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White Ratany

Krameria grayi

Photo © by Michael Plagens

Photographed near Mesquite Wash, Maricopa Co., Arizona. May 4, 2008.

Photo © by Michael Plagens

Close-up of flower showing five large sepals, three very small and narrow flag petals. One of the two, darker, purple-colored gland-petals can be seen.. Photographed near Mesquite Wash, Maricopa Co., Arizona. May 4, 2008.

SHRUB: Woody shrub mostly less than one meter tall, sometimes sprawling. The Kramerias are apparently root parasites, tapping their roots into the roots of other shrubs' root systems for water and minerals. The young twigs appear whitish due to copious pubescence.

FLOWERS: Gaudy pink-purple flowers have a very unique structure. The sepals are colored and appear to be the petals. Above them are three tiny 'flag petals' - in this species the three are not joined along their claws. Then on either side of the stamen-pistal column are two, dark purple, gland-like structures which seem to be derived from the two remaining petals (most rosids have five petals total).

FRUIT: A football-shaped capsule with an array of barbed, but flexible spines. Similar to Range Ratany, however, the small to minute barbs are in a cluster near the tip of the spine.

ARMED. Twigs are barely spine-like and are unlikely to draw blood at all.

LEAVES: Leaves are elyptic to linear and covered with more-or-less dense white pubescence. Alternate or sometimes appearing fascicled. Deciduous after hard frost or extreme drought.

RANGE: Frequent throughout the Sonoran Desert in Arizona and Mexico on rocky slopes and to a lesser extent, desert flats.

Krameriaceae -- Ratany Family

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The oddities of this plant are extended to its pollination by bees that gather oil from the purple glands rather than nectar.

More Information:

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2009