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Prickly Wirelettuce (Pleiacanthus spinosus)
Perennial Forbs Around Las Vegas, Vegetation Around Las Vegas
Thorn Skeletonweed (Pleiacanthus spinosus)

General: Prickly Wirelettuce (Pleiacanthus spinosus), also known as Thorn Skeletonweed, is closely related to Brownplume Wirelettuce (Stephanomeria pauciflora). Both are upright subshrubs (doesn't really produce woody tissue) with many upright and interlocking stems arising from the base. The stems are green and the leaves are small and inconspicuous, but in Prickly Wirelettuce, the spines are many and obvious. During spring, many purple, "3- to 5-petaled" flowers are produced all over the plant.

Thorn Skeletonweed is an uncommon component of desert scrub communities in the mountains of the Upper Sonoran (Mojave Desert Scrub) and higher life zones. Farther north, it is more common.

Around Las Vegas, look for Thorn Skeletonweed in the Spring Mountains around Cold Creek.

Thorn Skeletonweed (Pleiacanthus spinosus)

Family: Sunflower (Asteraceae).

Other Names: skeletonweed, wirelettuce, wire-lettuce, thorn skeletonweed.

Plant Form: Many upright, interlocking branches from the base.

Thorn Skeletonweed (Pleiacanthus spinosus)

Height: To about 3 feet.

Stems: Upright, many stems from base. Stems smooth or dense hairy (tomentose).

Leaves: Small and inconspicuous, often reduced to scales on the upper branches.

Thorn Skeletonweed (Pleiacanthus spinosus)

Flowers: Blooms in the spring and early summer, and then again in the fall if conditions permit. Inflorescence: flowers arise along upper stems. Flower is actually a sunflower type flowerhead, but without the disk in the center (i.e., ray flowers only). Usually 3 to 5 ray flowers; ray lavender-pink with square, notched tips.

Seeds: Elongate, brownish, with feathery plumes that carry the seeds on the wind.

Habitat: Desert mountains.

Thorn Skeletonweed (Pleiacanthus spinosus)

Elevation: To about 8,000 feet.

Distribution: Western U.S. from California to Montana and New Mexico.

Comments:

Prickly Wirelettuce (Pleiacanthus spinosus) Prickly Wirelettuce (Pleiacanthus spinosus)
Prickly Wirelettuce (Pleiacanthus spinosus) Prickly Wirelettuce (Pleiacanthus spinosus)
Thorn Skeletonweed (Pleiacanthus spinosus) Prickly Wirelettuce (Pleiacanthus spinosus)
Thorn Skeletonweed (Pleiacanthus spinosus) Thorn Skeletonweed (Pleiacanthus spinosus)

Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate. Names generally follow the USDA database.
copyright; Last updated 101106

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