WILDFLOWERS OF NEW MEXICO

 
 

The bushy, wiry, greenish, nearly leafless stems perfectly adapt this intricately-branched, usually rounded, 7–20-inch tall plant to its arid habitat. Note the pink to lavender florets with tips with tiny teeth. The stems have milky sap. 


FLOWER: May–September. The 1/2-inch wide (12 mm) flower heads have 5–6 pink to lavender, petal-like florets with 5 protruding, purple stamens. The florets have 5 tiny notches or teeth on the tips. Each seed (achene) has tufts of tan to dirty-white bristles feathery for 1/2–3/4 the length (requires a 10x lens). 


LEAVES: Basal leaves linear 2/4–2 3/8 inches (2–6 cm), margins entire or toothed, wither by blooming. Stem leaves alternate, small, linear, scale-like. Leaves drop during drought, but the green stems photosynthesize.


HABITAT: Sandy, gravelly soils, plains, dunes, roadsides; shortgrass prairies, desert grasslands and scrub, pinyon-juniper woodlands.


ELEVATION: 3,400–7,500 feet.


RANGE: AZ, CA, CO, NM, NV, UT, TX.


SIMILAR SPECIES: The look-alike Wirelettuce, S. tenuifolia, in much the same range and habitat, has seeds with white bristles that are feathery over their full length (use lens). In general, these two species have enough overlapping characteristics to make identification problematic. Texas Skeleton Plant, Lygodesmia texana, in the se quarter of NM, has 8–12 petal-like ray florets.


NM COUNTIES: Nearly statewide (not recorded in Colfax County) in low- to mid-elevation, arid habitats.

WIRELETTUCE

STEPHANOMERIA  PAUCIFLORA 

Aster Family, Asteraceae

Perennial herb

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Seed heads with dirty-white (not white) bristles that are feathery for 1/2–3/4 their length indicate Strephanomeris pauciflora (use 10x lens).

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