Besseya wyomingensis

Besseya wyomingensis is a perennial, rhizomatous herb densely covered in soft white hair. The flowers of B. wyomingensis have no petals, appearing most obviously as two bright purple stamens projecting 1 cm, along a dense spike of many flowers appearing from May to July. The stems are typically 10 to 25 cm tall, though can be up to 50 cm. The leaves are predominantly basal, with rounded teeth along the margins and reach 2 to 5 cm in length. The fruit are broad, oval shaped capsules with a notch at the tip.

B. wyomingensis is found in dry, open slopes from foothills to alpine elevations from British Columbia and Alberta southward to Colorado.

Navajo lore requires a hunter to chew the leaves of B. wyomingensis if the bladder of a deer is cut during butchering, in order to relieve the suffering of the deer. Failure to follow this stipulation will result in kidney failure of the hunter, requiring large amounts of cold tea made from the leaves to be drank. Also the dried roots would be chewed and added to his smoking mixture in precaution.

A synonym of B. wyomingensis is Synthris wyomingensis

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References

Hitchcock, C.L. and A. Cronquist (1994) Flora of the Pacific Northwest, University of Washington Press, Seattle and London.

Kershaw, L., A. MacKinnon and J. Pojar (1998) Plants of the Rocky Mountains. Lone Pine Publishing, Washing, Canada.

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