WILDFLOWERS OF NEW MEXICO

 

Slender, green, erect, 10–25-inch tall plants have hairless, branching stems that appear leafless, but has a basal rosette that may wither by blooming. Note the pink to lavender flowers with minute teeth and stems with milky sap.


FLOWER: April–September. Flower heads, 1–3-inches wide (2.5–7.5 cm), have 8–12, spreading, cupped pink to purple, petal-like ray flowers, each 1 1/2-inches long (38 mm), 3/8-inch wide (8 mm) and tipped with 5 tiny teeth. No disk flowers are present but the ray florets have showy filaments. Beneath the rays, 8–10 linear, point-tipped phyllaries form a pillar 3/4–1-inch long (20–25 mm). One flower blooms per stem tip and fades during the day. Seeds have silky, dandelion-like fluff.


LEAVES: Basal rosettes of lobed leaves, sometimes wither by flowering; alternate and scale-like on stem. Lower leaf blades narrow, linear, 4–8-inches long, 1/8–1/4-inch wide (3–6 mm), usually with tiny lobes scattered along the midvein. Upper leaves are reduced to scales. Stems have a milky, sticky sap.


HABITAT: Sandy, gravelly soils; shortgrass prairie, desert grasslands and scrub, pinyon-juniper woodlands.


ELEVATION: 3,500–5,400 feet.


RANGE: NM, OK, TX.


SIMILAR SPECIES: Another skeleton plant, L. juncea, widespread in the northern half of NM, doesn’t form a basal rosette and has smaller flowers with 5 rays, 3/4-inch long (20 mm). Wirelettuce, Stephanomeria pauciflora, statewide, has 5–6 petal-like ray flowers and is usually bushy and intricately branched.


NM COUNTIES: SE quarter of NM, scattered elsewhere, in low-elevation arid habitats: Chaves, De Baca, Eddy, Lea, Lincoln, Luna, Otero, Roosevelt, Union.

TEXAS  SKELETON  PLANT

LYGODESMIA  TEXANA

Aster Family, Asteraceae

Perennial herb

Ray flowers with 5 tiny teeth (lower arrow).

Phyllaries form a 3/4–1-inch long pillar (upper arrow).

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Basal rosette of leaves; scale-like leaves on upper stem.

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