Walking along Modoc National Forest Road 40N11 near Adin CA (Modoc County), Leonard and I found an interesting little wildflower, milk kelloggia (Kelloggia galiodes). A native perennial, milk kelloggia is a member of the Madder Family found on dry benches and slopes from 3,000 to 9,600 feet in elevation throughout Western United States.
Milk kelloggia has a few slender stems arising from underground rhizomes. The plant is glabrous (smooth) or very slightly hairy. The stems can be simple or branched. The leaves are opposite and narrowly lanceolate.
The pink to white flowers of milk kelloggia are in loose, forking, terminal cymes (flower cluster where inner flowers open first). Usually there are four pointed petals, however, five petals are not uncommon. (Notice the photographs show examples of flowers with four and five petals.) The petals are fused into a funnelform shape. Milk kelloggia stamens are exserted (extend above the petals) and the inferior ovary is two-celled.
Milk kelloggia fruits resemble green balls covered in hooked bristles. The fruits break into two segments at maturity to release the seeds.
Milk kelloggia is the only species in the genus, Kelloggia, named after Albert Kellogg (1813 – 1887). Dr. Kellogg was a pioneer botanist and with six others founded the California Academy of Sciences. The species name, galiodes, refers to milk kelloggia’s resemblance to plants in the genus Galium. From the Greek “galia” meaning “milk”, some members of Galium were used to curdle milk.