Cascade Downingia

Cascade downingia (Downingia yina) is also colloquially known as Williamette downingia and Cascade calicoflower. I always think of downingias as vernal pool flowers, although they can be found in other wet habitats such as lake and pond shores, bogs and fens in California, Washington and Oregon at elevations below 5,400 feet.

A native annual, Cascade downingia has one or more diffusely branched stems which grow erect or decumbent to a height of 1 to 4 inches. Cascade downingia grows single or in masses.

The glabrous (no hairs) leaves of Cascade downingia are small, sessile (no stalks) and linear to lance-shaped with pointed tips.

The pretty blue Cascade downingia flowers have five petals, fused into a long tube terminating in two distinct lips. The lower lip is three-lobed. Each rounded lobe has a small tooth (point) at the tip. The lower lobe has a yellow spot surrounded by white, two ridges and a band of purple near the corolla opening. The upper lip has two lobes. Five bracts surround the flower. The stamen extends only to approximately the mouth of the corolla tube.

Cascade downingia fruits are thin-walled capsules.

Downingia, the genus name, honors the American landscape gardener and horticulturist, Andrew Jackson Downing (1815 – 1852). The species name, yina, is a Klamath word for mountain.

In June I photographed these Cascade downingia specimens off of Road 40N03 near Egg Lake (Modoc County CA).


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