The Carr Fire in Northern California has already consumed over 200,000 acres and is still not contained. Unfortunately Whiskeytown National Recreation Area was almost completely burned. It will be years before this beautiful national treasure is restored. Thankfully Leonard and I made two trips to Whiskeytown in May and were able to enjoy the hiking trails before the wildfire. These showy rock montia (Montia parvafolia) specimens were growing along the Brandy Creek Trail during one of those visits.
A member of the Purselane Family, showy rock montia has many other common names including littleleaf montia, streambank spring beauty, small-leaved blinks and littleleaf miner’s lettuce. These common names are confusing because there are other plants called spring beauty and miner’s lettuce.
Growing from rhizomes and stolons, showy rock montia sometimes forms large patches with runners connecting the plants. Single flower stems arise from the rhizome nodes and grow to one and half feet in height.
Showy rock montia has a small basal rosette of small, fleshy, spoon-shaped leaves with petioles. The cauline (stem) leaves are alternate and reduced in size. Fleshy bulblets sometimes replace the stem leaves. The leaves are sometimes reddish.
The pink or white showy rock montia flowers occur in a loose cluster atop the stem. The five petals are veined in light pink and notched at the end. The flowers have two persistent sepals. Five stamens adhere, one each, to the petal bases. The style is three-branched.
Showy rock montia fruits are egg-shaped capsules that open into three segments to release black, lustrous seeds.
This perennial native is found in Alaska, California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, Alberta, Idaho and Montana. Showy rock montia’s habitat is streambanks and wet, rocky areas below about 8,500 feet.
Montia, the genus name, honors Giuseppe Monti (1682 – 1760), an Italian botanist. The species designation means “small flowered” from the Greek “parva” (small) and “flora” (flower).