Mountain Pretty Face

I love the common name for Triteleia ixioides, mountain pretty face.  Yellow brodiaea and golden brodiaea are other colloquial names for this native perennial, but neither name has the charm of pretty face. There are about five subspecies of pretty faces or T. ixiodes. I believe these specimens are mountain pretty face – Triteleia ixioides ssp analina.

Mountain pretty face is a geophyte, that is, a plant that stores food in underground storage organs. A corm (thickened underground piece of stem tissue) is the storage organ of mountain pretty face.

Found in sandy or gravelly soils in the mountain meadows and shady forests of California and Oregon, mountain pretty face grows between 2,000 and 10,000 feet in elevation.

Mountain pretty face has one or two grass-like, basal leaves and an erect, bare stem. The inflorescence is a terminal umbel (flowers with pedicels or stalks, all of which originate from the same point). The mountain pretty face pedicel is long. At the base of the umbel are scarious (dry, thin) bracts.

Each flower is composed of six tepals (structures that are not definitely sepals or petals) fused into a tube. The tepals may be open flat or slightly recurved. The yellow tepals each have a lengthwise purple or brownish stripe. The stamens are attached in the center of a forked, ribbon-like filament and have bluish anthers.

Mountain pretty face fruits are capsules containing black seeds.

Native Americans ate mountain pretty face corms.

The genus name, Triteleia, comes from the Greek “tri” (three) and “teleios” (perfect) and refers to the fact that mountain pretty face plant parts occur in threes. Ixioides, the species name, means “ixia-like”.  Apparently someone thought mountain pretty face resembled plants in the genus Ixia, which is in the Iris Family.

These mountain pretty face plants were growing along Brandy Creek Trail in Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, Shasta County CA.


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1 Response to Mountain Pretty Face

  1. tonytomeo says:

    Bella faccia di montagne?
    That just came to mind because my Pa, as well as so many parents of Italian descent, address their children as ‘faccia-brutte’. Most of us do not know what it means, and care even less. (If it bothers us, we can blame the same parents who use the terminology.) Anyway, I started calling my niece that, but instead changed it to ‘faccia bella’, which is both more accurate, as well as easier to pronounce.


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