Synthyris wyomingensis (Kittentails) - photos and description










Basal leaf in above photo

Stem leaf in above photo

Basal leaves have emerged and inflorescence has elongated when flowering is complete

General: Low perennial plants with grey-coloured foliage covered with silky hairs. Flower spikes emerge before basal leaves. Very early flowering, as early as mid-April.

Flowers: Flowers are in a dense spike, violet in colour with gold anthers. Flower spikes measured to 3 cm long, elongating when in fruit. Flowers have no petals. 

Leaves: Basal leaves ovate to deltoid, blade measured at 6 cm long and 5.5 cm wide. Stem leaves much reduced in size, alternate, without stalks, elliptical to rhomboid in shape. Basal leaves have toothed margins, stem leaves entire.

Height: Budd's Flora lists the height to 30 cm, we measured plants to 13 cm tall.

Habitat: Habitat is rocky slopes and fescue prairie in the Cypress Hills. We've found them usually growing on east-facing slopes.

Abundance: Extremely rare, this plant is listed as an S1 (as of 2021) by the Saskatchewan Conservation Data Centre.

Origin: Native.

Synonym: Listed in some of the field guides we use as Besseya wyomingensis.

When and where photographed: Photos taken April 16th and May 23rd on fescue prairie hillside ~ 3900 ft elevation, and May 23rd, rocky hillside ~ 4200 ft elevation, Cypress Hills, 450 km southwest of our home in Regina, SK.