Milky draba
Draba lactea

Alaska Wildflowers | White

The white-flowering milky draba (draba lactea) in the interior of Alaska

Milky draba
Draba lactea

Common Names

milky draba
milky whitlow-grass


Draba pseudopilosa
Draba allenii
Draba fladnizensis var. heterotricha



Genus: Draba
Family: Brassicaceae
Order: Brassicales
full classification

Duration – Growth Habit

Perennial – Forb/herb

Identification and Information

Milky draba (Draba lactea), also known as milky whitlow grass is a small, white-flowering perennial herb that grows from a taproot and branched caudex. Each plant has multiple unbranched stems, 2-15 (0.75-6 inches) cm tall. The stems are usually glabrous (free from hair or wool). The majority of leaves are basal, growing in a basal rosette that can be alternate or whorled. The leaves are oblanceolate to obovate, usually entire, and often pubescent with sparse white or translucent hairs. The stems may lack leaves entirely, or have one to a few.

The inflorescence is a raceme of 2-12 (typically 2-8) flowers. The flowers are attached to the flowering stem via glabrous pedicels, 2-5mm in length. Each flower has four 1-1.2 mm long and 2.5-3 mm wide sepals and four 3-5 mm long white petals. Flowers have 5 stamens with yellow anthers and a stout style with a single stigma. The flowers are usually glabrous or very sparsely hairy. The fruit is an oblong to elliptic-lanceolate, flattened 8-9 mm long pod.

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Distribution and Habitat

Milky draba has a mostly circumpolar distribution and is found in Alaska, northern Canada, and British Columbia, Greenland, Iceland, Scandinavia, and Siberia. It is considered critically imperiled in Manitoba, Ontario, and Newfoundland.

It lives in a variety of rocky and wet soils and can be found on hillsides or ridges, alpine tundra, talus, rocky meadows, wet meadows, lake and pond margins, and near streams.


RankScientific Name (Common Name)
KingdomPlantae (plantes, Planta, Vegetal, plants)
   SubkingdomViridiplantae (green plants)
      InfrakingdomStreptophyta (land plants)
            DivisionTracheophyta (vascular plants, tracheophytes)
               SubdivisionSpermatophytina ( spermatophytes, seed plants, phanérogames)
                           FamilyBrassicaceae (mustards, moutardes, crucifers)
                              GenusDraba L. (draves, whitlowgrass)
                                 SpeciesDraba lactea Adams (milky draba)

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References and Further Reading

Classification and Taxonomy

D. lactea Adams Taxonomic Serial No.: 22888, ITIS Database

D. lactea M.F. Adams, USDA Database

Map and Distribution

D. lactea Adams Published in: Adams, J.M.F. Mém. Soc. Imp. Naturalistes Moscou 5: 104. (1817)., GBIF Database

D. lactea Milky Whitlow-grass, NatureServe Explorer

Description and Information

D. lactea Adams, Mém. Soc. Imp. Naturalistes Moscou. 5: 104. 1817., Flora of North America

D. lactea Adams, Flora of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago


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