A member of the Gentian Family, whitestem frasera (Frasera albicaulis) is a perennial, native wildflower found in Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Idaho and Montana. Its habitat is the open plains and mountains between 4,000 and 6,000 feet in elevation.
John Fraser (1750 – 1811), a London nurseryman and collector of North American plants, is honored by the genus name, Frasera. The common name, whitestem, is also reflected in the species name albicaulis: in Latin alba means white and caulis means stem.
Whitestem frasera grows from a woody root-crown. There are one or several erect, pubescent (covered with short hairs) stems surrounded by a basal rosette of long, linear leaves which have a very thin white margin. The cauline (stem) leaves are opposite and narrow. Basal leaves have a petiole (stalk) while the cauline leaves are sessile (no stalk).
The inflorescence is a dense terminal panicle (cluster of flowers), which may be interrupted. Each of whitestem frasera’s four greenish-white to bluish petals is pointed and has a single, greenish, linear gland fringed around the margin. There are four sepals, four stamens and a central ovary.
Whitestem frasera fruits are flattened, ellipsoidal, beaked capsules containing flat brown seeds.
These whitestem frasera were photographed along Lassen County Road 527 (Ash Valley Road) in California.