The first time I saw a dwarf waterleaf (Hydrophyllum capitatum) was several years ago on the Hunter Creek trail in northwest Reno. When I first saw it I thought it was so interesting because it has beautiful leaves and hidden underneath the leaves are bunches of pretty little lavender flowers. If you're not looking it is an easy plant to miss.
Dwarf Waterleaf belongs to the Waterleaf family (Hydrophyllaceae). The leaves are large and deeply lobed, quite distinctive. The leaves grow up on erect stems forming a sort of umbrella that covers the small flower clusters. The stamens are long, growing out past the ends of the petals and sepals. I have found these plants mostly on rocky slopes. I've also seen a lot of them coming up in burn areas in the year following a burn in the Santa Rosa Mountains.
Waterleaf has been used as a food. The shoots and leaves can be collected before the flowers appear and cooked as a vegetable.
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