WILDFLOWERS OF NEW MEXICO

 
 

Erect to sprawling stems with spherical clusters of small, pink, funnel-shaped flowers and balls of 3-winged, papery fruit capsules look bizarre in the Chihuahua Desert and sandy brushlands. Note the showy flower lobes, leaves with sandpapery bottoms, and fruit capsule with 3 papery wings. Only long-tongued insects like hawk moths can reach the nectar at the base of the long tubes and pollinate the flowers.


FLOWERS: April–September. Stems to 4-inches long bear spherical clusters of 10–25 pink flowers with 1/2–1-inch (13-25 mm) long tubes that flair open with 5 deeply notched lobes that spread open to 3/8-inch wide (1 cm). Note each 3-winged, oval, papery fruit capsule is at least 3/4-inch (20 mm) long or longer.


LEAVES: Opposite pairs with branching and flower stems growing from the axils. Leaf stems (petioles) 3/8–3 3/8-inches long (1–8.5 cm), blades 1–3 3/4-inches long (2.5–9.5 cm), oblong to lance-shaped, rough on bottom, top usually smooth, margins often with tiny prickle-like hairs.


HABITAT: Dry, sandy soils of sand sagebrush, blackbrush, desert scrub.


ELEVATION: To 6,500 feet.


RANGE: AZ, CO, NM, TX, UT; Mexico.


SIMILAR SPECIES: The 3 species of Sandpuffs in the desert scrub regions of NM are separated by length of flower tube and color of the lobes. Small-flowered Sandpuffs, T. micranthus, in the nw and sw corners of NM, has a floral tube 1/4–3/4-inch (6–18 mm) long with inconspicuous lobes; Wooton’s Sandpuffs, T. wootonii, in the western half of the state, has white flowers and a seed capsule less than 3/4-inch (20 mm) long.


NM COUNTIES: Scattered in the western half of NM and San Miguel County in low-elevation, dry, sandy habitats: Bernalillo, Cibola, Dona Ana, Grant, Luna, McKinley, Otero, Rio Arriba, San Juan, San Miguel, Sandoval, Sierra, Socorro, Valencia.

WINGED  SANDPUFFS

TRIPTEROCALYX  CARNEUS

Four O’Clock Family, Nyctaginaceae

Annual herb

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Leaves have smooth tops, rough bottoms, and tiny prickles along the edges.

Each seed capsule has 3 enlarged, papery wings.

Pink to magenta flowers have long tubes and  5 lobes that spread to 3/8-inch wide. Only long-tongued insects like hawk moths can reach the nectar at the base of the tube.

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