Horticulture and Landscape Architecture

Hardy Plants for Waterwise Landscapes

Dryas octopetala
Mountain avens

Dryas octopetala in foreground (V.I. Lohr)

Plant form

Very low, spreading groundcover. It retains its leaves in the winter, but they often blacken.


Plant grows about 3" tall and slowly spreads. Flowers and seedheads are held about 6 to 10 inches above the foliage.


Blooms heavily in spring and sporadically throughout the summer. Each flower is held up on a stalk about 4 to 6 inches tall. The flowers have 8 whitish petals and a bright yellow center.

Leaves and stems

Leaves have scalloped edges. They are shiny green on top and bright white on the bottom. They develop some red tones in the fall, but blacken with heavy frosts. They regain their color in spring.


Flowers are followed in early summer by feathery seed heads that are attractive most of the summer. The flower stalk grows as the seeds are forming, rising to about 10 inches tall. Seed heads have light pink tones when they are young and tight; they expand to a creamy white as they open and become feathery. Seeds blow away in late summer. The dried flower/seed stalks remain.

Native area

Found in northern arctic regions; native in Washington state.

Water use

Low to moderate; needs good drainage.

Culture and maintenance

Easy to grow. Grows best in well-drained soils.The dried seed stalks may be pruned off to obtain a neat appearance, or the stalks may be left alone to provide winter interest and help hold snow on the plant. Prune back plant stems to control spreading. Plants are not invasive. Plants will slowly root in the ground as they spread, and rooted stems may be used to move the plant to new areas. It has not produced seedlings in the garden.


Full sun.


USDA Zone 1.


No pests or diseases have been observed.
Dryas octopetala leaves (V.I. Lohr) Dryas octopetala seedheads (V.I. Lohr)


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