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California Pinefoot
Pityopus californicus
About California Pinefoot (Pityopus californicus) 0 Nurseries Carry This Plant Pityopus is a monotypic genus of flowering plants in the heath family containing the single species Pityopus californicus, which is known by the common name pinefoot. It is native to the mountains of the West Coast of the United States from Washington to California, where it grows in coniferous and mixed forest types. It is uncommon throughout its range. This perennial herb is a mycoheterotroph, parasitizing fungi for nutrients. It is cream or white in color, lacking chlorophyll. It is the smallest mycotroph in the heath family. It produces a fleshy stemless peduncle above the leaf litter of the forest floor, reaching no more than 10 centimeters tall. It is covered with scale-like leaves, reduced as they do not perform photosynthesis. The above ground portion of the plant is essentially just inflorescence, with 2 to 11 cylindrical white flowers blooming for a short time. The flower has four or five white petals and a hairy throat. It produces a berry under a centimeter wide containing many seeds. The mature plant has a scent reminiscent of Brie cheese, which may serve to attract pollinators. After fruiting the plant withers away until the following flowering season.
Plant Description
Plant Type
Plant Type
Perennial herb

4 in tall

Flower Color
Flower Color

Landscaping Information
Natural Setting
Annual Precipitation: 39.3" - 151.1", Summer Precipitation: 0.34" - 5.64", Coldest Month: 36.1" - 49.0", Hottest Month: 52.6" - 72.2", Humidity: 0.01" - 21.28", Elevation: 16" - 7906"

Alternative Names
Common Names: Pityopus

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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