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For information on Wisconsin's rare plants, contact:
Kevin Doyle

Hoary Whitlow-grass (Draba cana)

Need a main photo for this plant

Life history

Species overview

Hoary Whitlow-grass (Draba cana), a Wisconsin Endangered plant, is found on exposed dolomite cliffs, especially along the Nigaran Escarpment. Blooming occurs early May through early July; fruiting occurs late June through late July. The optimal identification period for this species is early May through late July.

Synonyms: Draba lanceolata, Draba breweri var. cana, Draba stylaris


  • Distinguishing characteristics: Distinguished from D. arabisans by stellate hairs that coat the outside of the fruits.
  • Flower characteristics: White, 4-petaled, usually about 12 per stem.
  • Fruit characteristics: Oblong, flattened, twisted pods.
  • Leaf characteristics: Basal leaves radially arranged in a tight cluster (rosette).


  • Blooming phenology: early May through early July
  • Fruiting phenology: late June through late July
  • Optimum time to identify: The optimal identification period for this species is early May through late July


  • Growth form: Forb-erect
  • Vegetative reproduction:
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Comments: Associated Species: Campanula rotundifolia, Aquilegia canadensis, Hackelia deflexa var. americana.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Hoary Whitlow-grass (Draba cana). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where this species has been found to date and is not meant as a range map.

Documented locations of Draba cana in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.

Summary Information
State StatusEND
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS1
Global RankG5
Tracked by NHIY

Habitats and landscapes

The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.

General habitat information

  • Habitat description: Found on exposed dolomite cliffs, especially along the Nigaran Escarpment.
  • Soils: Rocky or gravelly, calcareous soils.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Hoary Whitlow-grass. Scores for natural community associations are: "significant" association (score=3), "moderate association" (score=2) or the species can be present but is only weakly associated with the community (score=1).

Natural communities score
Dry Cliff 3

Ecological landscapes

This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Hoary Whitlow-grass. The scores (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None) also correspond to the map.

Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.

Species guidance

The Endangered Resources Program has developed avoidance measures and management guidelines for plants on the Natural Heritage Working List. These are a work in progress, and we welcome your suggestions and feedback. Sources used in developing this information can be found here.

Avoidance measures

These are specific actions designed to avoid "take" (mortality) of this species.

  • No avoidance measures have been developed for this species.

Management guidance

Management guidelines are additional considerations that may help maintain or enhance habitat for this species

  • No guidance has been developed for this species.


No additional photos are available for Hoary Whitlow-grass at this time. Please consider donating a photo to the Natural Heritage Conservation Program.

Support for Wisconsin's rare plant information has been provided by the Division of Forestry, the Endangered Resources Fund and the Wisconsin Rare Plant Preservation Fund. To donate, visit the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin [exit DNR].

Last revised: Friday, February 15, 2019
Southwest Savanna Southern Lake Michigan Coastal Western Coulees and Ridges Southeast Glacial Plains Central Sand Hills Central Lake Michigan Coastal Central Sand Plains Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northeast Sands Western Prairie North Central Forest Northern Highlands Northwest Lowlands Northwest Sands Northwest Lowlands Superior Coastal Plains Forest Transition