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   Streptanthella longirostris and its cousin Streptanthus cordatus are early bloomers and although hard to find at first, are soon seen to be common.

    "Streptos" is Greek for "twisted" and "anthus" is Greek for "flower", thus "Twistflower". "Ella" is "small". "Long" is Latin for "long" and "rostris" is "beak", both referring to the pointed seeds. "Cordatus" is Latin for "heart" and refers to the leaf shape.

Streptanthella longirostris
 

Streptanthella longirostris (Little Twistflower, Long-beaked Twistflower)
Brassicaceae (Mustard Family)

Semi-desert. Canyons. Spring.
Silvey's Pocket, May 17, 2014.

Streptanthella longirostris     Streptanthella longirostris
 

 

 

 

Streptanthella longirostris (Little Twistflower, Long-beaked Twistflower)
Brassicaceae (Mustard Family)

Semi-desert. Canyons. Spring.
Behind the Rocks Wilderness Study Area, Utah, April 14, 2009 and Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, March 27, 2005.

Purple flower buds at the top of a tall, swaying stem attract attention and then one notices the tiny urn-shaped yellow/white/purple flowers. The stem continues to elongate with a bud blossoming into a flower every few days depending on the moisture and temperature.

The photos show the influence of location on plant growth: growing in the open, plants tend to be more compact, shorter, straighter. Starting life under a rock forces the plant to stretch for sunlight in an open, elongated, crooked, staggering growth pattern.

Sereno Watson collected the first specimen of this plant on Stansbury Island in the Great Salt Lake in 1869 and he at first named the plant Arabis longirostris in 1871, then renamed it Streptanthus longirostris in 1890, then Thelypodium longirostris in the Jepson Manual of 1925. Per Axel Rydberg gave the plant its presently accepted name in his 1917 Flora of the Rocky Mountains and Adjacent Plains.

 Streptanthella longirostrisStreptanthella longirostris
Streptanthella longirostris (Little Twistflower, Long-beaked Twistflower)
Brassicaceae (Mustard Family)

Semi-desert. Canyons. Spring.
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, March 27, 2005 and Bill Canyon, Utah, April 13, 2005.

From flower to seed, Streptanthella longirostris is an unusual plant. "Longirostris" is Latin for "long beak".

Streptanthella longirostris
Streptanthella longirostris (Little Twistflower, Long-beaked Twistflower)
Brassicaceae (Mustard Family)

Semi-desert. Canyons. Spring.
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, May 13, 2004.

Hundreds of seed pods droop from this three foot tall giant Streptanthella longirostris.  2005 produced a bumper crop of this plant and most plants produced huge seed crops.

Streptanthus cordatus

Streptanthus cordatus (Heartleaf Twistflower)
Brassicaceae (Mustard Family)
 

Semi-desert. Canyons. Spring.
Mule Canyon, Utah, April 24, 2008 and
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, April 20, 2005 and April 9, 2012.

In late fall and early spring the small blue-green basal leaves of Streptanthus cordatus are quite noticeable growing on open, sandy areas. As spring days warm, the long, slender, elongating purple stalk attracts even more attention. The upper heart-shaped, blue-green, glaucous leaves broaden and clasp the long, slender, leaning stalk. Dark purple buds, appearing at first glance to be flowers, top the stalk, which continues to elongate. Lower buds open first to a yellow and purple twisted delight of a flower.

In moist spring weather (such as in the years 2001 and 2005) the stalk might grow to three feet tall with several dozen flowers spread evenly.

Thomas Nuttall named this genus and species in 1838 from a specimen he collected in the "forests of the Rocky Mountains" (quotation from the Intermountain Flora) on his 1834-1837 trip across the Louisiana Territory to the Pacific with the Wyeth Expedition.

Streptanthus cordatus (Heartleaf Twistflower)
Brassicaceae (Mustard Family)

Semi-desert. Woodlands, openings. Spring.
Canyonlands National Park, Utah, April 14, 2004.

The very long, upward-curving seed pods of Heartleaf Twistflower give no indication of the tiny flowers that preceded them. Notice the floral parts still surrounding the base of several seed pods. Notice how very different the seed pods are from those of Streptanthella longirostris pictured above.

Streptanthus cordatus Lower leaves are petiolate, spatulate, and toothed; upper are sessile, clasping, heart-shaped, and smooth-margined.

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Range map for Streptanthella longirostris

Range map for Streptanthus cordatus