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Dieren en planten

Plants   Rue-leaved saxifrage   Marsh grass of Parnassus   Dune flora   White flowers   

Mens en Milieu

Marsh Grass of Parnassus


15 to 30 centimeters


flowers: white


July till October


pollination by insects, particularly flies


seeds spread by wind

life span:


  • Dut: Parnassia
  • Lat: Parnassia palustris
  • Eng: Marsh (Northern) Grass of Parnassus, bog-star
  • Fren: Parnassie
  • Ger: Sumpf-Herzblatt (Studentenröschen)
  • Dan: Almindelig leverurt
Grass of Parnassus, Foto Fitis,

Marsh Grass of Parnassus

There is something magical about marsh grass of Parnassus. Maybe because of its beautiful pure white flowers intersected with decorative green veins. Or because it was once so common in the Netherlands but is now so rare. Nowadays, it is legally protected in this country. The name itself is majestic, named after the Greek mountain Parnassus which was dedicated to the god Apollo. It flowers from June through September.

  • Distribution and habitat
    Close-up grass of parnassia, Foto Fitis,

    Marsh grass of Parnassus grows in cold moderate regions in the northern hemisphere, on damp nutrient-poor soils, such as young dune slacks and barren grasslands. The plant used to be very common throughout the Netherlands, but is now only found in larger quantities on the Wadden Islands and locally in the southwestern delta region. 

  • Exceptionally attractive
    Grass of Parnassus, Sytske Dijksen,

    Marsh grass of Parnassus must be pollinated with pollen from other plants. To accomplish this, it has decorative yet infertile stamens for attracting insects. At first, the five fertile (male) stamens are bent one over the other above (female) stigma. As soon as the flower opens, the insects land on the bent stamens in their attempt to reach the nectar located at the base of the infertile stamens. The top stamen releases its pollen onto the insect, bends open and falls off. The stamen next to the ripe one does the same within a day or two, followed by the other three. There is always a specific sequence, either clockwise or counter-clockwise. Based upon the number of stamen open or bent, you can tell how many days the flower been blossoming.

    The stigma becomes exposed as soon as all of the stamens have broken off. Self-pollination is no longer possible. The next insect to land pollinates the plant.