Dwarf alpine hawksbeard – Crepis nana

Alaska Wildflowers | Yellow

Dwarf alpine hawksbeard

Crepis nana
(Askellia pygmaea)* see note under synonyms below

Common Names

dwarf alpine hawksbeard
dwarf hawksbeard
small hawksbeard
tiny hawksbeard


Crepis nana ssp. nana
Crepis nana ssp. clivicola
Crepis nana ssp. ramosa
Askellia nana
Askellia nana ssp. ramosa
Askellia pygmaea*
Crepis nana ssp. typica
Crepis nana var. lyratifolia
Crepis nana var. ramosa

Askellia pygmaea is the accepted species name in numerous floras, including VASCAN. ITIS doesn’t yet recognize Askellia pygmaea, but I suspect there is movement toward this name. I will update this page when I learn more.



Genus: Crepis
Family: Asteraceae
Order: Asterales
full classification

Duration – Growth Habit

Perennial – Forb/herb

Identification and Information

Crepis nana is a small, low-growing, yellow-flowering perennial herb that grows from taproots with creeping rhizomes, short caudices, and a woody base. Although most are basal, it has basal and cauline leaves. The basal leaves are petiolate, orbiculate to spatulate (spoon-shaped), often purple or green, and form a rosette. Leaves may be entire, few-toothed, or sometimes shallowly lobed. There are numerous stems per plant. The stems are branched, erect, or ascending, rising 10-20 cm, and may also be purple or green. The stems and leaves often form a dense clump.

Crepis nana‘s bright yellow, sometimes purple-tinged flowers cluster in loose, branching groups that appear at various heights among or above the leaves. The characteristic of flowering while the blooms remain close to the rosette is an evolutionary adjustment to ensure the developing seeds stay within the warmest layer of air near the ground and sun-heated rocks [Canadian Museum of Nature]. The flower heads, numbering from 5 to more than 80, emerge from the plant’s center. The flowers have cylindrical involucral bracts about 7-13 mm long. They have outer and inner involucral bracts. The inner bracts are linear or lanceolate and are often purple-fringed. The flowers have 9-12 yellow ray florets, but disc florets are absent. It has 5 yellow stamens with yellow anthers and an inferior ovary. The fruit is a golden brown achene, 4-7 mm long.

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No traditional, medicinal, or culinary uses were found.

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Distribution and Habitat

Crepis nana is distributed widely across Western North America, including Alaska, Northern Canada, Siberia, and parts of China.

It is primarily found on sandy, gravelly slopes and talus in subalpine and alpine zones or in river terraces (typically in soil with low organic content). I often come across this plant in newly revealed silty or talus slopes recently exposed due to glacial retreat. It’s also common in high passes in Denali National Park and other regions of the Alaska Range.


RankScientific Name (Common Name)
KingdomPlantae (plantes, Planta, Vegetal, plants)
   SubkingdomViridiplantae (green plants)
      InfrakingdomStreptophyta (land plants)
            DivisionTracheophyta (vascular plants, tracheophytes)
               SubdivisionSpermatophytina (spermatophytes, seed plants, phanérogames)
                           FamilyAsteraceae (sunflowers, tournesols)
                              GenusCrepis L. (hawksbeard)
                                 SpeciesCrepis nana Richardson (dwarf alpine hawksbeard, small hawksbeard, tiny hawksbeard)

References and Further Reading



Classification and Taxonomy

ITIS. (n.d.). Crepis nana. Retrieved February 18, 2024, from https://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=37191#null

Database of Vascular Plants of Canada (VASCAN). (n.d.). Askellia pygmaea. Retrieved February 18, 2024, from https://data.canadensys.net/vascan/taxon/27617

USDA. (n.d.). Crepis nana. United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service. Retrieved February 18, 2024, from https://plants.usda.gov/home/plantProfile?symbol=CRNA



Map and Distribution

GBIF. (n.d.). Crepis nana. GBIF. Retrieved February 18, 2024, from https://www.gbif.org/species/5403381

NatureServe. (n.d.). Crepis nana. In NatureServe Explorer. Retrieved February 18, 2024, from https://explorer.natureserve.org/Taxon/ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.127895/Crepis_nana

Description and Information

Flora of North America Editorial Committee. (n.d.). Crepis nana. In Flora of North America. Retrieved February 18, 2024, from http://floranorthamerica.org/Crepis_nana

Canadian Museum of Nature. (n.d.). Askellia pygmaea. Retrieved February 18, 2024, from https://nature.ca/aaflora/data/www/ascrna.htm

E-Flora BC. (n.d.). Askellia pygmaea. Retrieved February 18, 2024, from https://linnet.geog.ubc.ca/Atlas/Atlas.aspx?sciname=Askellia+pygmaea

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