Sunday 19 May
Marsh grass-of-Parnassus (Parnassia palustris)
What’s the World’s Favourite Species?Find out here.
Marsh grass-of-Parnassus fact file
- Find out more
- Print factsheet
Marsh grass-of-Parnassus description
Named after Mount Parnassus in central Greece, the marsh grass-of-Parnassus (Parnassia palustris) is not in fact a grass, and is rather a member of the family Saxifragaceae (2), which comprises some 580 or so species of flowering plant (3).
The marsh grass-of-Parnassus can be recognised by its single white, showy flower which stands atop an upright, slender, bald stem. The attractive flower consists of 5 conspicuously-veined petals that are 8 to 13 millimetres in length. The leaves are produced in a rosette at the base of the plant, except for a single leaf on the middle of the flowering stem. The leaves are heart-shaped and taper to the base. The numerous, tiny, oblong seeds are encased in an oval-shaped, four-valved fruit capsule (4).
- Also known as
- bog star, grass of Parnassus, grass-of-Parnassus, marsh grass, northern grass of Parnassus, Parnassus. Top
Michigan Natural Features Inventory:
- Having a pH greater than 7.0. Soil is regarded as alkaline if it has a pH between 8.0 and 10.0. Alkaline soils are usually rich in calcium ions.
- Containing calcium carbonate, chalky.
- The fusion of gametes (male and female reproductive cells) to produce an embryo, which grows into a new individual.
- Genetic diversity
- The variety of genes within a particular species, population or breed causing differences in morphology, physiology and behaviour.
- Plants that live for at least three seasons; after an initial period they produce flowers once a year.
- The transfer of pollen grains from the stamen (male part of a flower) to the stigma (female part of a flower) of a flowering plant. This usually leads to fertilisation, the development of seeds and, eventually, a new plant.
- An animal that in the act of visiting a plant’s flowers transfers pollen grains from the stamen (male part of a flower) to the stigma (female part of a flower) of a flowering plant. This usually leads to fertilisation, the development of seeds and, eventually, a new plant.
Catalogue of Life (July, 2011)
Plantlife - Grass-of-Parnassus (July, 2011)
Watson, L. and Dallwitz, M.J. (1992) The Families of Flowering Plants: Descriptions, Illustrations, Identification and Information Retrival. Version 4th March 2011. Universität Hamburg, Germany. Available at:
Michigan Natural Features Inventory - Marsh grass-of-Parnassus (July, 2011)
Plants for a Future - Parnassia palustris (July, 2011)
- Bonnin, I. et al. (2002) Population structure of an endangered species living in contrasted habitats: Parnassia palustris (Saxifragaceae). Molecular Ecology, 11: 979-990.
- Bossuyt, B. (2007) Genetic rescue in an isolated metapopulation of a naturally fragmented plant species, Parnassia palustris. Conservation Biology, 21: 832-841.
- view the contents of, and Material on, the website;
- download and retain copies of the Material on their personal systems in digital form in low resolution for their own personal use;
- teachers, lecturers and students may incorporate the Material in their educational material (including, but not limited to, their lesson plans, presentations, worksheets and projects) in hard copy and digital format for use within a registered educational establishment, provided that the integrity of the Material is maintained and that copyright ownership and authorship is appropriately acknowledged by the End User.
Marsh grass-of-Parnassus biology
A perennial species, the marsh grass-of-Parnassus flowers in July and August in North America, with the timing of flowering varying elsewhere. Nectar is secreted which aids in attracting insects, including bees, flies and beetles, for pollination (4). However, this species is also capable of self-fertilising if its flowers are not fertilised with the aid of pollinators (5).Top
Marsh grass-of-Parnassus range
In North America, this species ranges from Alaska east to Labrador, Newfoundland and Quebec, and south to Oregon, Wyoming, North and South Dakota, the Upper Great Lakes region, and New York (4).Top
Marsh grass-of-Parnassus habitat
The marsh grass-of-Parnassus is most frequently found in alkaline habitats, such as wet moorland, marshes, meadows and high altitude bogs. It may also be found growing on damp calcareous sands on lakeshores (4) (5).Top
Marsh grass-of-Parnassus status
The marsh grass-of-parnassus has not yet been assessed by the IUCN.Top
Marsh grass-of-Parnassus threats
The marsh grass-of-Parnassus has an extremely large range and does not appear to be at risk from any major threats. However, some small, isolated populations appear to have low genetic diversity with little connectivity to other populations, increasing their risk of extinction (6) (7).Top
Marsh grass-of-Parnassus conservation
Although the marsh grass-of-Parnassus has not been the target of any known conservation measures, it occurs in a number of protected areas, including the Isle Royale National Park in the United States (4).Top
Find out more
Find out more about the marsh grass-of-Parnassus:
This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
More »Related species
Play the Team WILD game
MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.
Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials
Copyright in this website and materials contained on this website (Material) belongs to Wildscreen or its licensors.
Visitors to this website (End Users) are entitled to:
End Users shall not copy or otherwise extract, alter or manipulate Material other than as permitted in these Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials.
Additional use of flagged material
Green flagged material
Certain Material on this website (Licence 4 Material) displays a green flag next to the Material and is available for not-for-profit conservation or educational use. This material may be used by End Users, who are individuals or organisations that are in our opinion not-for-profit, for their not-for-profit conservation or not-for-profit educational purposes. Low resolution, watermarked images may be copied from this website by such End Users for such purposes. If you require high resolution or non-watermarked versions of the Material, please contact Wildscreen with details of your proposed use.
Creative commons material
Certain Material on this website has been licensed to Wildscreen under a Creative Commons Licence. These images are clearly marked with the Creative Commons buttons and may be used by End Users only in the way allowed by the specific Creative Commons Licence under which they have been submitted. Please see http://creativecommons.org for details.
Any other use
Please contact the copyright owners directly (copyright and contact details are shown for each media item) to negotiate terms and conditions for any use of Material other than those expressly permitted above. Please note that many of the contributors to ARKive are commercial operators and may request a fee for such use.
Save as permitted above, no person or organisation is permitted to incorporate any copyright material from this website into any other work or publication in any format (this includes but is not limited to: websites, Apps, CDs, DVDs, intranets, extranets, signage, digital communications or on printed materials for external or other distribution). Use of the Material for promotional, administrative or for-profit purposes is not permitted.