Chionophila jamesii

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Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27
Chionophila jamesii

"Snowlover" is starting a modest bloom, started from Alplains seed last year, collected in Colorado... oddly pinched-mouth little flowers.

Here's more info on it, and some better examples:

Boland's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-09-25

Never heard of this one!

Todd Boland St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada Zone 5b 1800 mm precipitation per year

Anne Spiegel
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-01-26

Lori, I've tried a number of times to grow this. I loved seeing it in Colorado near melting snow always, and love that fine brown line at the edge of the petals. Have never succeeded in getting it through a year - heat and humidity are not to its liking. My only pictures of it in the wild are unfortunately slides. It was always high - 12,000' at Loveland Pass and 13,000' at Mt. Sherman. At first glance it looked like a penstemon, then Panayoti identified it.  It's Just a beautiful plant.

Hendrix's picture
Title: Guest
Joined: 2010-12-24

Chionophila jamesii has been happily growing and blooming in my gardens at 10,000 feet outside Breckenridge, Colorado for 6 years.  It's in a west-facing, rather dry raised bed containing sandy, but very fertile, enhanced native soil.  The first photo was taken in 1999 by my husband Klaus Hendrix at about 12,600 feet on Hoosier Ridge, Summit County, Colorado.  This was an unusually large specimen --- flowers and foliage.  It was the only one in that area and no others that we found some distance away were that large.  We visited this plant every June for about 6 years but then it disappeared.  Maybe an animal ate it.  There was no trace of it and the rocks were not at all disturbed.

In 2004, I began a trial of this species at Mountain View Experimental Gardens.  It produces a slowly-spreading mat and after a few years, I took 2 divisions and replanted them in a hot, sunny raised bed facing south and a cooler, sunny raised bed facing north.  Chionophila jamesii is doing equally well in all 3 sites.  Here are a couple of photos of garden-grown specimens.

The flowers are white with a chocolate-brown border which gives them a pouty look when viewed from the front.

Jane Hendrix
Mountain View Experimental Gardens
Peak 7-Breckenridge, Colorado USA.
Elev: 10,000 feet
Zone 4 &


Hoy's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-15

Hello Jane!A very nice species, this one! I say as Todd: I've never heard of it! The fat specimen can be a polyploid one?

Trond Rogaland, Norway - with cool, often rainy summers  (29C max) and mild, often rainy winters (180 cm/year)!

Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27

Terrific to see it in the wild and in the next-to-wild!  Thanks, Jane, and welcome!

Lori Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Zone 3 -30 C to +30 C (rarely!); elevation ~1130m; annual precipitation ~40 cm

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Hello Jane,

So glad you made it over here with your fine first NARGS posting; a hearty welcome to the forum! 

I've been aware of this plant for a long time, but must admit to never seeing it in the flesh, nor have I tried to grow it yet.  The plant reminds me of a stunted Chelone or Turtlehead; an interesting curiosity.  Checking the floras, I see there are two species, C. jamesii and the lesser known C. tweedyi; the latter perhaps not as attractive.  Here are some additional links:

USDA Plant Profile of both species of Chionophila, C. jamesii and C. tweedyi:

Image from NARGS Wiki:

more images:

Chionophila tweedyi

Mark McDonough Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5 antennaria at  

Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-04

Lori and Jane I have been thinking of trying this little gem but have not gotten around to trying it yet. Your experiances in growing it make me hopeful. I see it listed by Alan Bradshaw in the Alplains Catalog. I will have to amend my order to include it.

From the High Desert Steppe of the Great Basin and the Eastern Escarpment of the Sierra Nevada Range Located in Reno/Sparks,NV  zone 6-7 John P Weiser

Booker's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-01-30

A hearty welcome Jane ... excellent images of a beautiful species.  How I wish we had visited your fascinating garden when we were in Breckenridge a number of years ago!

Cliff Booker A.K.A. Ranunculus On the moors in Lancashire, U.K. Usually wet, often windy, sometimes cold ... and that's just me!

Anne Spiegel
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-01-26

Welcome to the Forum, Jane.  Wonderful pictures of one of my favorite plants in Colorado.  Mt. Sherman is a good location to see this, on the ridge (about 13,000') between Mt. Sherman and the mountain to the left, which is maybe Mt. Madison (or Mt. Monroe?).  We saw some pretty large plants there - with many bloom stems.Lucky you to be so successful with it in the garden.

Paul T
Title: Guest
Joined: 2011-01-31

A rather pretty plant, which I assume is related to snapdragons?  Or is that just a superficial resemblance?

Cheers.Paul T.Canberra, Australia.Min winter temp -8 or -9°C. Max summer temp 40°C. Thankfully, maybe once or twice a year only.


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