. intermedia)

Common cryptantha as seen at Catherine Creek, Columbia River Gorge...........May 14, 2006.


Characteristics:

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.


Inflroescence of Clearwater Cryptantha, Clearwater Cat's Eye, Common Cryptantha, Large-flowered Cryptantha: Cryptantha intermedia (Synonyms: Cryptantha barbigera var. fergusoniae, Cryptantha fragilis, Cryptantha grandiflora, Cryptantha hendersonii, Cryptantha intermedia var. grandiflora, Cryptantha intermedia var. intermedia)

Note the numerous spreading, stiff hairs on the stem and calyx.

Habitat:

Common cryptantha may be found on dry, open slopes at low to medium elevations.


Range:

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.


Stem leaf of Clearwater Cryptantha, Clearwater Cat's Eye, Common Cryptantha, Large-flowered Cryptantha: Cryptantha intermedia (Synonyms: Cryptantha barbigera var. fergusoniae, Cryptantha fragilis, Cryptantha grandiflora, Cryptantha hendersonii, Cryptantha intermedia var. grandiflora, Cryptantha intermedia var. intermedia)

The photo above shows a close-up view of a stem leaf and the numerous stiff hairs that cover both the leaves and the stem. Photographed at Catherine Creek.........May 14, 2006.

Inflorescence and upper stem leaves of Clearwater Cryptantha, Clearwater Cat's Eye, Common Cryptantha, Large-flowered Cryptantha: Cryptantha intermedia (Synonyms: Cryptantha barbigera var. fergusoniae, Cryptantha fragilis, Cryptantha grandiflora, Cryptantha hendersonii, Cryptantha intermedia var. grandiflora, Cryptantha intermedia var. intermedia)

The photo above shows a view of the form of common cryptantha as seen from Catherine Creek..........May 14, 2006.

Common Cryptantha: Cryptantha intermedia

The photo above shows a view of the form of common cryptantha as seen from Canyon Creek in the Klickitat State Wildlife Area..........April 12, 2009. Note the lack of a basal rosette of leaves at flowering time (a characteristic of the similar popcorn flowers, genus Plagiobothrys).

Clearwater Cryptantha, Clearwater Cat's Eye, Common Cryptantha, Large-flowered Cryptantha: Cryptantha intermedia (Synonyms: Cryptantha barbigera var. fergusoniae, Cryptantha fragilis, Cryptantha grandiflora, Cryptantha hendersonii, Cryptantha intermedia var. grandiflora, Cryptantha intermedia var. intermedia)

Common cryptantha blooming on dry slopes between Little Bowman and Canyon Creeks in the Klickitat Wildlife Area.........May 17, 2017.

Inflorescence of Clearwater Cryptantha, Clearwater Cat's Eye, Common Cryptantha, Large-flowered Cryptantha: Cryptantha intermedia (Synonyms: Cryptantha barbigera var. fergusoniae, Cryptantha fragilis, Cryptantha grandiflora, Cryptantha hendersonii, Cryptantha intermedia var. grandiflora, Cryptantha intermedia var. intermedia)

Close-up of the inflorescence of common cryptantha as seen along the Cherry Orchard Trail (on the upper switchbacks above the Washington Highway 14 trailhead) east of Lyle, WA............April 2, 2014.

Paul Slichter