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U.S. Forest Service

Hemitomes congestum - Gnome Plant

Gnome plant is a small, rare to uncommon, herbaceous perennial wildflower with a limited geographic distribution in the western United States, California, Oregon, and Washington. It gets its common name due to its appearance as a small, fleshy lump in the leaf litter.

Hemitomes congestum. Hemitomes congestum. Photo by Jed and Bonnie McClellan.

Map of North America showing green shaded areas where the species may be found. Hemitomes congestum range map. USDA PLANTS Database.

Hemitomes congestum (Hemitomes – half a eunuch from one anther containing no pollen; congestum- crowded from the densely flowered inflorescence).

Hemitomes congestum attains a height of 2 to 10 centimeters. The plant is fleshy and mostly glabrous. The leaves are scale-like on the flower stalk (peduncle). The flower stalk is pink or cream. The inflorescence is a raceme of densely arranged flowers. The flowers are cream or pink and pubescent inside. The fruit is a fleshy berry and has a strong musky or cheesy odor that may be attractive to small mammals. The plant is not persistent after the berry has ripened.

Hemitomes congestum flowers from early to mid summer. It is found in mature, moist, shaded mixed or coniferous forests from 30 to 2,700 meters.

Hemitomes congestum. Hemitomes congestum flower. Photo by Allyn G. Smith.