Sonoran Desert Borages

Mostly herbaceous annuals. A few are perennials or subshrubs. Flowers are usually borne in scorpiod inflorescences, have five united petals and a superior fruit that develops into four nutlets. Leaves often armed with course bristles.

Narrow-leaf Popcorn Flower

Cryptantha angustifolia

Guadalupe Cryptantha

Cryptantha maritima

Scanned by Michael Plagens

Spring annual less than 30 cm tall with white flowers and prickly folliage. One of several common Cryptantha spp. Detailed Description

Spring annual growing along smaller washes and on rocky slopes. Minute white flowers on a scorpiod spike are followed by a fruit with just one shiny nutlet. Many similar spp. of Cryptantha require magnification of mature fruit/nutlets to be distinguished. Detailed Description

Red-Dye Popcorn Flower

Plagiobothris arizonicus

Palmer's Grapplinghook

Harpagonella palmeri

Obscure spring annual with very small white flowers. Bright red dye expresses from broken stems or leaves. Other common name: Arizona Popcorn Flower. Detailed Description

Obscure and small spring annual with strange asymetrical fruits that look like a grappling hook. Detailed Description

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Orange Fiddleneck

Amsinckia intermedia

Wingnut Cryptantha

Cryptantha pterocarya

Photo by Mike Plagens

Tall, course, spring annual with orange flowers in a scorpioid inflorescence. Common to abundant on desert flats, in washes and rocky slopes following wet winters. Detailed Description

Photo © by Mike Plagens

Spring annual growing on rocky slopes and along washes. Small white flowers quickly followed by four winged nutlets. Many similar spp. of Cryptantha all with small, whitish flowers. Detailed Description

Plicate Coldenia

Tiquilia plicata

Woody Crinklemat

Tiquilia canescens

Photo by Mike Plagens

Very small shrub of deep sandy habitats. Leaves with distinctive texture and pattern. Flowers one to few per spike are lavender. Detailed Description

Photo © by Michael Plagens

Miniature woody plant, often 10cm or less. Blooms late spring or summer. Flowers with five petals. Detailed Description

Broadfruit Comb-Bur

Pectocarya platycarpa

Arch-nutted Comb-Bur

Pectocarya recurvata

Photo by Mike Plagens

Diminutive spring annual growing on desert flats and rocky slopes. Minute white flowers are followed by a bur with four slightly curved nutlets with broad, fleshy, hooked appendages. Detailed Description

Scanned by Mike Plagens

Diminutive spring annual growing on desert flats and rocky slopes. Minute white flowers are followed by a bur with four arching segments. Many similar spp. of Pectocarya all with small white flowers. Detailed Description

Mixed-nut Comb-Bur

Pectocarya heterocarpa


Lappula occidentalis

Photo © by Michael Plagens

Ephemeral spring annual with minute white flowers. The four nutlets are of varied shapes. Detailed Description

Photo by Mike Plagens

Small, bright white five-lobed flowers. Seeds with spines all around that stick to socks and fur. Detailed Description


Heliotropum currasivicum

Photo © by Michael Plagens

Summer perennial - above ground portions herbaceous. Gray-green, succulent folliage. White flowers in a scorpioid spike. Moist, partly saline habitats. Detailed Description

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2017