Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Wire Lettuce or Desert Straw

Wire lettuce, also known as desert straw, brownplume wirelettuce and fewflower wirelettuce (Stephanomeria pauciflora, variation pauciflora)
is a member of the sunflower family and has pale pinkish lavender flowers five to six notched rays and pinkish purple stamens.
The flower heads are about 3/4 inch wide.
The stems are gray-green and make up the majority of the plant.
The leaves are sparse, alternate, bluish green and narrow and linear in shape.  It is found in dry flats and deserts in most of Southern California, large portions of Arizona and New Mexico, and checkerboard distributions in Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. It is also found in northwestern Mexico.  
I have seen only one, on my third trip on to the bajada south of the Eagle Mountains, on May 1. I suspect that the flowers were just beginning to bloom and that, though sparse, will be much more plentiful on the bush in the next week or two.


  1. Wire lettuce is very abundant at Craters of the Moon in Idaho; its small and grows out of cracks on the lava.

    I also just found one plant at Pipe Spring National Monument in Arizona; from what I've been told, its a rare species at the national monument.

  2. Wire lettuce grows profusely in my rock garden as a volunteer plant. I love the delicate, lacy nature of the plant and the tiny lavender flowers. Since they don't have any negative features I welcome them.