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Red Maids

Calandrinia ciliata

Photo © by Michael Plagens

Photographed on Vulture Peak, Maricopa Co., Arizona, USA. March 2008. The American dime is for scale.

ANNUAL: Annual that appears in spring after good winter rains. Grows outward with stems laying on soil to maybe 40 cm in diameter.

FLOWERS: Small flowers are bright magenta with five points, barely 15 mm dia. Unopened flowers are enclosed by two green sepals - a very good character to check for identification. Occasionally plants with more or fewer petals or even white petals are found.

LEAVES: Succulent leaves are alternate on succulent stems and elyptic to linear in shape. The stems and leaves change to orange-red as they begin to dry out.

RANGE: Fairly common on rocky slopes and wash banks throughout the Sonoran Desert in Arizona and Mexico but seen only every few years when rains are good.

FRUIT: Dry capsule with many black seeds opening by three sutures.

UNARMED. No thorns.

Portulacaceae -- Purslane Family

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2008