Triantha glutinosa (Sticky False Asphodel)

Plant Info
Also known as: Sticky Tofieldia
Family:Tofieldiaceae (Tofieldia)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:sun; wet, calcareous soil; fens, seeps, marly shorelines, wet meadows
Bloom season:June - August
Plant height:6 to 20 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: OBL MW: OBL NCNE: OBL
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 6-petals Cluster type: raceme

[photo of flowers] A spike-like raceme of stalked flowers at the top of the stem, with 1 to 3 flowers at a node, the flowers often crowded together at the tip of the stem, sometimes separated. Flowers are ¼ to 1/3 inch across, with 6 white tepals (petals and similar sepals). In the center are 6 white stamens, the tips red turning brown, surrounding a pale green, 3-sectioned, bullet-shaped ovary with 3 spreading styles at the tip. At the base of a flower stalk is a pair of small, scale-like bracts. Stalks and the upper stem are densely covered in sticky glandular hairs.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: simple

[photo of basal leaves] Leaves are mostly basal, erect, narrow and grass-like, 2 to 7 inches long, up to about ¼ inch wide, toothless, hairless and stalkless.

[photo of upper stem leaf and glandular stem] 1 to 3 stem leaves similar to the basal leaves, but smaller, may be alternately arranged up to about mid-stem, or absent altogether. Stems are erect, unbranched, slender, densely glandular near the flowers and more sparsely so below.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] After pollination the tepals fold up, enveloping the developing fruit: an oval, 3-sectioned capsule about twice as long as the tepals, the styles persisting at the tip. The capsule turns red as it matures, drying to light brown and becoming papery. Inside the capsule are tiny reddish brown seeds.


Sticky False Asphodel—what a fun name. :-) The 6-parted flowers, red fruits, grass-like leaves and glandular stem make this an easy one to identify. Wherever it is found it is often in abundance, forming loose colonies from spreading rhizomes. The name comes from Greek mythology: the Asphodel fields were where the souls of ordinary people spent eternity; no doubt the fields were filled with Asphodel flowers. The “true” Asphodels may belong to the European Asphodelus genus.

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More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Kittson, Mahnomen and Marshall counties.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: anonymous
on: 2021-08-09 20:42:35

This plant is a carnivor as incorporated isotopic nitrogen from fruit flies has shown. Check National Geographic article by Douglas Main for the latest.

Posted by: Heidi Hughes - Pennington County
on: 2023-09-14 11:49:56

I photographed this plant going to seed in a ditch on a Glacial Lake Agassiz beach ridge west of Thief River Falls on Aug. 24 (2023).

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