[The Genus Hydrophyllum in the Columbia River Gorge of Oregon and Washington]

Ball-head Waterleaf, Grandma's Pincushion, Thompson's Waterleaf, Wool Breeches

Hydrophyllum capitatum var. thompsonii

Ball-head Waterleaf, Grandma's Pincushion, Thompson's Waterleaf, Wool Breeches: Hydrophyllum capitatum var. thompsonii

The photo above shows the tightly clustered flowers of ball-head waterleaf as well as their attractive leaves as seen along the Memaloose Trail east of Mosier, Oregon...........March 27, 2015. Note that the flower head extends well above the leaves, a characteristic of this species.

Inflorescence of Ball-head Waterleaf, Grandma's Pincushion, Thompson's Waterleaf: Hydrophyllum capitatum var. thompsoniiThe p hoto at right shows a close-up of the capitate inflorescence of Hydrophyllum capitatum var. thompsonii as seen from above 1500' along the Dalles Mt. Road in the Columbia Hills of the central Columbia River Gorge..........April 9, 2006. Note that the stigma with its split style as well as the black-tipped stamens extend well beyond the corolla. Note also how hairy the calyx of each flower is.
Characteristics:

Ball-head waterleaf as seen in the Columbia River Gorge is an upright wildflower from 10-40 cm high which with one to sevral stems arising from a deep but short rhizome with fleshy, fibrous roots. The leaves are few, large, and long petioled, some of whicharise from the stem below the ground. The leaf blade is pinnatifid into 7-11 sessile leaflets or lobes with the blade up to 10 cm wide and 15 cm long. The leaflets range from pointed to more frequently rounded or obtuse.

The inflorescence of variety thompsonii extends well above the leaves (the inflorescence of the other species are typically found below the upper leaves). It is ball-like with numerous white, lavender, or purplish blue flowers from 5-9 mm long. The stamens extend well past the throat of the corolla.


Varieties:

var. thompsonii: The inflorescence is well above the leaves on a flower stem from 5-20 cm long. Found from southern Yakima County, Washington to the Columbia River Gorge where it may be found on both sides of the Columbia River.

var. capitatum: The inflorescence is below the leaves with the stem of the inflorescence less than 5cm long. Found from southern British Columbia south along the eastern slopes of the Cascades of Washington to northeastern Oregon, and east to southwestern Alberta, Utah, and Colorado.

var. alpinum: The inflorescence is found just above ground level, with the stem being almost entirely below ground. Found east of the Cascades from northern Oregon (excluding northeastern Oregon) south to California, Nevada, southwestern Idaho, and western Utah.


Habitat:

Ball-head waterleaf may be found on open to lightly wooded slopes at all elevations from the valleys and foothills to well up in the mountains.


Range:

Ball-head waterleaf may be found from southern British Columbia south along the eastern edge of the Cascade Mts. to central Californa and east to Alberta and Colorado.

In the Columbia River Gorge, it may be found from about Dog Mt. east to Biggs, Or between the elevations of 100'-3700'.


Ball-head Waterleaf, Grandma's Pincushion, Thompson's Waterleaf: Hydrophyllum capitatum var. thompsonii

The photo above shows the tightly clustered flowers of ball-head waterleaf as well as their attractive leaves as seen along the Dalles Mt. Road in the Columbia River Gorge............April 9, 2006. Note that the flower head extends well above the leaves, a characteristic of this species.

Leaf of Ball-head Waterleaf, Grandma's Pincushion, Thompson's Waterleaf: Hydrophyllum capitatum var. thompsonii

The photo above shows a basal leaf of ballhead waterleaf (var. thompsonii) as seen in talus at the base of cliffs at the east end of the 3 Bench Loop above Doug's Beach, WA State Road #14, MP 79..........March 11, 2006.

Ball-head Waterleaf, Grandma's Pincushion, Thompson's Waterleaf: Hydrophyllum capitatum var. thompsonii

Ballhead waterleaf (var. thompsonii) as seen in Canyon Creek in the Klickitat State Wildlife Recreation Area.........April 23, 2009.

Ball-head Waterleaf, Grandma's Pincushion, Thompson's Waterleaf: Hydrophyllum capitatum var. thompsonii

Ballhead waterleaf as seen beneath Oregon white oaks at Catherine Creek in the Columbia River Gorge........April 9, 2009. The leaves of Sanicula crassicaulis, Sanicula graveolens and Viola sheltonii can be seen respectively from left to right at the bottom of the photo.

Basal leaf of Ball-head Waterleaf, Grandma's Pincushion, Thompson's Waterleaf: Hydrophyllum capitatum var. thompsonii - Basal leaf of Ball-head Waterleaf, Grandma's Pincushion, Thompson's Waterleaf, Wool Breeches: Hydrophyllum capitatum var. thompsonii

A leaf of ballhead waterleaf as seen(left) along the Eagle Creek Trail, Columbia River Gorge.........March 26, 2012. The photo at right shows a newly arisen leaf of ballhead waterleaf from a spring under oaks at Catherine Creek, Columbia River Gorge.........January 31, 2016.

Ball-head Waterleaf, Grandma's Pincushion, Thompson's Waterleaf, Wool Breeches: Hydrophyllum capitatum var. thompsonii

Ballhead waterleaf blooming about one-half mile west of the Dog Mountain summit, Columbia River Gorge.........May 7, 2014.

Ball-head Waterleaf, Grandma's Pincushion, Thompson's Waterleaf: Hydrophyllum capitatum var. thompsonii - Ball-head Waterleaf, Grandma's Pincushion, Thompson's Waterleaf, Wool Breeches: Hydrophyllum capitatum var. thompsonii

Ballhead waterleaf blooming (left) under Oregon white oaks along the Cherry Orchard Trail about one-half mile above the trailhead along Washington Highway 14 (east of the Lyle tunnels)..........April 2, 2014. The photo at right shows ballhead waterleaf in bloom under oaks just above the Lyle Cherry Orchard trailhead..........March 11, 2016.

Ball-head Waterleaf, Grandma's Pincushion, Thompson's Waterleaf, Wool Breeches: Hydrophyllum capitatum var. thompsonii

The leaves of ballhead waterleaf usually push out of the ground several weeks before plants show signs of blooming. Photographed along the Memaloose Trail, Columbia River Gorge..........February 11, 2015.

Ball-head Waterleaf, Grandma's Pincushion, Thompson's Waterleaf, Wool Breeches: Hydrophyllum capitatum var. thompsonii - Ball-head Waterleaf, Grandma's Pincushion, Thompson's Waterleaf, Wool Breeches: Hydrophyllum capitatum var. thompsonii

An early blooming ballhead waterleaf (left) as seen under oaks at the Lyle-Cherry Orchard trailhead just east of the easternmost tunnel on SR14 east of Lyle, WA..........March 3, 2015. The photo at right shows a ballhead waterleaf seedling arising from ground burnt by the 2014 fire that swept over the southeastern slopes of Sevenmile HIll several miles northwest of The Dalles, Oregon...........March 30, 2015.

Ball-head Waterleaf, Grandma's Pincushion, Thompson's Waterleaf, Wool Breeches: Hydrophyllum capitatum var. thompsonii

Ballhead waterleaf as seen along Wygant Trail near Perham Creek to the west of Mitchell Point, Columbia River Gorge..........March 29, 2015.

Paul Slichter