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Caltha leptosepala (White marsh-marigold)
Bransford, W.D. and Dolphia

Caltha leptosepala

Caltha leptosepala DC.

White Marsh-marigold, Elks-lip

Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)


USDA Symbol: CALE4

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), AK (N), CAN (N)

The glossy, basal leaves of this marsh-marigold are distinctly longer than broad with wavy edges. Showy flowers, occuring on a few-leaved stem, are purplish outside and white within. There are several leaves at the base of each erect, leafless flowering stem, with usually only 1 white, bowl-shaped flower at tip. Masses of yellow stamens add to the flowers’ showiness. Usually only one flower is borne from each stem, but there can be two or three.

Marsh Marigolds bloom very close to receding snowbanks. The name Elks-lip refers to the shape of the long leaf of this species. Twin-flowered Marsh Marigold (C. biflora), from Alaska to California, east to Colorado, is very similar but has leaves about as wide as long and nearly always 2 flowers on each stem.


From the Image Gallery

7 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Fruit Type: Aggregate , Follicle
Size Notes: Up to about 1 foot tall.
Leaf: Green

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Yellow , Purple
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul , Aug


USA: AK , AZ , CA , CO , ID , MT , NM , NV , OR , UT , WA , WY
Canada: AB
Native Distribution: AK, s. in mts. to NM, AZ & e. OR
Native Habitat: Wet alpine & subalpine meadows; stream edges; bogs

Growing Conditions

Water Use: High
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Wet
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Soil Description: Moist to wet soils.


Conspicuous Flowers: yes


Description: Propagate by seed or division of roots.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

From the Archive

Wildflower Newsletter 1989 VOL. 6, NO.4 - Spring Climbs Rockies Slowly, Colorado Cooler, Conference of Wildflower and Nati...

Additional resources

USDA: Find Caltha leptosepala in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Caltha leptosepala in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Caltha leptosepala


Record Modified: 2023-01-27
Research By: TWC Staff

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