Trientalis latifolia

Western starflower


The Basics

Taxonomy: Kingdom - Plantae (plants). Subkingdom - Tracheobionta (vascular plants). Superdivision - Spermatophyta (seed plants). Division - Magnoliophyta(Flowering plants). Class - Magnoliopsida. Order - Primulales. Family - Primulaceae (Primrose family). Genus -Trientalis L. Species - Trientalis borealis Raf.

Ecology: A shade-tolerant/intolerant, submontane to subalpine, Western North American forb distributed equally in the Pacific and Cordilleran regions. Occurs in cool temperate and cool mesothermal climates on moderately dry to fresh, nitrogen-medium soils; its occurrence decreases with increasing elevation and latitude. Scattered to plentiful on water-shedding sites, less frequent on water-receiving sites. Usually associated with Acer glabrum, Kindbergia oregana, Mahonia nervosa, and Polystichum munitum. Characteristic of young­seral forests.


General: Perennial herbs from slender rootstocks and tubers, the tubers usually erect, 1-2 cm. long and up to 6 mm. thick; flowering stems 1-2.5 dm. tall. Leaves: Leaves 4-8 in a terminal whorl, broadly ovate-elliptic to obovate, 3-10 cm. long and 1.5-4 cm. broad. Flowers: Flowers axillary from 1 or more leaf axils, on long, slender, curved pedicels; calyx parted to near the base, the 6 or 7 lobes linear-lanceolate; corolla pinkish to rose, rotate, divided nearly to the base, the lobes the same number as the calyx, broadly ovate; stamens opposite the corolla lobes, exerted, the filaments glabrous, slender, considerably longer than the anthers. Fruits: Capsule opening by valves.


From fire Trientalis latifolia grows relatively quickly with a high coverage of 88 +/- 2%. Was harder to find in shallow soils and occurred on poorly developed soils. Was most common to find them after a burn on slopes around 60%.


Western starflower (Trentalis latifolia) is a summer months flowering perennial forb/herb. Sexual reproduction is infrequent and few plants flower. Not all the flowers produced from Trientalis latifolia produce seeds. Tubers are the most prominent way for the species to reproduce. Rhizomes are where the tubers come from and often produce 1-4 clonal tubers.

Species Distribution


Flora of North America
Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 19+ vols. New York and Oxford.

USDA Plants Database
USDA, NRCS. 2017. The PLANTS Database. National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.
Distribution Map photo Credit

E-Flora of British Columbia
In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2015. E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Plants of British Columbia []. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver.

Jepson Flora Project
2017. Jepson Flora Project: Jepson Interchange fpr California Floristics . University of California, Berkeley

Community Traits Affect Plant-Plant Interactions Across Climatic Gradients
Copeland, S. M., & Harrison, S. P. (2017). Community traits affect plant–plant interactions across climatic gradients. Oikos, 126(2).

Plant Communities and Environmental Interrelationship in a Portion of the Tillamook Burn, Northwestern Oregon
Bailey, A. W., & Poulton, C. E. (1968). Plant communities and environmental interrelationship in a portion of the Tillamook burn, northwestern Oregon. Ecology, 49(1), 1-13.

Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture
Burke Museum. 2017.Trientalis latifolia [Online]. University of Washington.
Photo credit: 2004, Ben Legler.