Frasera albicaulis Dougl. ex Griseb.

white-stemmed elkweed

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

White-stemmed elkweed is native to western and northwestern North America, and a visitor to New England, where it has been collected on dry soils of hillsides, forest fragments and clearings in Massachusetts.

Habitat

Cliffs, balds, or ledges, forest edges, forests, meadows and fields

Characteristics

Habitat
terrestrial
Flower petal color
  • blue to purple
  • green to brown
  • white
Leaf type
the leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
Leaf arrangement
  • opposite: there are two leaves per node along the stem
  • whorled: there are three or more leaves per node along the stem
Leaf blade edges
the edge of the leaf blade is entire (has no teeth or lobes)
Flower symmetry
there are two or more ways to evenly divide the flower (the flower is radially symmetrical)
Number of sepals, petals or tepals
there are four petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
Fusion of sepals and petals
the petals or the sepals are fused into a cup or tube
Stamen number
4
Fruit type (general)
the fruit is dry and splits open when ripe
Show All Characteristics
  • Clonal plantlets
    Bulbils
    the plant does not appear to have bulbils
    Bulblets replace flowers
    there are no bulblets where the flowers are located
  • Flowers
    Anther attachment
    the anther is attached near its midpoint to the filament
    Anther color
    • the anthers show no hint of a pink, reddish or purplish tint
    • there is a noticeable pink, reddish or purplish tint to the anthers
    Anther opening
    the anthers have narrow slits or furrows that run lengthwise along the anthers
    Anther spurs
    the anthers do not have spurs on them
    Calyx symmetry
    there are two or more ways to evenly divide the calyx (the calyx is radially symmetrical)
    Carpels fused
    the carpels are fused to one another
    Cleistogamous flowers
    there are no cleistogamous flowers on the plan
    Corolla palate
    no
    Corona lobe length
    0 mm
    Epicalyx
    the flower does not have an epicalyx
    Epicalyx number of parts
    0
    Filament surface
    the filament is smooth, with no hairs or scales
    Flower description
    the flower has a superior ovary, and lacks a hypanthium
    Flower length
    6–12 mm
    Flower orientation
    the flower points upwards or is angled outwards
    Flower petal color
    • blue to purple
    • green to brown
    • white
    Flower reproductive parts
    the flower has both pollen- and seed-producing parts
    Flower symmetry
    there are two or more ways to evenly divide the flower (the flower is radially symmetrical)
    Flowers sunken into stem
    no
    Form of style
    the style is narrow at the tip and unbranched
    Fused stamen clusters
    NA
    Fusion of sepals and petals
    the petals or the sepals are fused into a cup or tube
    Horns in hoods (Asclepias)
    NA
    Hypanthium
    the flower does not have a hypanthium
    Inflorescence one-sided
    the flowers are arrayed in a spiral around the inflorescence axis or branches, or occur singly, or in several ranks
    Inner tepals (Rumex)
    NA
    Length of flower stalk
    2–30 mm
    Marks on petals
    • the petals have spots or streaks on them
    • there are no noticeable marks on the petals
    Nectar spur
    the flower has no nectar spurs
    Number of carpels
    2
    Number of pistils
    1
    Number of sepals, petals or tepals
    there are four petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
    Number of styles
    1
    Ovary position
    the ovary is above the point of petal and/or sepal attachment
    Perianth shape
    the perianth is rotate (platter-shaped, the corolla flattened, circular, with nearly horizontally spreading lobes)
    Petal and sepal arrangement
    the flower includes two cycles of petal- or sepal-like structures
    Petal and sepal colors
    • blue to purple
    • green to brown
    • white
    Petal appearance
    the petals are thin and delicate, and pigmented (colored other than green or brown)
    Petal folds or pleats
    the petals of the flower do not have folds or plaits
    Petal glandular dots or scales
    yes
    Petal hairs (Viola)
    NA
    Petal length
    6–12 mm
    Petal length relative to sepals
    the petals are about equal in length to the sepals
    Petal nectaries
    the petals have at least one nectary
    Petal number
    4
    Petal shape
    • the petal outline is elliptic (shaped like an ellipse; widest near the middle and tapering at both ends)
    • the petal outline is oblong (rectangular, but with rounded ends)
    Petal tip shape
    • the petal tip is acuminate (tapers to a very narrow point)
    • the petal tip is acute (sharply pointed)
    Petal tips (Cuscuta)
    NA
    Scales inside corolla
    no
    Sepal and petal color
    the sepals are different from the petals
    Sepal appearance
    the sepals are green or brown, and leaf-like in texture
    Sepal appendages
    the sepals do not have appendages on them
    Sepal appendages (Oenothera)
    NA
    Sepal color
    green to brown
    Sepal length
    3–12 mm
    Sepal number
    4
    Sepal orientation
    the sepals are slightly curved outwards from the corolla
    Sepal shape
    the sepal outline is lanceolate (lance-shaped; narrow, gradually tapering from the base to the tip)
    Sepals fused only to sepals
    the sepals are fused to each other (not other flower parts), at least near their bases
    Stamen appendages
    stamen appendages are absent
    Stamen attachment
    the stamens are attached at or near the bases of the petals or tepals
    Stamen lengths differ
    the stamens are all approximately the same length
    Stamen morphology
    the stamens within each cycle are the same
    Stamen number
    4
    Stamen position relative to petals
    the stamens are lined up with the sepals
    Stamen relative length
    anything
    Stamens fused
    the stamens are attached to one another at or near their bases
    Staminodes
    there are no staminodes on the flower
    Stigma position
    the stigmas are positioned at the tip of the style
    Style petal-like
    the styles are not petal-like
    Style relative length
    the stigma does not protrude beyond the mouth of the corolla
    Surface of ovary
    the ovary surface has no points, bumps or wrinkles
    Umbel flower reproductive parts
    NA
    Upper lip of bilabiate corolla
    NA
  • Fruits or seeds
    Achene relative orientation
    NA
    Achene shape
    NA
    Achene surface (Polygonum)
    NA
    Achene type
    NA
    Berry color
    NA
    Capsule color (Viola)
    NA
    Capsule splitting
    the capsule splits by two main valves, teeth or pores
    Fruit (pyxis) dehiscence
    NA
    Fruit features (Brassicaceae)
    NA
    Fruit locules
    one
    Fruit shape
    the fruit is flat or strongly compressed
    Fruit type (general)
    the fruit is dry and splits open when ripe
    Fruit type (specific)
    the fruit is a capsule (splits along two or more seams, apical teeth or pores when dry, to release two or more seeds)
    Legumes (Fabaceae)
    NA
    Mericarp length
    0 mm
    Mericarp segment shape (Desmodium)
    NA
    Other markings on berry
    NA
    Ovary stipe
    the ovary or fruit does not have a stipe
    Placenta arrangement
    the plant has parietal placentation, where ovules develop on the wall or slight outgrowths of the wall forming broken partitions within a compound ovary
    Rows of seeds in fruit (Brassicaceae)
    NA
    Schizocarpic fruit compression
    NA
    Schizocarpic fruit segments
    0
    Septum in fruit (Brassicaceae)
    NA
    Wings on fruit
    the fruit does not have wings on it
    prickles on fruits
    the fruits do not have thorn-like defensive structures
  • Glands or sap
    Glands on leaf blade
    the leaf blades do not have glandular dots or scales
    Sap
    the sap is clear and watery
    Sap color
    the sap is clear
  • Growth form
    Growth form
    the plant is an herb (it has self-supporting stems)
    Lifespan
    the plant lives more than two years
    Parasitism
    the plant is not parasitic
    Plant color
    the leaves or young stems of the plant are green
    Plants darken when dry
    no
    Spines on plant
    the plant has no spines
  • Leaves
    Bracteole number (Apiaceae)
    0
    Bracteoles
    there are no bracteoles on the plant
    Bracts in plantain (Plantago)
    NA
    Final leaf segment length (compound lvs only)
    0 mm
    Final leaf segment length to width ratio (compound lvs only)
    0
    Final leaf segment width (compound lvs only)
    0 mm
    Hairs on leaf stalk
    NA
    Hairs on underside of leaf
    the underside of the leaf is not hairy, or it has very few hairs
    Hairs on upper side of leaf
    the upper side of the leaf is not hairy, or it has very few hairs
    Hooked hairs on underside of leaf
    no
    Leaf arrangement
    • opposite: there are two leaves per node along the stem
    • whorled: there are three or more leaves per node along the stem
    Leaf blade base
    the leaf has no stalk and at the base it clasps the stem
    Leaf blade edges
    the edge of the leaf blade is entire (has no teeth or lobes)
    Leaf blade hairs
    NA
    Leaf blade length
    40–230 mm
    Leaf blade primary vein pattern
    the secondary veins branch off at intervals from the primary vein
    Leaf blade shape
    • the leaf blade is linear (very narrow with more or less parallel sides)
    • the leaf blade is oblanceolate (lance-shaped, but with the widest point above the middle of the leaf blade)
    • the leaf blade is oblong (rectangular but with rounded ends)
    Leaf blade surface colors
    the upper side of the leaf blade has obvious spots, mottles or stripes
    Leaf blade texture
    the leaf blade is herbaceous (has a leafy texture)
    Leaf blade width
    3–20 mm
    Leaf duration
    the leaves drop off in winter (or they whither but persist on the plant)
    Leaf form
    the leaves are green, with an expanded blade and a leaf-like texture
    Leaf hair orientation
    NA
    Leaf spines
    there are no spines on the leaf edges
    Leaf stalk
    the leaves have no leaf stalks, but attach directly to the stem
    Leaf stalk attachment to leaf
    NA
    Leaf stalk base
    NA
    Leaf teeth and lobes
    the edge of the leaf blade is entire (has no teeth or lobes)
    Leaf type
    the leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
    Leaf types
    There is an abrupt change in appearance of the leaves from the base (or near the base) of the plant to those from further up on the stem, with the basal leaves of conspicuously different shape or form than those slightly higher up.
    Leaf variation
    • the leaves are nearly similar in size, prominence of teeth, and length of stalks throughout the stem
    • the lower leaves are larger, toothier, and/or on longer stalks than the upper leaves
    Leaflet number
    0
    Leaflet petiolules
    NA
    Leaves per node
    there are two leaves per node along the stem
    Pinnately compound leaf type
    NA
    Specific leaf type
    the leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
    Stipels
    NA
    Stipule edges
    NA
    Stipule features
    NA
    Stipule fused to leaf stalk
    NA
    Stipule shape
    NA
    Stipules
    there are no stipules on the plant
    Teeth per side of leaf blade
    0
  • Place
    Habitat
    terrestrial
    Specific habitat
    • cliffs, balds, or ledges
    • edges of forests
    • forests
    • meadows or fields
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Branched tendrils
    NA
    Hair between stem nodes
    • the stem has hairs between the nodes
    • the stem has no hairs between the nodes
    Hooked hairs on stem between nodes
    no
    Leaves on stem
    there is at least one full leaf above the base of the flowering stem
    Plant height
    10–65 cm
    Stem orientation
    the stems are upright or angled outwards
    Stem spacing
    the plant is solitary, or a few plants are growing together
    Tendril origin
    NA
    Tendrils
    the plant does not have tendrils

Wetland Status

Not classified

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
absent
Maine
absent
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
absent
Rhode Island
absent
Vermont
absent

Conservation Status

None

Native to North America?

Yes and no (some introduced)

Synonyms

  • Frasera albicaulis Dougl. ex Griseb. var. nitida (Benth.) C.L. Hitchc.
  • Frasera nitida Benth.
  • Swertia albicaulis (Dougl. ex Griseb.) Kuntze var. nitida (Benth.) Jepson
  • Swertia nitida (Benth.) Jepson

Family

Gentianaceae

Genus

Frasera

Notes on Subspecies and Varieties in New England

Our subspecies Frasera albicaulis Dougl. ex Griseb. ssp. nitida.

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

1.  Frasera albicaulis Dougl. ex Griseb. ssp. nitida (Benth.) C. L. Hitchc. E

white-stemmed elkweed. Frasera albicaulis Dougl. ex Griseb. var. nitida (Benth.) C.L. Hitchc.; 
 F. nitida Benth.; Swertia albicaulis (Dougl. ex Griseb.) Kuntze var. nitida (Benth.) Jepson; 
 S. nitida (Benth.) Jepson • MA. Dry soil of hillsides, forest fragments, and clearings.