Elephanthead is a species whose name most can quickly guess since the individual flowers closely resemble an elephant’s head with two big ears and a trunk.
It occurs in open, marshy habitats. It is a member of the Figwort Family or Scrophulariaceae like the showy Penstemon species also found in the Monument. One of the characteristics of this family is that the flowers are usually irregular, meaning they are not radially symmetrical but can only be divided along one plane into identical halves.
Elephanthead is one of the most widely distributed species in North America at high elevations, occurring from the Arctic to as far south as the mountains of New Mexico. Its northern distribution is indicated by its species name, groenlandica, denoting that it was first discovered in Greenland.