White Mountain-heather
Cassiope mertensiana
(Bong.) D. Don
Family: Ericaceae, Heath
Genus: Cassiope

General: evergreen, tufted shrub, forming widespread mats,
stems 5-30 cm tall, nearly completely concealed by the
leaves, hairless to finely short-hairy.
Leaves: opposite, thick, scale-like, overlapping, in 4
distinct vertical rows obscuring stem, stalkless, flat-lying,
2-5 mm long, ovate-lanceolate, rounded on the back,
grooved only at the extreme base, hairless or edged with
minutely glandular tiny hairs or longer chafflike, white hairs
that fall off early.
Flowers: nodding, usually several near the branch tips,
5-8 mm long, the stalks 5-30 mm long, hairless or short-
hairy. Sepals ovate, entire to slightly irregular on edges,
reddish. Corolla bell-shaped, white, the lobes ovate, about
1/3 length of the tube, curved backward. Filaments not
enlarged at the base.
Flowering time: July-August.
Fruits: round capsules, 5-celled, splitting lengthwise
along the middle of each cell, with many seeds.

Moist slopes, where snow-covered in winter, usually not
much below timber line, in w. and s.c. parts of MT. Also
from AK and the Canadian Rockies to CA and NV.

Medicinal plant: see below.
(click on image for full size)

English Names Index
Scientific Names Index
Family Index

The Thompson Indians used a decoction of White Mountain-heather taken over a period of time for tuberculosis and spitting up blood.


var. gracilis (Piper) C. L. Hitchc.:
Stems and flower stalks hairless, leaves with minute hairs on edges. From n.e. OR through ID and MT.

var. mertensiana (Bong.) D. Don:
Stems and flower stalks short-hairy, calyx lobes entire, and leaves usually hairless. In the Cascades from AK to s. OR and in the Rockies to w. MT.

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