The photo above shows a close-up of the inflorescence of Columbia kittentails as photographed about one mile west of Multnomah Falls in the western Columbia River Gorge.........March 5, 2006. Columbia kittentails is one of the first wildflowers to bloom in the western Gorge.
Synthyris missurica is a perennial wildflower about 10 to 60 cm tall. The leaves are mostly basal, although several small, reduced leaves may be found below the infloresence. The basal leaves are long petiolate with cordate bases, and either somewhat round in shape to somewhat kidney-shaped. The leaf blades are palmately veined and about 2.5 to 8 cm long and about as wide. The leaf margins are shallowly to deeply toothed, with individual teeth often posessing even smaller teeth. In subspecies stellata, the margins are more sharply toothed than other forms of the species.
The infloresence is elongate, with individual flowers having four sepals and four unequal corolla lobes. The individual petals are from 4 to 7 mm in length. The stem is often somewhat villous within the infloresence. The seed capsules are about 5 to 7 mm high and perhaps slightly wider. They are shallowly notched. See the photo at right. For subspecies stellata, another difference from the other forms of the species includes more fully developed bracts beneath the inflorescence.
Mountain kittentails is found on moist open or shaded slopes from the foothills to well into the mountains.
Synthyris missurica is found from the Blue and Wallowa Mountains of southeastern Washington and northeastern Oregon, south through Lake County, Oregon into Modoc County, California, and north western and northern Idaho.
Subspecies stellata is found in the Columbia River Gorge, both on the Oregon and Washington sides of the river, from approximately Crown Point in the west to The Dalles on the east, and from 100 to 3500 feet in elevation.
Developing fruits of Columbia kittentails as seen on steep north-facing slopes in the Columbia Hills Natural Area Preserve to the north of The Dalles, OR.........May 15, 2009.