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Brownplume Wirelettuce (Stephanomeria pauciflora)
Perennial Forbs Around Las Vegas, Vegetation Around Las Vegas
Brownplume Wirelettuce (Stephanomeria pauciflora)

General: Brownplume Wirelettuce (Stephanomeria pauciflora) is an upright subshrub (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. During spring, many white, "5-petaled" flowers are produced all over the plant.

Brownplume Wirelettuce is a common component of desert scrub communities on flats, washes, and bajadas in the Lower Sonoran (Creosote-Bursage Flats) and Upper Sonoran (Mojave Desert Scrub) life zones. At higher elevations, it is less common.

Around Las Vegas, look for Brownplume Wirelettuce at Red Rock Canyon, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Mojave National Preserve, and on the Desert National Wildlife Range.

Brownplume Wirelettuce (Stephanomeria pauciflora)

Family: Sunflower (Asteraceae).

Other Names: skeletonweed, wirelettuce, wire-lettuce.

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

Brownplume Wirelettuce (Stephanomeria pauciflora)

Height: To about 2 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.

Brownplume Wirelettuce (Stephanomeria pauciflora)

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 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 scrub.

Brownplume Wirelettuce (Stephanomeria pauciflora)

Elevation: To about 8,000 feet.

Distribution: Southwestern U.S. from California to Wyoming, to Texas, and south into Mexico.

Comments: After the growing season, the plant dies back, but retains its general shape. Sometimes the base breaks off, and the plant blows in the wind like a tumbleweed.


Brownplume Wirelettuce (Stephanomeria pauciflora)
Entire plant during winter
Brownplume Wirelettuce (Stephanomeria pauciflora)
Details of dead plant
Brownplume Wirelettuce (Stephanomeria pauciflora)
Developing seeds with feathery plume (plumose pappus)
Brownplume Wirelettuce (Stephanomeria pauciflora)
Seed with feathery plume (plumose pappus)
Brownplume Wirelettuce (Stephanomeria pauciflora)
When broken free, the plant can serve as a sunbonnet if necessary
more to come ...

Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate. Names generally follow the USDA database.
copyright; Last updated 141119

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