SAXIFRAGE FAMILY - Saxifragaceae: Grass of Parnassus

Parnassia caroliniana

Flowers--Creamy white, delicately veined with greenish, solitary, 1 in. broad or over, at the end of a scape 8 in. to 2 ft. high, 1 ovate leaf clasping it. Calyx deeply 5-lobed; corolla of 5 spreading, parallel veined petals; 5 fertile stamens alternating with them, and 3 stout imperfect stamens clustered at base of each petal; 1 very short pistil with 4 stigmas. Leaves: From the root, on long petioles, broadly oval or rounded, heart-shaped at base, rather thick.

Preferred Habitat--Wet ground, low meadows, swamps.

Flowering Season--July-September.

Distribution--New Brunswick to Virginia, west to Iowa.

What's in a name? Certainly our common grass of Parnassus, which is no grass at all, never starred the meadows round about the home of the Muses, nor sought the steaming savannas of the Carolinas. The European counterpart (P. palustris), fabled to have sprung up on Mount Parnassus, is at home here only in the Canadian border states and northward.