Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Western Wetland Flora
Field Office Guide to Plant Species
Great Basin Downingia
Downingia laeta (Greene) Greene
- Family: Bellflower (Campanulaceae)
- Flowering: May-August
- Field Marks: This Downingia is readily distinguished by its smaller flowers up to 1/3 inch across, with the petals white or pale blue or pink and the lower lip petal with yellow blotches dotted with purple.
- Habitat: Vernal pools, edge of ponds and lakes, in roadside ditches.
- Habit: Annual herb with fibrous roots.
- Stems: Upright to ascending or even spreading, unbranched, hollow, up to 8 inches tall, smooth.
- Leaves: Alternate, simple, narrowly lanceolate, up to 1 inch long, up to 1/6 inch wide, pointed or sometimes more or less rounded at the tip, tapering to the base, smooth, without teeth, the lowest leaves withering early, the uppermost reduced t
- Flowers: Borne singly in the axils of the uppermost reduced leaves (bracts), the bracts green, narrowly lanceolate, up to 3/4 inch long; flowers sessile, but appearing to be stalked because of the very slender floral tube.
- Sepals: 5, green, united below to form a slender floral tube, the lobes up to 1/3 inch long, narrowly lanceolate, smooth.
- Petals: 5, united to form 2 lips, up to 1/3 inch long, white to pale blue or pink, the lower lip with 2 yellow blotches dotted with purple.
- Stamens: 5, not attached to the petals, with the filaments and anthers united, the anthers bearing untwisted bristles.
- Pistils: Ovary inferior, borne at the base of the slender floral tube.
- Fruits: Capsules linear, terete, up to 2 inches long, usually smooth; seeds pale brown.
- Notes: As the vernal pools dry up, this species may spread rapidly and form dense colorful patches.
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