Frasera albicaulis

My last photographs for the series on the Gentianaceae today, though the series will continue until Friday.

These images were taken in mid-July 2009 northeast of the Lick Creek Campground in northeast Oregon, part of the USA’s Hells Canyon National Recreation Area. I believe this particular plant was spotted by my traveling companion, and I was quite delighted to see it in person, as I had only known it from books previously.

A close relative of Frasera speciosa, white-stemmed (= albicaulis) frasera occupies a different habitat. Where Frasera speciosa is a species typically found in moist alpine or subalpine meadows, the much shorter (to 75cm / 30in) Frasera albicaulis tends to be a species of dry, open sites (including sagebrush-steppe). In this case, it was growing roadside in an open area heavily dotted with pieces of gravel with a low-growing species of Allium (the purple spots in the background of the second photograph).

While I was intrigued most by the unusual colours of its flowers, others have been more interested in its roots. A 1968 paper by Stout et al. in Tetrahedron explains the investigation of the roots for the presence of xanthones: Xanthones of the Gentianaceae–II *1: Frasera albicaulis Dougl. ex Griesb.. While many xanthones (i.e., molecules using xanthone as a central core molecule) were and are produced synthetically, fifteen different kinds were found in the roots of Frasera albicaulis — ten of which had previously not been known to occur in nature. Xanthone proper is used in the production of insecticides, while some of the synthetic xanthones are involved in the manufacture of UV-resistant films.

Frasera albicaulis is native to western North America. For more photographs and a description of the species, see the Burke Museum’s page: Frasera albicaulis.

Frasera albicaulis
Frasera albicaulis

11 responses to “Frasera albicaulis”

  1. Katie McIntosh

    Locally,in West Vancouver on the slopes of Hollyburn Mountain, the gentians around Gentian Lake and along some trails were spectacular last September. It was wonderful to see these flowers in the wild but so close to an urban area.

  2. Dottie

    I LOVE the purple anthers!

  3. Kate

    their so beautiful! they look like little stars. 🙂

  4. gail

    beautiful photography….each day I really look forward to the suprises I receive. I know so little but I am grateful for those that know so much allowing me to enjoy and learn.
    Thanks!

  5. Sheila

    Stunning pic. Thank you.

  6. Richard

    I very much like the idea of working with families
    of plants. It is a good source of education for me.
    Thank you.

  7. elizabeth a airhart

    lovely i am enjoying this series
    when i searched on line cal photos has maps
    that show where this flower may grow
    click on the your state or country
    then it will show on the map where
    the plant might dwell
    always something to do around here
    thank you for the red list tag

  8. Refeal

    🙂 nice flowers
    o
    o
    o
    o
    o
    o
    o
    o

  9. aubrey graham

    lovely i am enjoying this series
    when i searched on line cal photos has maps
    that show where this flower may grow
    click on the your state or country
    then it will show on the map where
    the plant might dwell
    always something to do around here
    thank you for the red list tag

  10. Charles Tubesing

    In recent years, xanthones from natural sources have been promoted as potent antioxidants for mopping up free radicals in the body. What is claimed to be one of the most potent of these supplements is an extract from the rind of mangosteen fruits.

  11. bita

    beautiful and beautiful and beautiful

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