Hairy Climbing Milkweed

Funastrum hirtellum

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Photo of Sarcostemma hirtellum from southern California © by Michael Plagens

Observed at Joshua Tree National Monument where the Colorado Desert, a section of the Sonoran Desert, merges into the Mojave Desert. April 2010.

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VINE: Rambling vine with slender, wiry stems supported by trees or shrubs. Milky sap that can cause skin irritation rapidly exudes from any broken stem.

FLOWERS: Distinctive, star-shaped flowers are arranged in umbels and are white with tinges of green and pink. The stems and calyces are noticeably hairy.

FRUIT: Turgid, slightly curved pods are packed with comose (hairy) seeds.

LEAVES: Elongate, to linear leaves are borne in pairs along the stems (opposite) and are densely hairy.

RANGE: Along washes and fence rows in the western portions of the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and hence into the Mojave Desert of California and Nevada.

Milkweed vines in the Sonoran Desert have undergone many name changes, varietal names, species splits and combinations. They all seem closely related varying in leaf shape and the degree of hirsuteness.

Asclepiadaceae -- Milkweed Family

More Information:

Sonoran Desert Field Guide
Sonoran Desert Places
Sonoran Desert Naturalist Home Page

Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 15 May 2020.