Owl Creek Miner's Candle / Center For Plant Conservation
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Plant Profile

Owl Creek Miner's Candle (Cryptantha subcapitata)

Cryptantha subcapitata in flower in it's habitat, rocky open ground, in Fremont Co., WY. Photo Credit: J. Locklear
  • Global Rank: G2 - Imperiled
  • Legal Status: N/A
  • Family: Boraginaceae
  • State: WY
  • Nature Serve ID: 155343
  • Lifeform: Subshrub, Forb/herb
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 02/25/1988

The foothills of Wyoming's Owl Creek and Bridger mountains are dry, desolate jumbles of rock and clay, yet the Owl Creek miner's candle occurs nowhere else, part of the tapestry of dwarf plants that mantles the rocky ridges and slopes. When not in bloom, it is hard to distinguish this plant from the other silver and gray cushions and mats that grow here. But during the brief flowering season of spring, Owl Creek miner's candle is lit up by clusters of sparkling white forget-me-not flowers.

Where is Owl Creek Miner's Candle (Cryptantha subcapitata) located in the wild?


Sandy-gravelly slopes and barren ridges. Appears to be restricted to sandstones and conglomerates derived from the Eocene-age Wind River Formation, although it has been reported from limestone soil. Occurs in cushion plant communities, often dominated by Sphaeromeria capitata or Artemisia nova, within more densely vegetated cold desert shrubland dominated by big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata). Elevation 4700-6000 ft.


Limited to the Owl Creek and Bridger Mountains in the vicinity of Boysen Reservoir and the northern Wind River Basin in Fremont County, Wyoming.

States & Provinces:

Owl Creek Miner's Candle can be found in Wyoming

Which CPC Partners conserve Owl Creek Miner's Candle (Cryptantha subcapitata)?

CPC's Plant Sponsorship Program provides long term stewardship of rare plants in our National Collection. We are so grateful for all our donors who have made the Plant Sponsorship Program so successful. We are in the process of acknowledging all our wonderful plant sponsorship donors on our website. This is a work in progress and will be updated regularly.

Conservation Actions

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

A narrow endemic of the Owl Creek Mountains and northern Wind River Basin in central Wyoming. Restricted to outcrops of the Wind River Formation. This edaphic endemic is intrinsically rare (it is very likely a neoendemic) and is currently known from 5 occurrences. It may be locally common within a restricted area.

Jim Locklear
  • 01/01/2010

Threats are generally low due to the rugged and inaccessible nature of the plant's habitat. Its small natural range makes the species vulnerable to extirpation from chance natural events (Fertig 2000).

Jim Locklear
  • 01/01/2010

Known from 3 extant populations, with approximately 38,000 individuals in an area of 1460 acres (Fertig 2000).

Jim Locklear
  • 01/01/2010

None known.

Jim Locklear
  • 01/01/2010

Additional surveys. Population monitoring. Exact habitat characterization.

Jim Locklear
  • 01/01/2010

Seed germination studies.


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Taxon Cryptantha subcapitata
Authority Dorn & Lichvar
Family Boraginaceae
CPC Number 1140
ITIS 501828
Duration Perennial
Common Names miner's candle | Owl Creek miner's candle | Wallowa cat's-eye | Wallowa cryptantha
Associated Scientific Names Cryptantha subcapitata
Distribution Limited to the Owl Creek and Bridger Mountains in the vicinity of Boysen Reservoir and the northern Wind River Basin in Fremont County, Wyoming.
State Rank
State State Rank
Wyoming S2
Ecological Relationships


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