Northern Sun Cup

Northern Sun Cup

Northern Sun Cup

A pretty little spring flower!! There is not much more to say about the northern sun cup (Camissonia subacaulis).

A native perennial, the northern sun cup is a prostrate, low-lying plant, often hidden amid the grasses and other flora of wet meadows that dry in the summer, boggy areas and woods with wet, clay-like soils. A member of the evening primrose family, this “shy” plant occurs in the Rockies westward, but is not found in Arizona or New Mexico.

The lance-shaped northern sun cup leaves form a rosette that arises from a long tap root. The leaves have a long winged petiole that is below or partially below the soil. The bright yellow flower consists of four separated sepals and four petals. The style (part of the female reproductive organ) is topped by a rounded knob. This feature is important in identification. Northern sun cup seed capsules are formed underground.

Diffuseflower evening primrose, stemless evening primrose, long leaf evening primrose and long leaved sun cup are a few of the other colloquial names for northern sun cup. The names for this small flower are larger than the flower itself.

Another scientific name for northern sun cup found in the literature is Oenothera subacaulis. The species name, subacaulis, means “without stem” and refers to the stemless flower.

This northern sun cup was tucked among the meadow grasses near the Lower Campground at Ash Creek (Lassen County CA). Note the extensive insect damage to the leaves.

 

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