Phemeranthus parviflorus (Small-flowered Fameflower)
|Also known as:||Sunbright, Prairie Flameflower|
|Habitat:||sun; thin soil over bedrock|
|Bloom season:||June - July|
|Plant height:||3 to 6 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||none|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Flowers are displayed in an open array on slender stalks that diverge near the end of a long smooth stem. Flowers are 1/3 to ½ inch across, star-shaped with 5 pink petals and 5 to 10 erect pink stamens with bright yellow tips. The single center ovary is bright green and egg shaped, with a frosty white stigma on the tip of the style. Two papery thin oval sepals embrace the base of the flower. The flower cluster starts with a single bloom on a long slender stalk but develops multiple branches through the season with new flowers opening briefly just once late in the day before quickly shedding both petals and sepals.
Leaves and stems:
Minnesota's two Fameflower species, Small-flowered and Rough-seeded Fameflower (Phemeranthus rugospermus), are very nearly identical in general appearance though easy to discriminate on several key characteristics. Perhaps the easiest might be that historical collections do not overlap in a single county (see maps). While that may suffice as a quick general guide it could easily provide the wrong answer - i.e. just because no one has found it somewhere before doesn't mean it's not there now. The best way is to count the stamens. P. rugospermus has anywhere between 12 and 25, typically +20, P. parviflorus only has 5 to 10, typically 6 to 8. It should be noted here that all major references (Gleason & Cronquist, Britton & Brown, and Flora of North America) are consistent with P. parviflorus having typically 5 stamens, 6 at most. But all of our observations and in photographs of specimens taken from Renville, Rock and Stearns counties, all of them have had 6 or more with 7 or 8 common. It can also be observed that the white stigma in P. parviflous is more globular (capitate), only occasionally visibly split into 3 parts, where on P. rugospermus it is clearly split into three linear parts. Fameflowers are well adapted to their hot, dry sunny habitats by their small cylindrical and succulent leaves, short fleshy stems and a flower period set to late afternoons and early evening. The flowers open quickly for just one day and then quickly shed sepals and petals before the next sun-up.
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Where to buy native seed and plants ↓
- Small-flowered Fameflower plant
- Small-flowered Fameflower habitat
- more flowers
- plant before flowers open up
- plants on moss-covered bedrock
- garden-grown Small-flowered Fameflower
Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Renville, Rock and Stearns counties, and in a private garden in Ramsey County.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?