Parnassia palustris

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Parnassia palustris
Parnassia palustris - Niitvälja bog.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Celastrales
Family: Celastraceae
Genus: Parnassia
P. palustris
Binomial name
Parnassia palustris
Parnassia palustris distribution maps.svg

Parnassia palustris, commonly called marsh grass of Parnassus, northern grass-of-Parnassus, or just grass-of-Parnassus,[1] and bog-star, is a flowering plant in the staff-vine family Celastraceae.[2]

It is the county flower of Cumberland in England, and appears on its flag.[3]

The name comes from ancient Greece: evidently the cattle on Mount Parnassus appreciated the plant; hence it was an "honorary grass".[4] The species epithet palustris is Latin for "of the marsh" and indicates its common habitat.[5] It was described by the Greek physician Dioscorides, growing up a mountain in 1st century A.D.[6]


It is not a grass, nor does it look like one, but grows from a short underground stem. It has long stemmed heart-shaped leaves, which are 4-12 in (10–30 cm) long. In the centre of the leaf, is the flowering stem. The stem holds a solitary white flower, blooming between July and October. The flower has 5 stamens around the centre. The flower produces a honey-like scent to attract pollinators.[6]

Range and distribution[edit]

Parnassia palustris is native to northern temperate parts of Eurasia.[7] Found in wet moorlands and marshes of northern England and Scotland.[6]


It was once used in herbal medicines, to treat disorders of the liver. Also an infusion of the leaves, (similar to a tea) was used to treat indigestion. When added to wine or water, the leaves are claimed to dissolve kidney stones.[6]


  1. ^ "BSBI List 2007". Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (xls) on 2015-01-25. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
  2. ^ "Plants Profile — Parnassia palustris L., marsh grass of Parnassus". U.S. Department of Agriculture — Natural Resources Conservation Service. Retrieved 3 February 2010.
  3. ^ "Cumberland Flag". Flag Institute. Retrieved 8 October 2017.
  4. ^ "Grass-of-Parnassus". Plantlife. Retrieved 10 December 2010.
  5. ^ Archibald William Smith A Gardener's Handbook of Plant Names: Their Meanings and Origins, p. 258, at Google Books
  6. ^ a b c d Press, J. R.; Sutton, Dr D. A.; Tebbs, B. M. (1981). Field Guide to the Wild Flowers of Great Britain. London: The Reader's Digest. p. 155.
  7. ^ Arne Anderberg. "Parnassia palustris L." Den Virtuella Floran. Naturhistoriska riksmuseet. Retrieved 6 September 2018.

External links[edit]