Mountain Avens (Dryas integrifolia/octopetala)

Mountain Avens (Dryas integrifolia/octopetala)
Also known as: arctic and alpine dryad, white mountain avens


Bloom time: June – July

Additional photos:


  • These plants are ground-hugging, sun-loving, semi-shrubs.
  • Arctic mountain avens (Dryas integrifolia) leaves are 1-2 cm long, narrow with smooth edges and a somewhat shiny upper surface.
  • Alpine mountain avens (Dryas octopetala) leaves are longer (up to 3.5 cm) and wider, with scalloped or wavy edges.

Leaves & Twigs: The small, leathery, evergreen leaves are wrinkled on the upper surface and hairy underneath.

Flowers & Fruits:

  • White, saucer-shaped flowers are 2-3 cm wide, growing on stalks 2-15 cm tall.
  • Seed plumes are twisted in tight red/gold bundles that open into fluffy round seed heads as they mature.

Habitat: These species prefer rocky barren areas, alpine meadows and ridges. Arctic mountain avens can also tolerate moist conditions, where it takes on a creeping form.

PlantWatch Pointers: Select a typical patch of plants, if the plants are very abundant, mark off a l-metre-square section to observe.

To Observe:

  • First bloom: when the first flowers are open in the observed plants.
  • Mid bloom: when 50% of the flowers are open in the observed plants.

Distribution Map:

Distribution Map

This species is monitored in:

  • Alberta
  • British Columbia
  • Manitoba
  • Northwest Territories
  • Nunavut
  • Ontario
  • Quebec
  • Yukon

This floral emblem for the Northwest Territories was important for the Inuit – the twisting of the mountain avens seed head marked the best time to move inland to hunt caribou.