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Tailed Kittentails, Mountain Kittentails, Mountain Kittentoes - Synthyris missurica


Family: Plantaginaceae – Plantain family Genus Common Name: Kittentails Native Status: Native
Synthyris missurica - Tailed Kittentails, Mountain Kittentails, Mountain Kittentoes. Synthyris species are found only in eight northwestern states, in Alaska, and in northwestern Canada. There are three subspecies of Synthyris missurica - ssp. hirsuta, found only in Oregon, ssp. stellata, found in Oregon and Washington, and the one presented here, ssp. missurica, found in those two states as well as northern California, Idaho, and Montana. It should be noted that ITIS lists a major subspecies, and does not accept the hirsuta subspecies. In the southern end of its range Synthyris missurica is found only in higher elevations. It is an early blooming plant, shortly following snow melt, or even while some snow is still on the ground.

Synthyris missurica is one of many species that have been moved out of the Scrophulariaceae family (figworts.) It has been moved to family Plantaginaceae (Plantains,) one of several families receiving species from the disintegrating Figwort family.

Found in:
CA, ID, MT, OR, WA

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

Map from USDA Plants Database:
USDA, NRCS. 2009. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 17 Sep 2014). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.

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Site: Date: 2011-June-17Photographer: Gerald C. Williamson
Nikon D7000
Tamron AP AF 90MM Macro
The flowers of Tailed Kittentails are a lovely mid- to deep blue. The two large stamens and the pistil stick out past the four petals (they are “exserted,) giving a fuzzy appearance to the raceme.
Synthyris missurica

Site: Boise Foothills, Ada County, ID Date: 2011-June-17Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
Tamron AP AF 90MM Macro
The fuzzy-looking dense raceme of blue flowers is reported to be the origin of the “kittentails” common name. While most of the leaves are basal, there are usually a few small leafy bracts on the scape, which is usually less than 10 inches tall, including the inflorescence.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Synthyris missurica

Site: Boise Foothills, Ada County, ID Date: 2011-June-17Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
The leaves are a basal cluster of nearly round, leathery petioled leaves that have scalloped edges.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Synthyris missurica

Site: Boise Foothills, Ada County, ID Date: 2011-June-17Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
Tamron AP AF 90MM Macro
Colonies of Synthyris missurica start blooming on the mountain slopes shortly after snowmelt.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Synthyris missurica

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All content except USDA Plants Database map Copyright Gerald C. Williamson 2014
Photographs Copyrighted by the named photographer