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Pinkfairies, Ragged Robin, Deerhorn Clarkia, Beautiful Clarkia - Clarkia pulchella


Family: Onagraceae - Evening Primrose family Genus Common Name: Clarkia Native Status: Native
Clarkia pulchella - Pinkfairies, Ragged Robin, Deerhorn Clarkia, Beautiful Clarkia. The Clarkia genus contains 41 species. While most of the species are found only in California, Clarkia pulchella was found by Meriweather Lewis in what is now Idaho in 1806, and was first described by William Clark in May of that year. It was the first species described in the genus, which was later named for William Clark. It is found in 6 northwestern states and has disjunct populations in 4 eastern states. While the USDA Plants Database shows Pinkfairies as native to these eastern states (OH, MA, CT, VT), these are likely instead a result of plants brought back from the west, since it would have been known prior to 1806 if it was native to those eastern states.

My initial identification of this species was using the excellent book Idaho Mountain Wildflowers by Scott Earle.

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Clarkia pulchella

Distribution of Clarkia pulchella in the United States and Canada:
USDA Plants Distribution Map temporarily unavailable.
Blue=Native; Grey=Introduced

Map from USDA Plants Database:
USDA, NRCS. 2017. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 30 Apr 2017). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

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Site: Valley County, Idaho Date: 2010-June-17Photographer: Gerald C. Williamson
Pinkfairies, also known as Ragged Robin, is quickly identified by the distinct dark pink petals, each of which has 3 lobes. In C. pulchella the center lobe is twice as wide as the outer lobes, while in the similar species Clarkia concinna the three lobes of the petals are of equal width. (C. concinna is found only in California.)
Clarkia pulchella

Site: Valley County, Idaho Date: 2010-June-17Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D60
1/320f/14 100
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
90mm (135 equiv)
A distinct feature of Clarkia pulchella is the pistil, which looks like a small white, multi-petaled flower unto itself in the center of the blossom. The white pistil is accompanied by 4 purple-pink stamens. There are also 4 shorter cream white stamens which you can see in the background in this photo. A very unique flower structure.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Clarkia pulchella

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All content except USDA Plants Database map Copyright Gerald C. Williamson 2017
Photographs Copyright owned by the named photographer