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California Caltrop

Kallstroemia californica

Kallstroemia californica photo by Michael Plagens

Blooming in the Rainbow Valley west of the Estrella Mountains, Maricopa Co., Arizona, USA on 12 Sept. 2009. A nearly mature fruit can be seen at lower left.

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ANNUAL HERB: Warm season annual grows rapidly after late spring or summer rains. Low growing and often prostrate. Very closely resembles the related Puncture Vine (Tribulus terestris).

LEAVES: Dark green, compound leaves with an even number of leaflets are alternate on the stems. Stems are covered with hairs.

RANGE: Sonoran Desert and distributed west into the Mojave Desert and east into the Chihuahuan Desert. Often in distrubed soils at roadsides and along washes.

FLOWERS: Small flowers more or less 6 mm dia. Yellow, five-petalled with ten stames. July to Sept.

UNARMED: Unlike puncture vine, the seeds do not have sharp spurs.

FRUIT: The spherical fruit is small, eventually breaking into several segments (schizocarp), and has a warty texture.

Zygophyllaceae -- Caltrop Family

More Information:

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


Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2009