Grass-of-Parnassus, Parnassia palustris

The type locality for this wildflower is Mt. Parnassus, Greece.
So why do we have this plant growing as a native in Marin in
serpentine seeps?  It is one of the circumboreal group of species,
also native to Europe and Asia in northern latitudes. Many wetland
species have been spread, it is thought, by migratory birds but it
could have been present in geological history well before the
Quaternary ice-ages,  first retreating southwards ahead of the
glaciers then re-colonizing suitable sites later. Other species of
Parnassia in California and the other Western States are likely
derived from this ancestor.

Each flower has five sepals, five white petals, five
stamens, five branched, feathery, staminodes and a single ovary that
matures into a many seeded capsule. The Jepson Herbarium collections
all come from the Mt. Tamalpais area but the plants are more easily viewed in the
population in the seeps below Old St. Hilary’s Chapel, Tiburon.

Text by Doreen Smith – Photo by Vernon Smith.

Parnassia palustris IMG 0802

Grass of Parnassus – (Parnassia palustris)