Grass of Parnassus – Parnassia palustris

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Alaska Wildflowers | White

Flowers of grass of parnassus, also known as bog star or marsh grass of parnaussus.

Grass of parnassus

Parnassia palustris

Common Names

alaska grass of parnassus
bog star
grass of parnassus
marsh grass of parnassus
mountain grass of parnassus
northern grass of parnassus


Parnassia californica
Parnassia montanensis
Parnassia multiseta
Parnassia palustris ssp. neogaea
Parnassia palustris var. montanensis
Parnassia palustris var. palustris
Parnassia palustris var. tenuis
Parnassia palustris var. californica
Parnassia palustris var. neogaea

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Genus: Parnassia
Family: Celastraceae
Order: Celastrales
Full classification



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For information only (typically historical) – I take no responsibility for adverse effects from the use of any plant.

There are no uses listed in the Native American Ethnobotany Database. Plants For a Future lists medicinal uses from the Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants (MacDonald) and Edible and Medicinal Plants (Hamlyn) as an astringent, diuretic, and sedative. As a mouthwash from a decoction of the plant to treat stomatitis (mouth inflammation). And to aid wound healing when dried and sprinkled into wounds. Again, as with most plants, I don’t recommend any of these uses without consulting a doctor. Many of these medical uses are not proven scientifically and can be dangerous.

Identification and Information

Grass of parnassus is a flowering plant growing from a short underground stem, often growing in clusters. It has heart-shaped, leathery basal leaves in rosettes. It may also have a single stem leaf approximately at the middle of the stem about the same size as the basal leaves. Stems are 8-50 cm (3-20 inches) in length. Each stem has a single white flower with 5 ovate, veined petals, and 5 green sepals behind the petals. It has 5 stamens around the central pistil with an egg-shaped ovary. The anthers distally divided between the stamens into clusters of 9-27 with yellow-tipped filaments about as long as the stamens.

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Distribution and Habitat

Grass of parnassus (Parnassia palustris) is widely distributed across the northern hemisphere including Alaska, Canada Eurasia, and descending into the northern and western lower 48 states in the US (as far south as Arizona and New Mexico).

The grass of parnassus flowers in summer months and typically lives in wet meadows with lots of sunlight. It can also be found on rocky seashores and wet alpine environments.


RankScientific Name (Common Name)
KingdomPlantae (Plants)
SubkingdomViridiplantae (Green plants)
DivisionTracheophyta (Flowering plants)
ClassMagnoliopsida (Dicotyledons)
FamilyCelastraceae (bittersweet)
GenusParnassia L. (grass of Parnassus)
SpeciesParnassia palustris L. (marsh grass of Parnassus)

References and Further Reading


Field Guide to Alaskan Wildflowers, Pratt, Verna E. pg 54

Classification and Taxonomy

Parnassia palustris  L. Taxonomic Serial No.: 24206, ITIS Database

Parnassia palustris L. marsh grass of Parnassus, USDA Database


Parnassia palustris – L., Plants for a Future (


Parnassia palustris – L., Plants for a Future (

Field Guide to Alaskan Wildflowers, Pratt, Verna E. pg 54

Parnassia palustris (Marsh Grass of Parnassus), Minnesota Wildflowers (A field guide to the flora of Minnesota)

1. Parnassia palustris Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 1: 273. 1753., Flora of North America

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