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Sarcodes sanguinea in Yosemite National Park - May 2013.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Ericales
Family: Ericaceae
Genus: Sarcodes
Species: S. sanguinea
Binomial name
Sarcodes sanguinea

Sarcodes is a monotypic genus of a single springtime flowering plant in the heath family (Ericaceae) containing the single species Sarcodes sanguinea, commonly called the snow plant or snow flower. It is a parasitic plant that derives sustenance and nutrients from mycorrhizal fungi that attach to roots of trees. It is unable to photosynthesize nutrients.[1] Ectomycorrhizal (EM) symbioses involve a mutualism between a plant root and a fungus; the plant provides fixed carbon to the fungus and in return, the fungus provides mineral nutrients, water and protection from pathogens to the plant. The snow plant takes advantage of this mutualism by tapping into the network and stealing sugars from the photosynthetic partner by way of the fungus.[2]

The plant's aboveground tissue is its inflorescence, a raceme of bright scarlet red flowers wrapped in many straplike, pointed bracts with fringed edges, themselves bright red to orange in color.[3]

Sarcodes newly emergent from ground, Yosemite National Park

Sarcodes sanguinea is native to western North America from Oregon through the mountains of California into Baja California. Its name derives from the striking red flower that emerges from the sometimes still snow-covered ground in early spring or summer; this may be as late as July in high elevations, such as those of the High Sierra Nevada and Cascades.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Capon, Brian (2005). Botany for Gardeners (2nd ed.). Portland, OR: Timber Publishing. p. 127. ISBN 0-88192-655-8. 
  2. ^ Bruns TD, Bidartondo MI, Taylor DL (2002). "Host Specificity in Ectomycorrhizal Communities: What do the exceptions tell us?". Integr. Comp. Biol. 42 (2): 352–359. doi:10.1093/icb/42.2.352. 
  3. ^ a b Schoenherr, Allan A. (1995). A Natural History of California. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. pp. 145–146. ISBN 0-520-06922-6. 

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