Roundtooth Ookow

Roundtooth ookow (Dichelostemma multiflorum) is a member of the Asparagus Family. The etymology of ookow is obscure, but is likely Native American in origin. Other common names for D multiflorum are wild hyacinth, roundtooth snakelily and manyflower brodiaea.

A native perennial, roundtooth ookow is found in Oregon and California below 6,000 feet. Its habitat is grassland, scrubland and other open spaces with clay or heavy soils.

The plant arises from a corm. There are 2 to 5 flat, shiny, linear leaves (often as long as the stem) that usually wither before flowering. The inflorescence is a spherical umbel (pedicelled flowers arising from a single point) of up to 35 flowers atop an erect, leafless stalk (scape). There are papery bracts streaked with purple at the base of the umbel.

Roundtooth ookow flowers are blue-pink to purple pink. The 6 petals are fused into an elongated tube (perianth tube) with a strong constriction above the superior ovary. The three fertile stamens are hidden by three sterile, non-pollen-bearing staminoids that form a “crown” around the anthers. These three toothlike projections are white or pale purple with the edges rolled inward with rounded tips.

The fruit is ovoid with a persistent perianth and contains sharply-angled, black-crusted seeds.

Another ookow (forked-toothed ookow, D congesta) looks very similar to roundtooth ookow and is identified in the field by forked staminoid projections rather than the rounded projections of D multiflorum.

A synonym for D multiflorum is Brodiaea multiflorum. The genus designation is from the Greek “dicha” meaning “cut into two parts” and “stemma”, a garland or crown. This refers to the forked appendages of the staminoids in some members of the genus. The species name means “many flowered” in Latin.

South Fork Trail in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park (California) was where these specimens were photographed.



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1 Response to Roundtooth Ookow

  1. Holly G. says:

    How interesting! I was completely unfamiliar with these but you have caused me to be interested. Sounds like it was a beautiful walk along that trail 🙂 Thank you for sharing!

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