Felger, R.S., S. Rutman, A. Salywon, and J. Malusa. 2015. Ajo Peak to Tinajas Altas: A flora of southwestern Arizona. Part 11.
Eudicots: Brassicaceae and Burseraceae. Phytoneuron 2015-6: 1–48. Published 1 February 2015. SSN 2153 733X
Herbarium, University of Arizona
Tucson, Arizona 85721
Sky Island Alliance
P.O. Box 41165
Tucson, Arizona 85717
*Author for correspondence: [email protected]
90 West 10th Street
Ajo, Arizona 85321
[email protected]
Desert Botanical Garden
1201 North Galvin Parkway
Phoenix, Arizona 85008
[email protected]
School of Natural Resources and the Environment
University of Arizona
Tucson, Arizona 85721
[email protected]
A floristic account is provided for the mustard and frankincense families as part of the
vascular plant flora of the contiguous protected areas of Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument,
Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, and the Tinajas Altas Region in the Sonoran Desert of
southwestern Arizona. The mustard family in the flora area includes 23 genera and 32 species; the
majority are cool-season annuals (ephemerals). There are no hot-season annuals. Lyrocarpa coulteri
and Hesperidanthus are the only mustards in the flora area growing during the warmer seasons.
Among the 12 non-native species only 3 are established as reproducing populations in the flora area.
Five species are represented in the fossil record. Sibara angelorum in Cabeza Prieta NWR is the only
record for the United States. The frankincense family includes a single species (Bursera microphylla)
in the flora area as well as in southwestern USA. This is the eleventh contribution for this flora
published in Phytoneuron and also posted open-access on the website of the University of Arizona
Herbarium (ARIZ).
This contribution to the vascular plant flora in southwestern Arizona is the eleventh published
in a series in Phytoneuron and also posted open-access on the website of the University of Arizona
Herbarium (ARIZ). The area of coverage is that of the contiguous protected areas of Organ Pipe
Cactus National Monument, Cabeza Prieta NWR, and the Tinajas Altas Region in the heart of the
Sonoran Desert (Figure 1). Two eudicot families are included in this contribution: Brassicaceae and
Felger et al.: Southwestern Arizona flora, Brassicaceae and Burseraceae
Figure 1. Flora area in southwestern Arizona. TA = Tinajas Altas. CP = Cabeza Prieta NWR. OP = Organ
Pipe Cactus NM. Green shading indicates approximate boundaries of federally designated wilderness.
The first article in this series includes maps and brief descriptions of the physical, biological,
ecological, floristic, and deep history of the flora area (Felger et al. 2013a). This flora includes the
modern, present-day taxa as well as fossil records from packrat middens.
Fossil specimens are indicated with a dagger symbol (†) and the one fossil taxon no longer
present in the flora area (Athysanus pusillus) is marked with two dagger symbols (††). Non-native
species are marked with an asterisk (*) and non-natives not established (not reproducing) in the flora
area are marked with double asterisks (**). In the following species accounts, the accepted scientific
names are in bold and selected synonyms are italicized within brackets [--]. Common names, when
known or worthwhile, are in English, Spanish, and the Hia-Ced O’odham dialect, respectively (see
Felger 2007 and Felger et al. 1992 for usage of Hia-Ced O’odham plant names). Spanish-language
names are italicized. The qualifications about and approximately are generally omitted, with the
obvious understanding that such quantitative values are, to varying degrees, seldom exact. The
identification keys are for the modern flora.
All photos and scans are by Sue Rutman unless otherwise stated. All specimens cited are at
the University of Arizona Herbarium (ARIZ) unless otherwise indicated by the abbreviations for
herbaria at Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge (CAB), Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
(ORPI), and the standardized abbreviations for herbaria (Index Herbariorum, Thiers 2013). We have
seen specimens or images of all specimens cited. When no collection number is provided, the
Felger et al.: Southwestern Arizona flora, Brassicaceae and Burseraceae
specimen is identified by the date of collection. Generally only the first collector’s name is given.
Area designations are: OP = Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, CP = Cabeza Prieta National
Wildlife Refuge, and TA = Tinajas Altas Region. Additional explanation of the format for this flora
series is provided in part 3 (Felger et al. 2013b). Descriptions and keys pertain to taxa and
populations as they occur in the flora area.
Annual (ephemeral) and perennial herbs; containing mustard oils. Leaves alternate, the lower
leaves often in a basal rosette; without stipules. Sepals and petals in a cross-like pattern—hence the
alternate family name Cruciferae. Calyx cylindrical with 4 separate, mostly deciduous sepals. Petals
4 (or fewer or rarely absent), separate, mostly clawed (conspicuously narrowed basally). Stamens 6
(or sometimes fewer), usually with 2 outer, shorter stamens, and 4 inner ones of 2 opposite pairs.
Ovary superior. Fruits (siliques or silicles) highly variable, dry, mostly 2-chambered capsules,
dehiscent by 2 valves opening from base to apex, or sometimes 1-chambered and indehiscent, or
separating into 1-seeded segments. Seeds often mucilaginous when wet. The family is easily
recognized but the genera are often distinguished on technical characters of the fruit that can be
difficult for the non-specialist to differentiate.
Crucifers recorded from the general flora area include 23 genera with 32 species (Table 1).
Among the 32 species, 28 are cool-season ephemerals including 9 species not established as
reproducing populations; non-natives include 12 species, and 9 of them are not established as
reproducing populations in the flora area. Five or six species have been found in fossil packrat
middens, one of which, Athysanus pusillus, is no longer present in the flora area.
Table 1. Local distributions of Brassicaceae and Burseraceae taxa. † = Taxa represented by a fossil
specimen(s); †† = fossil taxon no longer present in the flora area; * = non-native taxa; ** = non-native taxa not
established in the flora area. OP = Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument; CP = Cabeza Prieta National
Wildlife Refuge; TA = Tinajas Altas Region. SU = summer/warm-season ephemerals; WI = coolseason/winter-spring ephemerals; PR = perennials. Localities and growth forms in parentheses are ones that are
rare or seldom found and apparently not reproducing, or known only from fossils, and not part of the modern
flora; these are not counted in the totals.
††Athysanus pusillus
Boechera perennans
**Brassica kaber
**Brassica nigra
*Brassica tournefortii
**Capsella bursa-pastoris
†Descurainia pinnata
**Descurainia sophia
Dimorphocarpa pinnatifida
Dithyrea californica
*Eruca vesicaria
Erysimum capitatum
Hesperidanthus linearifolius
†Lepidium lasiocarpum
Lepidium oblongum
Lepidium thurberi
Growth Form
Summer Winter
Felger et al.: Southwestern Arizona flora, Brassicaceae and Burseraceae
†Lepidium sp./spp.
Lyrocarpa coulteri
**Matthiola longipetala
**Nasturtium officinale
Physaria tenella
Planodes virginicum
Sibara angelorum
**Sisymbrium altissimum
*Sisymbrium irio
**Sisymbrium orientale
Streptanthus carinatus
Streptanthus lasiophyllus
Streptanthus longirostris
Thelypodium wrightii
**Thlaspi arvense
†Thysanocarpus curvipes
†Tomostima cuneifolia
†Bursera microphylla
Most Sonoran Desert mustards are winter-spring ephemerals and produce their first and
usually largest leaves in a basal rosette; cauline leaves (stem leaves above the basal rosette) are often
gradually reduced above. Lyrocarpa is the exception, being perennial without a basal rosette and
flowering at any time of year with sufficient moisture. A few herbaceous perennials such as
Boechera and Hesperidanthus extend only to the margins of the desert, but like most Sonoran Desert
crucifers, they grow and flower during the cooler seasons. Hesperidanthus also flowers after summer
rains in August and September. (Stanleya pinnata in the Kofa Mountains, north of the flora area, is
one of the few other perennial members of the mustard family that extend into the Sonoran Desert. It
is, however, summer-dormant in the desert and only reaches the margin of the desert.) Lepidium
thurberi is often biennial, but where it ranges into the desert it is an ephemeral.
The young plants of more than a dozen local species are potentially edible as greens, and the
seeds are likewise potentially edible (Felger 2007; Hodgson 2001; Uphof 1968). The most
economically important crucifers are in the genus Brassica; others include horseradish, radish,
watercress, and ornamental garden flowers such as stock and wallflower. The family is worldwide
with 321 genera and 3660 species (Al-Shehbaz 2010, 2012).
1. Fruits less than 2 (3) times longer than wide, variously shaped.
2. Plants with stellate hairs; petals yellow; fruits globose, bladder-like………………….. Physaria
2. Plants with dendritic (branched) or simple hairs; petals white, or brownish to dull purple; fruits
variously shaped, compressed (flattened).
3. Fruits spectacle-shaped (of 2 disc-shaped halves) joined by about 25% of their margins;
flowers very fragrant; dunes and sand soils.
4. Leaves with slender lobes; petals (fresh) 5–7 mm long; fruiting pedicels 7–22 mm long;
stigma triangular………………………………………………………..…… Dimorphocarpa
4. Leaves with broad, coarse teeth or lobes; petals (fresh) 10–12 mm long; fruiting pedicels
1.5–2.5 mm long; stigma rounded………………………………………..….………. Dithyrea
Felger et al.: Southwestern Arizona flora, Brassicaceae and Burseraceae
3. Fruits not of 2 disc-shaped halves; flowers fragrant or not.
5. Perennials (sometimes flowering in first season), with dendritic hairs; petals 12–20+ mm
long; fruits 10–28 mm long……………………………………………………….. Lyrocarpa
5. Winter-spring ephemerals, glabrous or with simple hairs; petals to 3 mm long or absent;
fruits to 7.5 mm long.
6. Pedicels somewhat thick, straight to slightly curved; fruits 3–4 mm long, 2–seeded, not
winged or inconspicuously winged at apex………………………………………. Lepidium
6. Pedicels slender, recurved; fruits 5.5–7.5 mm long, 1–seeded, the margin conspicuously
winged and often with small perforations (holes)………………………..… Thysanocarpus
1. Fruits more than 3 times longer than wide, linear or narrowly oblong.
7. Plants glabrous or with simple hairs.
8. Fruit flattened; seeds winged or not.
9. Leaves pectinate, the segments linear; petals pale lavender to purplish; seeds wingless.
9. Leaves entire to dentate, pinnatifid or pinnatisect; petals purple, white (sometimes tinged
maroon or with purple veins); seeds winged.
10. Stem (cauline) leaves clasping; petals 14–18 mm long; fruits 4–6 mm
wide.……………………………………………...…………….….. Streptanthus carinatus
10. Stem leaves not clasping—sessile or petiolate; petals less than 10 mm long; fruits less
than 2 mm wide.
11. Leaves pinnatifid to pinnatisect; petals whitish; fruit 1–1.5 mm wide, not
beaked……………………………………..……………………………………. Planodes
11. Leaves entire, dentate to sinuate, or pinnatifid; petals white (sometimes tinged with
maroon or with purple veins) or purple; fruit 4–6 mm wide or with an indehiscent beaklike tip 3–5 mm long……………………...……………..………… Streptanthus (in part)
8. Fruit rounded in cross-section (terete); seeds not winged.
12. Fruits with a tapering beak usually 2 mm or more long…………………………. Brassica
12. Fruits not beaked.
13. Fruits often turned downward at maturity or spreading to ascending; fruiting pedicels
0.5–3 mm long………………………………………...…..….… Streptanthus lasiophyllus
13. Fruits ascending or spreading; fruiting pedicels 4–20 mm long.
14. Petals yellowish; cauline leaves pinnately lobed or pinnatisect; widespread.
…………………………………………………………………………….…. Sisymbrium
14. Petals white to purplish; cauline leaves entire or pinnately lobed; Ajo and Diablo Mts.
15. Outer pair of sepals with a callus (thickening) near the tip of each sepal; petals
purple to pinkish or rarely white; stigmas 2-lobed; fruits not constricted between the
seeds…………………………………………………………………... Hesperidanthus
Felger et al.: Southwestern Arizona flora, Brassicaceae and Burseraceae
5. Outer pair of sepals without a callus; petals white or rarely purplish; stigmas entire;
fruits constricted between seeds…..........................................................…Thelypodium
7. Plants with branched hairs (T-shaped, Y-shaped, or dendritic).
16. Plants with T-shaped (2-armed) hairs; Ajo Mts……………….………..….….. Erysimum
16. Plants with dendritic hairs.
17. Leaves finely divided; petals yellow to pale yellow……………………….. Descurainia
17. Leaves entire to toothed (dentate); petals white or pink to purple.
18. Ephemerals; leaves all basal, l; fruits to 1.2 cm long; widespread.…….… Tomostima
18. Ephemerals and perennials; leaves not all basal; fruits 4 or more cm long; in the Ajo
Mts or rare.
19. Perennials; petals 5–9 mm long; fruits 4–7 cm long; Ajo Mts………...…. Boechera
19. Annuals; petals 15 or more mm long; fruits 5–7 cm long; lowlands, scarce and
probably not established………………………………………………...….... Matthiola
Two species in western North America including northwestern Mexico.
††Athysanus pusillus (Hooker) Greene
[Thysanocarpus pusillus Hooker]
Common sandweed
Slender and delicate, cool-season ephemerals. Flowers rather inconspicuous with small white
petals or often without petals. Fruits flat, rounded in outline, and 1-seeded.
It was in the Ajo Mountains more than 13,500 years ago. The nearest present-day
populations are in the Kofa Mountains and near Tucson. In Arizona mostly at elevations above the
desert. Western North America from British Columbia to Baja California and central Arizona.
OP: †Montezuma’s Head, fruits, 13,500 ybp.
Mostly perennial herbs; 110 species in North America including northern Mexico, and
Russian Far East.
Boechera perennans (S. Watson) W.A. Weber
[Arabis perennans S. Watson]
Rockcress. Figure 2.
Perennial herbs, to 70 cm tall from a woody caudex. Stems usually 2–5 per caudex branch,
densely pubescent proximally with Y-shaped and often 3–5-branched (dendritic) or rarely simple
hairs, usually glabrous distally. Basal leaves oblanceolate to obovate, the margins dentate, the blade
surfaces densely pubescent with 3–6-branched hairs. Cauline leaves clasping the stem, the uppermost
usually glabrous. Fruiting pedicels usually horizontal, 6–25 mm long. Petals whitish tinged with
pink or purple, 5–9 mm long. Fruits widely pendent and usually curved, (3) 4–7 cm × 1.7–2.1 mm,
glabrous; ovules 60–96 per ovary. Growing and flowering during the cooler seasons of the year.
Ajo Mountains, often among rocks, especially canyons and slopes at higher elevations. It
does not extend into the lower desert.
Felger et al.: Southwestern Arizona flora, Brassicaceae and Burseraceae
Southwestern United States and northern Mexico in Baja California, Chihuahua, and northern
OP: Alamo Canyon: 2500 ft, Nichol 14 Mar 1939. Canyon bottom at margin of wash, 29 Mar 2003,
Felger 03-421. Arch Canyon trail, corolla blue-purple, 11 Mar 1983, Daniel 2617 (ASU). Middle fork Alamo
Canyon near crestline of Ajo Mts, 15 Mar 2003, Rutman 2003-340 (ORPI).
Sonora: Banori, Altar Dist., 15 Feb 1938, Gentry 3540.
Figure 2. Boechera perennans. (A) Arch Canyon, 29 Feb 2009. (B) Woods Canyon, S of Sedona, Yavapai
Co., 26 Feb 2005, photo by Max Licher (SEINet).
*Brassica – Mustard; mostaza
Cool-season ephemerals with yellow flowers and slender, dehiscent fruits (those in the flora
area). Molecular phylogenetic studies have revealed that the genus Brassica is not monophyletic and
the generic boundary will need revising (Warwick & Sauder 2005).
Native to the Old World (B. kaber may be an exception), widely cultivated and introduced
worldwide; includes cabbage, canola, cole, mustard, and turnip; 43 species.
1. Flowers pale yellow, the petals 6–8 mm long; fruits 3.5–7 cm long, widely spreading, the beak 10–
20 mm long……………………………………………………...……………… Brassica tournefortii
1. Flowers bright yellow, the petals usually 8 or more mm long; fruits less than 2.5 cm long, erect and
appressed to the flowering stem (rachis), the beak 1–6 mm long.
Felger et al.: Southwestern Arizona flora, Brassicaceae and Burseraceae
2. Outer pair of sepals with a callus (thickening) near the tip; fruit valves each with 3–7 veins, the
lateral veins conspicuous (need mature fruits).………………….……..………..… Brassica kaber
2. Outer pair of sepals without a callus; fruit valves each with 1 prominent midvein, the lateral
veins inconspicuous……………...…………………………………………….…… Brassica nigra
**Brassica kaber (de Candolle) L.C. Wheeler
[Sinapis arvensis Linnaeus; S. kaber de Candolle. Not Brassica arvensis Linnaeus; B. arvensis
Rabenhorst is illegitimate]
Charlock. Figure 3.
Figure 3. Brassica kaber. (A, C & D) Mex Hwy 2 at Los Vidrios, Sonora, 5 Mar 2014. (B) Merced River,
Briceburg, Mariposa Co., CA, 21 Mar 2009, photo © by Barry Breckling (CalPhotos).
Cool-season ephemerals, 0.5–1.5+ m tall, the lower part of the plant often with coarse hairs
(hispid). Basal leaves obovate, oblong, or lanceolate, (8.5) 25–50+ cm long, (3.5) 15–27 cm wide,
and lyrate, pinnatifid or sometimes undivided; upper (cauline) leaves with coarsely toothed margins
and often simple. Sepals, petals, stamens, and young ovary yellow, the petals uniformly bright
yellow, 8–12 (17) mm long, the blade broadly obovate, the claw slender. Fruiting pedicels ascending,
3–7 mm long. Fruits linear, terete, 1.5–5.7 cm × 1.5–4.3 mm; ovules (4) 8–16 (24) per ovary.
Common farm weed and sometimes along roadsides near the flora area in southern Arizona
and northwestern Sonora; not known from the flora area but occasional plants might be expected
Felger et al.: Southwestern Arizona flora, Brassicaceae and Burseraceae
along Highway 85. Native to the Mediterranean region, and non-native, weedy, and widespread in
North America and elsewhere in the world. Also reported to be in the northeastern United States
8000 years ago, suggesting it originally had a semi-circumboreal distribution (Jacobson et al. 1988;
Warwick 2010). Brassica kaber is easily confused with B. nigra and they are difficult to tell apart
without mature fruits, or sometimes even with mature fruits.
Maricopa Co: 10–15 mi W of Gila Bend on I-8 and 0.8 mi E of Paloma Rd, roadside by agricultural
fields, locally abundant weed to about 4 ft. high, 3 Mar 2001, Salywon 980 (ASU).
Pinal Co: Junction of I-8 and Bianco Rd, ca. 5 mi SW of Casa Grande, roadside, 100% cover of
Brassica, Erodium cicutarium, and other weedy ephemerals, 25 Feb 1993, Felger 93-28 (ARIZ, ASU).
Yuma Co: Yuma mesa, Vince Roth 30 June 1957 (det. B. tournefortii by C.T. Mason 1985; det. S.
arvensis by Suzanne I. Warwick 1995).
**Brassica nigra (Linnaeus) W.D.J. Koch
[Sinapis nigra Linnaeus]
Black mustard; mostaza negra. Figure 4.
Figure 4. Brassica nigra. (A & B) Sedona, Yavapai Co., 2 May 2005, photos by Max Licher (SEINet).
(C) Hercules, Contra Costa Co., CA, Jun 2009, photo © by Zoya Akulova (CalPhotos).
Plants sparsely pubescent with soft hairs or glabrate; reaching 50–100 cm tall, with spreading
flowering branches. Basal rosette leaves 8–30 (50) cm long, the stem leaves reduced upwards; leaves
variable, similar to those of B. tournefortii but usually greener and with broader lobes. Flowers bright
yellow and showy. Sepals 10 mm long. Petals clawed, 15–24 × 7+ mm, the veins inconspicuous on
fresh flowers, dark and conspicuous when dried. Fruiting racemes often 20–40 cm long. Fruits erect
and appressed, 20–22 mm long, more or less 4-angled, the beak seedless, about ¾ as long as the body;
fruiting pedicels 3–4.5+ mm long. Seeds globose, ca. 2 mm in diameter, not mucilaginous when wet.
Occasional in disturbed habitats including roadsides and parking lots; not established in the
flora area. Usually blooming in April after most native ephemerals.
Felger et al.: Southwestern Arizona flora, Brassicaceae and Burseraceae
A worldwide weed, native to Eurasia, and also cultivated as a mustard condiment. Present in
Arizona at least since 1884.
OP: Alamo Wash-Sonoyta road, 22 Apr 1941, Supernaugh 6 (ORPI). Hwy 85, 2.5 mi S of Eagle Pass,
7 Apr 2003, Rutman 2003-449.
*Brassica tournefortii Gouan
[B. tournefortii var. dasycarpa O.E. Schulz; B. t.ournefortii forma dentata O.E. Schulz; B.
tournefortii var. leiocarpa Marie & Weiller; B. tournefortii var. recurvata Bornmüller; B. tournefortii
var. sisymbrioides Fischer ex de Candolle]
Sahara mustard; mostaza. Figure 5.
Coarse ephemerals, with a well-developed taproot, highly variable in size, the plants as small
as 15 cm tall when drought stressed, or sometimes reaching 1.2 m tall on dunes; stems simple to
many-branched above. Lower part of plant densely hirsute with coarse, rough, white hairs, especially
the lower leaf surfaces along the midrib, veins, and margins; glabrescent distally. When dry and dead
these large plants break off at the root and may become tumbleweeds. Leaves of basal rosettes (8)
15–30 (80+) cm long, petioled, pinnatifid with the terminal lobe usually largest (lyrate-pinnatifid), or
leaves of stunted plants often obovate and merely toothed; cauline (stem) leaves usually greatly
reduced upwards.
Flowers selfing (autogamous). Sepals 3.5–4 mm long, pale, almost translucent, purplebrown, slightly swollen basally. Petals, stamens, and stigma pale yellow, often becoming whitish
with age. Petals 4–8 mm long; corolla bilaterally symmetrical (unlike most other mustards, the petals
are not at right angles to one another: two of the opposite angles are less than 90o and two are much
more than 90o). Stamens at the same height as, and touching, the stigma (this contact between the
stamens and the stigma occurs during flowering, indicating a self-pollinating reproductive strategy;
e.g. Hinata et al. 1974 and Van Devender et al. 1997). Fruiting pedicels (6) 12–16 (22) mm,
spreading to ascending. Fruits cylindric and torulose, 3–7 × 2–4 (5) cm, with a stout beak 11–20 mm
long and 1 (2)-seeded. Seeds 1.3 mm in diameter, rounded, reddish brown, mucilaginous when wet.
Seeds often germinate with fall rains, before the seeds of most native desert annuals germinate.
When fully dry, the siliques can pop open with the touch of finger, and presumably when rattled by
the wind. Many, however, just sit there on the plant, and need to roll around in the sand to open.
Widespread invasive weed in lowland disturbed and natural desert habitats across the flora
area, especially on sandy soils and washes, but also on rocky slopes (Felger 1990). During favorable
years it makes up a significant part of the plant cover on the dunes and sand hummocks of the Pinta
Sands. The broad, spreading basal rosette leaves can effectively prevent the establishment of other
cool-season ephemerals. Plants on sandy soils with sufficient soil moisture may grow to more than
1–1.5 meters across, making this species the largest herbaceous rosette plant in the region (Felger
2000: 186). Autogamy, together with the plasticity in plant size and early germination, undoubtedly
contribute to the success of Sahara mustard in the Sonoran Desert and elsewhere.
On 28 March 2010, Richard Laugharn and Felger were in the miniature mesquite thicket in
the Lechuguilla Valley where the Camino del Diablo crosses Coyote Wash and Felger made the
following observations: “Much of the ground is now 100% covered by Brassica tournefortii of
incredible size variation, but each local niche or micro-habitat of Brassica generally has plants of the
same size—some very crowded stands consist of dwarfed plants, some reproducing with only a single
fruit of 3–7 seeds, the lower stem leaves 1–several cm long, and basal rosette leaves often only 1–3 or
sometimes not developing, the stems extremely slender and the plants 8.7–11.4 and more cm in
height. Other, less crowded, robust plants have rosette leaves more than 30 cm long. Obviously
Felger et al.: Southwestern Arizona flora, Brassicaceae and Burseraceae
B. tournefortii is changing the cool-season species diversity in this habitat. The soil is still damp
from the last rains and where the ground is not covered by ephemerals there is a continuous blackish
surface of biological soil crust that includes cyanobacteria.”
Figure 5. Brassica tournefortii. Dunes, 22 mi SW of Sonoyta on Mex Hwy 8, Sonora: (A) 3 Mar 2008; (C, E
& F) 6 Feb 2014. (B & D) Alamo Wash, 29 Jan 2014.
Native to the Old World, probably North Africa and Central Asia, this species has become
established in many warm, arid regions of the world. It has spread almost explosively across the
Sonoran Desert, especially in sandy soil habitats. Sahara mustard is one of the most seriously
invasive species in the flora region (Guertin 2003 provides an excellent summary of related
information). Sahara mustard has also spread to Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Texas, and northern
Felger et al.: Southwestern Arizona flora, Brassicaceae and Burseraceae
Mexico, as well other parts of the world such as Australia where it has become invasive. It was first
reported from southeastern California by Jepson (1923–1924), apparently first collected in North
America at Coachella in Riverside County in 1927, and established in agricultural areas in
southeastern California by 1938. The earliest Arizona specimen is from 1955; Sahara mustard was
collected in northwestern Sonora in 1966; and since at least the 1970s it has become widespread in
the Sonoran Desert Region (Barrows et al. 2009; Dimmitt & Van Devender 2009; Felger 1990, 2000;
Malusa et al. 2003; Van Devender et al. 1997).
Ihsan Al-Shehbaz (pers. com., 17 Dec 2014) wrote, “I do not divide B. tournefortii into
infraspecific taxa based on density of indumentum, and I personally do not see sharp discontinuous
differences in flower size.” However, there are reports of infraspecific variation. For example,
Zohary (1966: 309) reported that in the Middle East, “desert specimens are more densely hispid and
have smaller flowers; they are probably to be classed as a separate subspecies.” René Maire (1965)
included 5 varieties and one forma in the Flora of North Africa, although currently considered as
synonyms (e.g., Warwick 2010). Mark Dimmitt (pers. com. 2014) reported, “The original
introduction of B. tournefortii near Mecca, California, is still present, and looks and behaves
differently from other populations. It is a smaller, more gracile plant found only in disturbed soils
where it is competing with numerous other exotic weeds. I did not see it in undisturbed desert in the
Coachella Valley. The really invasive form is a later introduction with more aggressive traits.” The
USDA North Central Regional Plant Introduction Station in Ames, Iowa, has several accessions of
this species for distribution as an experimental oilseed. However, Marushia (2009) found no
differences between mesic and desert populations of B. tournefortii, but noted that the species has a
more rapid phenology than its congeners (Marushia et al. 2010). Li and Malusa (2014) found that it
has a germination rate (mean > 80%) in the field significantly higher than the native cool season
Minnich and Sanders (2000) report nearly 100% fruit set on most plants and that rain
facilitates the production of a sticky gel (seeds become mucilaginous when wet) covering the seed
capsule, permitting long distance dispersal of the seeds by adhesion to animals, and possibly vehicles.
In Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Sue Rutman has observed entire cohorts of seedlings
killed by freezing temperatures (also see Dhawan et al. 1982). However, the annual frequency of
freezing temperatures in Organ Pipe (and elsewhere in the Sonoran Desert) has been decreasing since
the 1980s (Weiss & Overpeck 2005), perhaps even further facilitating the success of Sahara mustard.
OP: Quitobaquito: 8 Feb 1978, Bowers 1030; 29 Mar 1988, Felger 88-136. Visitor Center, roadside,
16 Feb 1979, Bowers 1566. Cipriano Hills, 20 Mar 2003, Rutman 2003-365 (ORPI).
CP: Charlie Bell Pass, 3 Apr 1992, Whipple 3952. Papago Well, 26 Feb 1993, Felger 93-418. Pinta
Sands, 11 Apr 1993, Felger 93-418.
TA: Tinajas Altas Mts, above the tinajas, 19 Mar 1998, Felger (observation). Camino del Diablo, E of
Raven Butte, 29 Nov 2001, Felger (observation). Coyote Water, 25 Oct 2004, Felger 04-33. Camino del
Diablo at Coyote Wash, 28 Mar 2010, Felger 10-172. Surveyors Canyon, Lamb Tank, 29 Mar 2010, Felger 10197. Canyon below Raven Butte Tank, 29 Mar 2010, Felger 10-242.
Yuma Co.: Near Palm Canyon, Kofa Mountains, 2400 ft, 21 April 1955, Haskell 5058 & C.F. Deaver
(ASC 10855; det. Reed C. Rollins). Yuma Mesa, 1 mi E of Airbase, Hamilton 26 March 1959 (ARIZ 130879;
det. Andrew C. Sanders 2000).
California: Riverside Co.: Coachella, J.B. Feudge 25 Feb 1927 (RSA 1660; det. Andrew C. Sanders).
Native to Eurasia; 5 species.
Felger et al.: Southwestern Arizona flora, Brassicaceae and Burseraceae
**Capsella bursa-pastoris (Linnaeus) Medikus
Shepherd’s purse; hierba del pastor. Figure 6.
Cool-season ephemerals, to 50 cm tall, sparsely to densely pubescent with 3–5-rayed hairs.
Flowers minute, white. Fruits obcordate, strongly compressed (flattened), 0.3–1 cm × 2–9 mm.
About one dozen plants sprang up from discarded hay at a temporary horse pen in the
southwest corner of Cabeza Prieta but did not become established. The nearest record is in the Yuma
region and it is a potential weed in gardens and agricultural fields.
Native to Eurasia and now a worldwide weed.
CP: Bajada of Tordillo Butte, 27 Feb 1993, Felger 93-201.
Yuma Co.: In soil accumulated before first Gray Tank in west branch, Township 2S, Range 19E,
Section 34, 1760 ft, rare at wet tanks, 8 Dec 1985 Russo 246.
Figure 6. Capsella bursa-pastoris. By Lucretia Breazeale Hamilton.
Caulanthus, see Streptanthus
Descurainia – Tansy mustard
Americas, Eurasia, North Africa, and Canary Islands; 35 species.
1. Flowers pale yellow; fruits 3.5–7.2 mm long……………………………….... Descurainia pinnata
1. Flowers yellow; fruits 12–30 mm long…………………………………..…….. Descurainia sophia
Descurainia pinnata (Walter) Britton
Western tansy mustard; pamita; su'uvad. Figure 7.
Cool-season ephemerals, 8–60 cm tall, mostly unbranched to few-branched above, with
branched and candelabra-shaped, soft, white hairs. Stems leafy; early leaves usually in a basal
rosette, these and larger stem leaves (1) 3–7 × (0.4) 2–3 cm, 1–3 times pinnatifid-divided, reduced
Felger et al.: Southwestern Arizona flora, Brassicaceae and Burseraceae
upwards, usually withering as the fruits develop. Fruiting pedicels usually ascending to horizontal, 4–
18 (23) mm long. Inflorescences of racemes (3) 5–32 (45) cm long. Petals pale yellow, 1.5 mm long.
Fruits (3.5) 4–7.2 × 1.2–1.6 mm, narrowly club-shaped; ovules 16–40 per ovary. Seeds reddish
brown, 0.8 mm long, mucilaginous when wet.
Widespread across the flora area, sandy to rocky soils, washes, plains, bajadas, hills, and
mountains. It was in the Butler Mountains more than 10,000 years ago.
Figure 7. Descurainia pinnata. By Lucretia Breazeale Hamilton.
Widespread in North America: Mexico to northern Canada. Four subspecies are sometimes
recognized, two of which range into southwestern Arizona: subsp. glabra (Wooton & Standley)
Detling, not canescent, and subsp. ochroleuca (Wooton) Detling, canescent.
The seeds were widely used for food (Bean & Saubel 1972; Felger et al. 1992; Rea 1997).
Castetter and Underhill (1935: 24) say that it was “the most common [wild] seed crop” of the Tohono
O'odham. Young plants were sometimes boiled as greens or pit-baked by the Quechans (Castetter &
Bell 1951). Substantial quantities of the seeds have been found in Hohokam sites, which led Bohrer
(1986 in Hodgson 2001) to speculate that it was cultivated. It can be a common weed in cultivated
fields, which may have been a source for the Hohokam. The seeds, which become mucilaginous
when wet, were widely esteemed for medicinal purposes (Bean & Saubel 1972; Hodgson 2001).
Among the Hia C-ed O'odham the “seeds [were] used as food and eye medicine (Delores Lewis) or
put in water and drunk for stomach trouble (Philip Salcido)” (Felger et al. 1992: 22–23).
Felger et al.: Southwestern Arizona flora, Brassicaceae and Burseraceae
OP: Alamo Canyon, Nichol 14 Mar 1939. Quitobaquito, 14 Apr 1963, Felger 7655. Near Gachado
Line Camp, 28 Jan 1978, Bowers 1013 (ORPI).
CP: Buckhorn Tank, 27 Feb 1993, Felger 93-184 (CAB). O’Neill Hills, 12 Mar 1993, Harlan 359.
Tule Tank drainage, 23 Mar 1993, Harlan 133 (CAB). Childs Mt, 9 Apr 1993, Felger 93-277.
TA: Frontera Canyon, 18 Mar 1998, Felger (observation). Coyote Water, 21 Feb 2005, Felger 05152. †Butler Mts, fruit, 10,360 ybp.
**Descurainia sophia (Linnaeus) Webb ex Prantl
Figure 8.
Stems upright, single or branched above. Leaves often 3-times dissected into slender lobes.
Fruiting pedicels 5–20 mm long. Flowers yellow, the fruits slender, often 12–25 mm long.
Figure 8. Descurainia sophia. (A & D) Construction site, Hwy 85 at 2 mi S of N boundary of Organ Pipe, 12
May 2010. (B) Silver City, Grant Co., NM, 29 Mar 2009, photo by Russell Kleinman (gilaflora.com).
(C) Valley of Fires Recreation Area, Lincoln Co., NM, 2 Apr 2007, photo by Patrick Alexander.
Found at a construction site along Highway 85 in Organ Pipe and not established in the floral
Widespread weed in North America and elsewhere; native to Eurasia.
OP: Road shoulder of State Route 85, northern 3 mi of highway in Organ Pipe (between milepost 58
and 61), Rutman 4 Jun 2010.
Dimorphocarpa – Spectacle-pod
Southwestern United States and northern Mexico; 4 species.
Felger et al.: Southwestern Arizona flora, Brassicaceae and Burseraceae
Dimorphocarpa pinnatifida Rollins
[Dithyrea wislizeni Engelmann, in part]
Dune spectacle-pod. Figure 9.
Cool-season ephemerals, erect to ascending, sometimes sprawling to more than 1 m across,
gray-green with stellate and candelabra-shaped hairs. Stems leafy. Leaves petioled below, sessile
above, linear to narrowly lanceolate, pinnatifid with widely spaced slender lobes, larger leaves (3.5)
4–18 × 0.7–2.6 cm. Flowers on racemes 9–38 cm long. Fruiting pedicels spreading to slightly
reflexed, 7–22 mm long. Flowers fragrant, attracting butterflies, the petals 5–7 mm long, pure white,
the stigma and anthers yellow (corollas thus appear to have a yellow throat). Fruits of 2 disc-shaped
indehiscent segments, each 5.5–8.2 mm wide and 1-seeded, the fruits turned at an angle to the
pedicel. Seeds disc-like, 2–3.5 mm in diameter. The flowers are smaller and the plants often much
larger than those of Dithyrea californica, the other spectacle-pod in the region. x = 9
Figure 9. Dimorphocarpa pinnatifida. (A) Dunes, 22 mi SW of Sonoyta, Sonora, 6 Feb 2014. (B) By Matilda
Essig. Dunes S of Sierra Blanca, Pinacate Biosphere Reserve, Sonora: (C & D) 15 Feb 2010; (E) 23 Feb 2010.
Felger et al.: Southwestern Arizona flora, Brassicaceae and Burseraceae
Pinta Sands and Mohawk Dunes, and more widespread on dunes in nearby northwestern
Sonora. One plant seen at higher elevation in the Tinajas Altas Mountains and apparently not
Endemic to dunes and adjacent sands in Yuma County, including the Mohawk Dunes, and the
Gran Desierto of northwestern Sonora (Felger 2000; Felger et al. 2003). Related to, and narrowly
allopatric from, the widespread D. wislizeni (Engelmann) Rollins in AZ, CO, NM, NV, UT,
Chihuahua, and Coahuila. Dimorphocarpa pinnatifida can be distinguished from D. wislizeni by
having upper stem leaves pinnately lobed and fruit valves orbicular and rounded apically.
CP: Pinacate Lava Fields, 20 Mar 1933, Shreve 6218. E edge of Pinacate Lava Flow, 17 Apr 1983,
Hodgson H 2081 (DES). 6.6 mi W of O’Neill’s Grave, 18 Feb 1979, Phillips 79-53 (ASU). Pinta Sands: 18
Feb 1979, McLaughlin 1947; 1 Feb 1992, Felger 92-27.
TA: Tinajas Altas, canyon bottom above uppermost tinaja, one large plant seen, no fruit setting, 19
Mar 1998, Felger 98-138.
Dithyrea – Spectacle-pod
Southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico; 2 species.
Dithyrea californica Harvey
[D. californica var. clinata (Macbride & Payson) Wiggins; D. clinata Macbride & Payson]
California spectacle-pod. Figure 10.
Figure 10. Dithyrea californica. (A, B & D) Dunes, 20 mi SW of Sonoyta, Sonora, 27 Mar 2010. (C) Dunes S
of Sierra Blanca, Sonora, 15 Feb 2014.
Felger et al.: Southwestern Arizona flora, Brassicaceae and Burseraceae
Cool-season ephemerals. Stems 15–50 cm tall, mostly branching from the base. Herbage
with slender-rayed, candelabra-shaped white hairs. Leaves semi-succulent when young, basal rosette
and lower leaves with large, broad, coarse teeth or lobes, 4.5–15.5 cm long, petioled, more or less
oblanceolate to oblong, the upper leaves sessile, ovate to broadly oblong. Fruiting pedicels 1.5–2.5
mm long. Flowers highly fragrant, the petals 10–12 mm long, cream-white, strap-shaped, partially
recurved, twisted, and crenulate (wavy). Fruits spectacle-shaped, of 2 halves (valves), each half 4.5–
6.5 mm wide, indehiscent, orbicular to slightly wider than long, strongly flattened, and 1-seeded, with
simple, thickened (sac-like or vesicular) hairs especially dense on the cord-like margin. Seeds 3–4 ×
1.5–2.5 mm.
Sand flats and dunes, and sand soils in the Pinacate Lava in the southern part of Cabeza
Prieta, especially the Pinta Sands.
Sonoran and Mojave Deserts in northwestern Sonora, western Arizona, southeastern
California, southern Nevada, and both Baja California states. Distinguished in part from
Dimorphocarpa (the other spectacle pod) by having a chromosome number based on x = 10, coarser
leaf lobes, stouter and shorter pedicels, and larger flowers.
CP: Pinacate Plateau, Goodding 29 Nov1938. Monument 182, Monson 7 Feb 1958. W edge of sands
W of Pinacate Lava, 17 Jan 1964, Simmons 12. Pinta Sands: 10 Apr 1978, Reeves 6793 (ASU); 1 Feb 1992,
Felger 92-28. San Cristobal Valley, 11 Mar 1998, Anderson 98-36 (ASU).
TA: Butler Mts, Van Devender 27 Mar 1983.
Draba cuneifolia, see Tomostima cuneifolia
This genus has a single species.
*Eruca vesicaria (Linnaeus) Cavanilles subsp. sativa (Miller) Thellung
[E. sativa Miller; Brassica eruca Linnaeus]
Garden rocket, salad rocket, arugula. Figure 11.
Cool-season ephemerals (15) 50–70+ cm tall, with simple white hairs. Early leaves in a basal
rosette, 6–20+ × 3–10+ cm, pinnately lobed. Flowers on erect stalks, the petals to 17 mm long, pale
yellow often fading to white, and with purple veins, narrowed at base (clawed). Fruiting pedicels
4.5–6.7 mm long, erect; fruits terete and rather stout, longer than wide, erect, and dehiscent; fruit
body 17–20 (40) × 2.5–5 mm, with a prominent flattened, seedless beak 6–7 mm long. Seeds pale or
grayish brown, mucilaginous when wet.
Common in areas to the north and south of flora area and found as occasional waifs in Organ
Pipe where it is likely to spread.
Widely naturalized in southwestern Arizona, mostly but not exclusively near roads;
especially abundant during El Niño years when it can blanket the desert along I–8 and adjacent areas
from Gila Bend to Wellton. It is likewise common during wet winters in the Sonoyta and San Luis
regions of northwestern Sonora. However, in 2014 it was still not established at Ajo.
Native to the Mediterranean region, now widespread and weedy from Canada to southern
Mexico and many regions worldwide. It has been in Arizona since at least the early 20th century.
Cultivated arugula is a popular salad green and has been cultivated since ancient times, including by
the Greeks and Romans. The seed oil is used for cooking, as animal food, as an industrial lubricant,
and for cosmetics and medicinal purposes (Al-Shehbaz 1985; Warwick 2010).
Felger et al.: Southwestern Arizona flora, Brassicaceae and Burseraceae
Figure 11. Eruca vesicaria ssp. sativa. Gila Bend, Maricopa Co.: (A) 4 Apr 2002; (B, C & E) Mar 2005.
(D) Cinder hills, Sentinel Plain, Maricopa Co., 17 Jan 2005.
OP: Bates Well Rd, 1 mi S of N boundary of Monument, UTM 319371, 3562940, 1493 ft, two plants
occurred on the berm of the road, in disturbed soil, Conner 16 Feb 2005.
Erysimum – Wallflower
North America to Central America, Eurasia, North Africa, and Atlantic islands; 200 species.
Erysimum capitatum (Douglas ex Hooker) Greene
[E. capitatum var. purshii (Durand) Rollins]
Western wallflower. Figure 12.
Cool-season ephemerals, or perhaps short-lived perennials, usually tall and slender. Leaves
linear to oblanceolate, 2–18+ cm long, with 2–4 (7)-rayed hairs, the margins entire or toothed.
Fruiting pedicels spreading to ascending, narrower than the fruit, 4–17 (25) mm long. Flowers
Felger et al.: Southwestern Arizona flora, Brassicaceae and Burseraceae
showy, the petals yellow, 15–25 mm long. Fruits 4–10 cm long, 1–2 mm wide, 4-angled to slightly
flattened; ovules (40) 50–82 per ovary.
Figure 12. Erysimum capitatum. (A) Wilson Canyon, N of Sedona, Coconino Co., 3 Mar 2004, photo by Max
Licher (SEINet). (B) Pancho Canyon, Burro Mts, Grant Co., NM, 7 Nov 2008, photo by Russell Kleinman
(gilaflora.com). (C) Bluff Spring, Sacramento Mountains, Otero Co., NM, 16 Jun 2007, photo by Patrick
Alexander. (D) Seeds and silique, Pinos Altos, Grant Co., NM, 8 Feb 2009, photo by Russell Kleinman
Known in flora area from a single record in the Ajo Mountains. The specimen has T-shaped
(2-armed) hairs on the leaves, aligning it with var. purshii, although the varieties are probably not
worthy of recognition.
A morphologically diverse and widespread species in non-desert regions of Arizona and
generally absent from the Sonoran Desert. North America from Alaska to central Mexico.
OP: Alamo Canyon, Tinkham 15 Apr 1942.
Perennials or subshrubs. Western United States and northern Mexico; 5 species.
Hesperidanthus linearifolius (A. Gray) Rydberg
[Schoenocrambe linearifolia (A. Gray) Rollins; Sisymbrium linearifolium (A. Gray) Payson;
Thelypodiopsis linearifolia (A. Gray) Al-Shehbaz]
Purple rock-mustard. Figure 13.
Felger et al.: Southwestern Arizona flora, Brassicaceae and Burseraceae
Glabrous, erect perennials to more than 2 m tall from a caudex. The stem leaves linear to
lanceolate, 2.5–10 (15) cm long, entire or nearly so and relatively thick. Petals purple, with age
becoming white, 12–16+ mm long. Flowering February to May and after summer rains in August
and September. Fruiting pedicels spreading to ascending, 5–25 mm long. Fruits 4–10 cm long, 1–1.5
mm wide, terete, not constricted between seeds; ovules 76–110 per ovary.
Figure 13. Hesperidanthus linearifolius. Estes Canyon, Bull Pasture Trail: (A) 7 Mar 2014; (B) 27 Feb 2014.
(C) Allie Canyon near Mimbres, Pinos Altos Mts, NM, 8 Sep 2010, photo by Russell Kleinman (gilaflora.com).
Widespread in the Ajo Mountains above 730 m and higher elevations in the Puerto Blanco
Arizona and Sonora at elevations generally above the desert, to Colorado, Texas, and
northern mainland Mexico to San Luis Potosí, Durango, and Zacatecas.
OP: Alamo Canyon, Nichol 4 May 1939. Arch Canyon, 28 Mar 1965, Niles 539. Grass Canyon, 26
Feb 1978, Bowers 1090. Rare in shady spots on upper slopes of Puerto Blanco Mts, NW of Pinkley Peak, 2500
ft, Rutman 24 Mar 2001 (ORPI). Trail from The Cones to Mount Ajo, 4025 ft, 10 Apr 2005, Felger 05-274.
Felger et al.: Southwestern Arizona flora, Brassicaceae and Burseraceae
Lepidium – Peppergrass, pepperwort, cress, peppercress; lentejilla
Cool-season ephemerals, glabrous or with simple hairs. Flowers small, with white petals,
these often reduced or the petals might be absent and the flowers selfing (autogamous). Fruits small
and disc-shaped. Seeds highly mucilaginous when wet.
The herbage, flowers and fruits have a sharp, pepper- or chili-like flavor and can be used as a
condiment. Nearly worldwide; 250 species.
1. Pedicels terete and slender; petals 2–3 mm long, white and conspicuous, not quickly deciduous, as
large or larger than the sepals; stamens 6; styles longer than the apical fruit margin.
…………………………………………………………………………………….. Lepidium thurberi
1. Pedicels moderately to strongly flattened; petals less than 1.5 mm long, whitish but rather
inconspicuous, quickly deciduous, smaller and thinner than the sepals, or rudimentary or sometimes
absent; stamens mostly 2 with additional rudimentary stamens (4 or 6 stamens sometimes present);
stigma sessile or nearly so, or the styles short and not exceeding the apical fruit margin (see notes
farther on).
2. Fruiting pedicels strongly flattened, usually pubescent on both the upper and lower surfaces;
sepals usually quickly deciduous; fruits usually pubescent, sometimes only on the margins, the
apical notch 0.2–0.7 mm deep………………………………………….…. Lepidium lasiocarpum
2. Fruiting pedicels only slightly flattened, pubescent on the upper surfaces, glabrous on the lower
surfaces; sepals tardily deciduous to somewhat persistent; fruits usually glabrous, the apical notch
0.2–0.3 mm deep…………………………………………………………..… Lepidium oblongum
Lepidium lasiocarpum Nuttall ex Torrey & A. Gray
[L. lasiocarpum var. georginum C.L. Hitchcock]
Sand peppergrass; lentejilla; ka:kowani. Figure 14.
Plants hirsute or hispid, 5–20 (40) cm, larger plants much-branched. Early leaves in a basal
rosette, 2.5–6+ cm long, oblanceolate, bipinnatifid, quickly withering as stems develop; stem leaves
smaller. Racemes mostly 2–10+ cm long, often crowded on larger plants. Fruiting pedicels
conspicuously flattened (even on buds), usually pubescent on both the upper and lower surfaces.
Flowers inconspicuous, probably mainly autogamous (selfing); sepals 1–1.5 mm long; petals white,
quickly deciduous, smaller and thinner than the sepals, rudimentary, or sometimes absent; stamens 2
(4 or 6; abortive stamens often present on flowers with fewer than 6 stamens). Fruits nearly orbicular,
strongly compressed (flattened), 3–4 mm long, notched at the apex, producing a relatively deep sinus
with an essentially sessile stigma at its base, which seems to be a reliable key character.
One of the most common and widespread winter-spring ephemerals, mostly in washes and
flats, and less common on rocky slopes. It has been in the region for at least 10,400 years.
Southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico.
The herbage of this and other species in the genus has been used in many places as a spicy
condiment, hence the name “pepper grass,” and as cooked greens or for salads (Hodgson 2001; Uphof
1968). The Seris used it for the chili-like flavor (Felger & Moser 1985). Chew on the fresh herbage
or dry fruits and seeds and you will get a pleasantly sharp chili flavor.
The plants are highly variable depending on factors such soil moisture, shading, and stage of
development. Young, vigorous plants can be very leafy, while older or drought-stressed plants are
leafless or nearly so, and there is likewise much variation in pubescence, size and/or number of petals,
and number of stamens. The flowers are autogamous but perhaps not always, especially with
Felger et al.: Southwestern Arizona flora, Brassicaceae and Burseraceae
favorable conditions. This variation seems to have led to problems in identification. Rollins (1993)
recognizes four varieties and Al-Shehbaz and Gaskin (2010) recognize 3 subspecies, but the varieties
seem only weakly differentiated and not worthy of recognition.
Figure 14. Lepidium lasiocarpum. (A) Ajo, 25 Mar 2013. (B) Alamo Canyon, 26 Feb 2014. (C & D)
Engineer Canyon, Burro Mts, Grant Co., NM, 17 Mar 2010, photos by Russell Kleinman (gilaflora.com). (E)
East of Tinajas Altas, 2 Mar 2014, photo by Sue Carnahan.
We are unable to realistically distinguish Lepidium densiflorum Schrader from L.
lasiocarpum. These plants are often autogamous and polyploids of hybrid origin can be weakly
differentiated, or sometime well differentiated. Environmental factors may also play a role in the
confusing array of variability. Some populations that might be placed with L. densiflorum appear
morphologically intermediate with between L. lasiocarpum and L. virginicum Linnaeus, raising the
speculation that the plants might be of hybrid origin. Lepidium virginicum is widespread and occurs
in Arizona east of the flora area.
Felger et al.: Southwestern Arizona flora, Brassicaceae and Burseraceae
We have been struggling with aspects of northern Mexico and southern Arizona Lepidium
taxonomy for some time. A paragraph from Hitchcock’s article (1945: 133) echoes what we have
found in trying to figure out this taxonomic tangle:
In general, L. lasiocarpum can be recognized from our other species because of the
pubescent fruits, stiff pubescence, and flattened pedicels. However, the species is
apparently in an extremely unstable condition, and great variation is to be found in every
attribute, which has been thought to characterize it. Especially is this true in Mexico where
it simulates or actually merges with such apparently different species as virginicum (var.
pubescens), densiflorum, dictyotum, and oblongum, the evidence indicating that this is due
in part, at least, to hybridization.
We agree with Hitchcock and what can, for the most part, be sorted out in Arizona falls to
pieces in Mexico. For example, when you look at specimens variously identified as L. densiflorum,
L. lasiocarpum, and/or L. virginicum you find every conceivable intermediate between all of them, so
that separation is only artificial along a continuum. What makes this problem irritating from a
taxonomic point of view makes it interesting from an ecological and evolutionary standpoint. We
might ask: What is the distinction here between “hybridization” and points on a continuum of
intergrading variation?
OP: Growler Valley, 20 Mar 1933, Shreve 6203. Canyon Diablo, 21 Mar 1935, Kearney 10826.
Puerto Blanco Mts, Nichol 25 Feb 1939. Alamo Canyon, 14 Mar 1941, Benson 10674; 23 Mar 1941,
McDougall 22. Dripping Springs, 28 Jan 1978, Bowers 1018. Arch Canyon, 3050 ft, 25 Feb 1978, Bowers
1063. Gachado Line Camp, 28 Jan 1978, Bowers 1014. Quitobaquito, 14 Apr 1963, Felger 7679. †Alamo
Canyon, fruits, one with a flattened pedicel, 8130 ybp.
CP: Charlie Bell Well, Johnson 26 Mar 1960. 12 mi N of Christmas Pass, 13 Apr 1992, Harlan 261.
Pinta Sands, 11 Apr 1993, Felger 93-426. San Cristobal Wash, 20 Mar 1992, Harlan 14.
TA: Tinajas Altas, wash floor above tanks, Van Devender 10 Mar 1980. Coyote Water, 21 Feb 2005,
Felger 05-130. †Butler Mts, fruits with flattened pedicels, seeds, 8160 & 10,360 ybp.
Lepidium oblongum Small
Veiny pepperweed
Annuals, hirsute. Stems usually several from base, ascending, erect, to decumbent, to 30 cm
long. Basal leaves not rosette forming, petiolate, once to twice pinnatifid, to 3.5 cm long. Fruiting
pedicels 2–3.5 (5) mm long, pubescent on the upper surfaces, glabrous on the lower surfaces.
Flowers inconspicuous, probably mainly autogamous, the sepals tardily deciduous to somewhat
persistent, ca. 1 mm long, the petals absent or rudimentary, the stamens 2, the anthers minute. Fruits
strongly compressed (flattened), orbicular, 2.2–3.5 × 2–3 mm, the style essentially sessile and
included in the apical notch.
In the flora area known from Quitobaquito and Gunsight when both places were occupied.
California to Alabama, Mexico to Central America; washes, roadsides and other disturbed
areas. Easily confused with, but less common than Lepidium lasiocarpum, with which it sometimes
grows sympatrically and may hybridize.
OP: Quitobaquito, 17 Mar 1945, Darrow 2406.
Pima Co.: Gunsight, 3 mi E of Organ Pipe Cactus Nat. Mon., 14 Mar 1941, Benson 10645.
Felger et al.: Southwestern Arizona flora, Brassicaceae and Burseraceae
Lepidium thurberi Wooton
Arizona peppergrass. Figure 15.
Ephemerals or annuals, often from one stem and branched above, pubescent with white hairs
to 1 mm long. Basal leaves in a rosette, often withered by flowering time, to 15 cm long, the blade
pinnatifid with toothed-sinuate margins. Fruiting pedicels slender and terete, ascending to horizontal,
4–10 mm long. Flowers attractive, the petals white, 3–4 mm long; stamens 6. Fruits strongly
compressed (flattened), glabrous, ovate to orbicular, 2–2.9 × 2–2.8 mm, the style 0.3–0.8 mm long,
extending beyond the apical notch.
Figure 15. Lepidium thurberi. Newby Road, Burro Mts, Grant Co., NM, 7 Jun 2009, photos by Russell
Kleinman (gilaflora.com).
Northern part of Organ Pipe, and perhaps the eastern margin of Cabeza Prieta near Jose Juan
Hill. The seeds were eaten in the Tohono O’odham Region (Castetter & Underhill 1935).
California to New Mexico, Sonora, Chihuahua, and Coahuila.
OP: Near Bates Well, 25 Mar 1941, McDougall 32. Organ Pipe, Walden 19 Apr 1964. Cuerda de
Leña Wash at N boundary, 31 Mar 1978, Bowers 1158. Jose Juan Hill, Jackson? 7 Mar 1986 (ORPI).
†Lepidium sp./spp.
One or more members of this genus have been in the flora area for more than 18,700 years.
OP: †Puerto Blanco Mts, 980 to 10,540 ybp (4 samples).
TA: †Butler Mts, fruit (shaped like that of L. lasiocarpum), 11,250 ybp. Tinajas Altas, fruits, seeds,
8700 to 18,700 ybp (5 samples).
Southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico; 3 species.
Felger et al.: Southwestern Arizona flora, Brassicaceae and Burseraceae
Lyrocarpa coulteri Hooker & Harvey
Lyre-pod; ban censañig. Figure 16.
Weak-stemmed herbaceous perennials, sometimes flowering in the first season; with stellate
or candelabra-shaped hairs. Growing and flowering at various seasons with sufficient moisture.
Stems slender and brittle, often 30–75 cm long. Leaves petioled, variable depending on shading, soil
moisture, and position on stem, the blades thinner during wet periods, mostly 2.5–7 (11) cm long,
pinnately lobed to deeply divided, mostly with (2) 3 (4) pairs of major segments. Flowers on racemes
(4) 7–45 cm long; petals often twisted, linear-attenuate, extending 12–20 mm beyond the calyx,
yellow-green, or yellow-brown to purple-brown, becoming darker with age. Fruits 10–28 × 8–14
mm, highly variable, broadly eliptic, obovate, or lyre-shaped, green, compressed but relatively thick,
usually notched and widest at top. Seeds not mucilaginous.
Figure 16. Lyrocarpa coulteri. Estes Canyon: (A) 3 Apr 2010; (B) 30 Jan 2014; (C & D) 29 Feb 2008;
(E) 16 Feb 2005.
The flowers are especially fragrant at night. Walking up Eagle Tank Arroyo in Cabeza Prieta
at 9:30 p.m. on 26 February 1993, every so often Felger caught a whiff of a strong, strange, sweet
fragrance. Up close it was even stronger, like banana esters, and came from perennial mounds of
Lyrocarpa lining the arroyo bank.
Felger et al.: Southwestern Arizona flora, Brassicaceae and Burseraceae
Widespread across the flora area; often growing in the protection of large rocks and beneath
shrubs and desert trees such as Olneya; washes, canyons, gravelly bajadas, and rocky slopes of hills
and mountains.
Southern Arizona, southeastern California, western Sonora southward to the vicinity of
Guaymas and both states of Baja California.
Lyrocarpa is the only perennial as well as non-seasonal (flowering and growth response)
member of the mustard family that extends into the drier areas of the Sonoran Desert. Lyrocarpa
coulteri seems to be closely related to L. linearifolia Rollins of islands in the Gulf of California.
OP: Alamo Canyon, Nichol 14 Mar 1939. Bates Well, 5 Mar 1940, Benson 9911. Dripping Springs,
16 Apr 1952, Parker 7914. Aguajita, 6 Apr 1988, Felger 88-277.
CP: Pinacate Flats, 3 Dec 1935, Goodding 1554. Papago Well region, 13 Feb 1942, Goodding 9-42.
Near Agua Dulce Pass, Simmons 13 Apr 1964 (CAB). Christmas Pass, Van Devender 9 Mar 1980. N side of
Tule Mts, 2 Feb 1992, Felger 92-48.
TA: Tinajas Altas: 29 Mar 1930, Harrison 6563; Van Devender 36 Mar 1983.
Native to the Old World; 50 species.
**Matthiola longipetala (Ventenat) de Candolle
[M. bicornis (Sibthorp & Smith) de Candolle]
Night-scented stock. Figure 17.
Figure 17. Matthiola longipetala. Hwy 85 near Three Points (Robles Junction), Pima Co., 2 Apr 2005.
Felger et al.: Southwestern Arizona flora, Brassicaceae and Burseraceae
Ephemerals with branched hairs. The first leaves not forming a basal rosette. Flowers pink
and highly fragrant, especially fragrant at night; petals 15–20+ mm long. Fruits slender and straight,
often more than 5 cm long.
Documented in Organ Pipe in the residence area, from a wildflower seed mix, and a single
observation that same year on Hwy 85 about 200 meters north of the entrance to the visitor center,
and doubtfully established. This species is a beautiful garden plant that produces prolific seed and
easily escapes/spreads given suitable rainfall.
Native to Eurasia and sporadically established in North America as far north as Canada, and
often cultivated.
OP: Residence area near visitor center, growing from a wildflower seed mix, Rutman 27 Apr 2005.
*Nasturtium – Watercress
North America to Central America, Eurasia, and north Africa; 5 species.
**Nasturtium officinale W.T. Aiton
[Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum (Linnaeus) Hayek]
Watercress; berro. Figure 18.
Perennial herbs; probably emergent from shallow water, at Dripping Springs and Williams
Spring and no longer present in the flora area. Watercress was probably planted at these springs.
Figure 18. Nasturtium officinale. (A) Harshaw Creek, Santa Cruz Co., 26 May 2013, photo by Tom Van
Devender. (B) Gold Gulch Spring, Burro Mts, Grant Co., NM, 10 Apr 2009, photo by Russell Kleinman
The plants at Dripping Springs were destroyed by the multitudes of illegal border crossers in
the latter part of the 20th century. The Williams Spring watercress died out probably sometime
before the mid-20th century (Felger et al. 1992).
Native to the Old World; temperate and subtropical regions worldwide and widely cultivated;
naturalized in many southern Arizona and northern Sonora streams.
Felger et al.: Southwestern Arizona flora, Brassicaceae and Burseraceae
OP: Bobby Gray (in Hoy 1970) reported that in the late nineteenth century watercress grew at
Williams Spring; Henry Gray (interviewed by Joyce Kelso in 1975, a National Park Service employee; on file at
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument) in talking about watercress at Dripping Springs said, “It was awful
good. . . I’d eat a lot of it.”
Physaria – Bladderpod
North America and southern South America, and northeast Russia; 106 species.
Physaria tenella (A. Nelson) O’Kane & Al-Shehbaz
[Lesquerella tenella A. Nelson]
Desert bladderpod. Figure 19.
Cool-season ephemerals, silvery green from a covering of stellate hairs that are spectacular
under high magnification. Stems mostly 15–60 cm long. Basal-rosette leaves and lower stem leaves
often 3–9 cm long, petioled, the blades narrowly elliptic to obovate. Fruiting pedicels S-shaped, often
(10) 15–18 mm long. Flowers in racemes (3) 9–20 cm long, the flowers bright yellow, the petals 8–
10+ mm long. Fruits globose and bladder-like, 3.5–4.8 mm wide; ovaries and fruits with small stellate
hairs on the surface. Seeds flattened, the margin a thickened, cord-like rim or narrow wing;
mucilaginous when wet, especially from the rim margin.
Figure 19. Physaria tenella. (A) By Lucretia Breazeale Hamilton. (B & C) Hwy 86 W of Robles Junction,
Pima Co., 22 Feb 2014. (D) Bajada W of Ajo Mts, 2 Mar 2008.
Felger et al.: Southwestern Arizona flora, Brassicaceae and Burseraceae
Widespread, especially at lower elevations; washes, sand flats, valley plains, and mountains,
often growing in the protection of small shrubs. In favorable years carpeting the desert with yellow.
Southwestern Utah, southern Nevada, southeastern California, western and southern Arizona,
northern Sonora, and Baja California.
OP: Tres Alamos Canyon, 2700 ft, Nichol 24 Feb 1939. 5 mi N of Sonoyta, 22 Mar 1941, McDougall
15. 6 mi E of Hwy 85 on Camino Dos Republicas, 11 Feb 1978, Bowers 1040. Puerto Blanco Mts, 30 Mar
1980, Stimson 204.
CP: N side of Tule Mts, 2 Feb 1992, Felger 92-60. Charlie Bell Pass, 3 Apr 1992, Whipple 3919.
Childs Mt, 25 Feb 1993, Felger 93-33. 2 mi NW of Christmas Pass, Rutman 18 Feb 2002.
TA: Tinajas Altas, Van Devender 5 Mar 1983. Tinajas Altas canyon above uppermost tinaja, 19 Mar
1998, Felger (observation). Coyote Water, 25 Oct 2004, Felger 04-58.
This genus has two species. Planodes mexicana (S. Watson) Al-Shehbaz occurs in southern
Planodes virginicum (Linnaeus) Greene
[Sibara virginica (Linnaeus) Rollins]
Virginia winged rockcress. Figure 20.
Pubescent or glabrous, cool season ephemerals, the stems erect or ascending to decumbent.
Basal leaves in a loose rosette, persistent, the blades pinnatifid to pinnatisect with (4) 6–12 (15) lobes
per side. Cauline leaves similar to the basal leaves, but smaller. Fruiting pedicels 1.5–6 (8) mm long.
Flowers 2–3 mm long, white. Fruits divaricate-ascending, (1) 1.5–2.5 (3.2) mm long, 1–1.5 mm
wide. Seeds winged.
Figure 20. Planodes virginicum. Floodplain of Santa Cruz River, San Rafael State Park, Santa Cruz Co., 20
Apr 2001, McLaughlin 9249 (ASU).
Felger et al.: Southwestern Arizona flora, Brassicaceae and Burseraceae
The Las Playas collection is the only known record for this species within the Sonoran
Widespread and often weedy across the United States and in Baja California, and expected in
parts of northern Sonora.
CP: Las Playas, S end, 1 Mar 1998, Harlan 495.
Sibara – Winged rockcress
Southwest United States and northern Mexico; 13 species. The one species in the flora area,
known from only a single specimen, is a notable extralimital record. Seeds not mucilaginous when
Sibara angelorum (S. Watson) Greene
Figure 21.
Glabrous spring ephemerals to 70 cm high, single-stemmed and branched above. Leaves
pinnate with linear segments, the basal leaves usually withering by the time the plants are flowering.
Fruiting pedicels 8–15 mm long, widely spreading to somewhat arched downward. Flowers probably
5–8 mm long, pale lavender to purplish, and rather inconspicuous. Fruits slender, 2.5–4.5 cm long
(the Lehto specimen has fruit 3.7 cm long), 1.5 mm wide. Seeds wingless.
Figure 21. Sibara angelorum. (A) “East of Punta Eugenia, Baja California” [NW Baja California Sur, 27º48′N,
115º01′W], 13 Mar 1949, Gentry 8683 (ASU). (B) Cabeza Prieta Tank, 6 Nov 1979, Lehto L23523 (ASU).
Felger et al.: Southwestern Arizona flora, Brassicaceae and Burseraceae
This species is recorded for the United States by the one Cabeza Prieta specimen (Felger et al.
2007). Known from both Baja California states, and coastal Sonora but not in the northwestern part
near the flora area.
CP: Cabeza Prieta Tanks, canyon, S10, T13, R15W, 6 Apr 1979, Lehto L23523 (ASU).
*Sisymbrium – Hedge-mustard, rocket
Cool-season ephemerals. Plants glabrous or with simple hairs. Flowers small and usually
yellow. Fruits narrowly linear, terete or slightly flattened. Seeds not mucilaginous when wet.
North America, Eurasia, and Africa, and widely introduced; 41 species.
1. Pedicels slender, noticeably more slender than the fruit; flowers and fruits glabrous; petals 3–4 mm
long; fruits (1.8) 3–5 cm long, 0.8–1.3 mm wide; widespread and common……...… Sisymbrium irio
1. Pedicels relatively thick, about as thick as the fruit; flowers and fruits glabrous or not; petals 5–10
mm long; fruits 3–10+ cm long, 1–2 mm wide; roadsides, localized and not common.
2. Upper stem leaves pinnately divided into narrowly linear segments including the terminal one;
fruiting pedicels 4–13 mm long ................................................................. Sisymbrium altissimum
2. Upper stems leaves pinnately divided but the segments not all narrowly linear; fruiting
pedicels 3–6 mm long................................................................................... Sisymbrium orientale
**Sisymbrium altissimum Linnaeus
Tall tumble-mustard, tumble mustard, Jim Hill mustard. Figure 22.
Plants sometimes to nearly 1.5 m tall, usually hairy below and glabrous above, the hairs
simple. Basal leaves pinnatifid, to 15 cm long. Upper cauline leaves pinnately divided into narrowly
linear lobes. Fruiting pedicels spreading, (4) 6–10 (13) mm long. Petals 5–8 (10) mm long, pale
yellow. Fruits linear, (4.5) 6–9 (12) cm × 1–2 mm; ovules 90–120 per ovary.
In the flora area known from plants growing at a roadside construction site in 2005. We
presumed this species was no longer present after 2005, but then Sue Rutman found it again along
highway 85 in late spring 2011.
In Arizona almost entirely above the desert and mostly in the northern part of the state.
Native to Eurasia and widespread in temperate region of North America.
OP: Hwy 85 at milepost 68.7, 6.5 mi N of Park headquarters, plants in imported soil at construction
site, 15 Mar 2005, Rutman 2005-0315 (ORPI).
*Sisymbrium irio Linnaeus
London rocket; pamitón; ban cinsañig. Figure 23.
Plants generally taller than wide, glabrous or sparsely pubescent on part of the herbage and
pedicels, the hairs simple. Leaves highly variable, bright green, early leaves in a rosette, the stem
leaves well developed but reduced upwards; leaves petioled, pinnatifid, the larger ones (3) 7–20 cm
long, the blades thin. Flowering stems usually branched. Fruiting pedicels very slender and
spreading, 5–14 mm long. Petals, filaments, and anthers pale yellow; petals 3–4 mm long. Fruits
linear, (1.8) 3–5 cm × 0.8–1.3 mm; ovules 40–90 per ovary. Seeds yellow-orange and not
Widespread and common; mostly along washes, canyon bottoms, desert plains beneath trees,
and similar habitats on mountains, often in natural areas but especially in disturbed habitats.
Felger et al.: Southwestern Arizona flora, Brassicaceae and Burseraceae
Native to Europe and now invasive and weedy worldwide.
OP: Canyon Diablo, 21 Mar 1933, Kearney 10830. Alamo Canyon, 26 Mar 1941, McDougall 26.
Quitobaquito, 6 Apr 1988, Felger 88–278. Residence area (headquarters), 30 Mar 1988, Felger 88–140.
CP: Tule Tank, 2 Feb 1992, Felger 92–64. Childs Mt, 2240 ft, 25 Feb 1993, Felger 93–44. Redtail
Tank, Griffin 02/03/1995 (CAB).
Figure 22. Sisymbrium altissimum. (A, B & E) Ajo Mountains wayside construction site (3 mi S of N
boundary of Organ Pipe), Hwy 85, 13 April 2005. (C) Sedona, Yavapai Co., 14 Apr 2001, photo by Max
Licher (SEINet). (D) Apache Creek, Catron Co., NM, 7 Jul 2009, photo by Russell Kleinman (gilaflora.com).
Felger et al.: Southwestern Arizona flora, Brassicaceae and Burseraceae
Figure 23. Sisymbrium irio. (A) By Lucretia Breazeale Hamilton. (B) Alamo Canyon, 11 Mar 2014. (C) Estes
Canyon, 16 Feb 2005.
**Sisymbrium orientale Linnaeus
Indian hedge-mustard. Figure 24.
Plants to 1 m tall, glabrous or pubescent, the hairs simple. Basal leaves in a rosette, petioled,
pinnately lobed, to 20 cm long, often relatively thick and coarse; cauline leaves hastate, with 1 or 2
lobes on each side. Fruiting pedicels ascending to divaricate, about as wide as the fruit, 3–6 mm long.
Petals 6–10 mm long, lemon yellow. Fruits linear, 5–13 cm × 1–1.5 mm; ovules (60)–100 (140) per
ovary. The flowers are larger and brighter yellow than those of S. irio.
Well established in disturbed habitats at Ajo and Why, and found growing at a construction
site along Highway 85 in Organ Pipe in 2005 and later at several places along the highway. So far it
has not established within the core flora area.
Native to the Mediterranean region of Europe. A potentially invasive species; it is
widespread in southern and western Arizona. The earliest Arizona specimen is from 1931 and there
have been many Arizona collections since 1963. Weedy in many regions worldwide including the
Felger et al.: Southwestern Arizona flora, Brassicaceae and Burseraceae
OP: Ariz State Rte 85, 6.5 mi N of Park headquarters, dozens of plants at a construction site, 15 Mar
2005, Rutman 2005-0315-1.
CP: Refuge headquarters at Ajo, 9 Apr 2005, Felger 05-158.
Figure 24. Sisymbrium orientale. Ajo: (A) 15 Mar 2008; (B) 26 Feb 2005.
Streptanthella, see Streptanthus
Streptanthus – Jewel-flower
Central and western United States and northern Mexico; 54 species. Al-Shehbaz (2012) and
Cacho et al. (2014) show that Caulanthus and Streptanthella are included in a monophyletic
1. Stem (cauline) leaves clasping; flowers showy, the petals 14–18 mm long; fruits flattened, 4–6 mm
wide………………………………………………………………………….. Streptanthus carinatus
1. Stem leaves not clasping; flowers not showy, the petals 2.3–5 mm long; fruits flattened or terete,
less than 2 mm wide.
2. Leaves or leaf lobes not linear; petals 2.3–4.5 mm long; fruiting pedicels not curved; fruits 0.7–
1.2 mm wide, turned downward at maturity............................................. Streptanthus lasiophyllus
2. Leaves or leaf lobes linear; petals 4–5 mm long; fruiting pedicels usually curved; fruits 1.4–1.6
mm wide; spreading or sometimes turned downward at maturity............ Streptanthus longirostris
Felger et al.: Southwestern Arizona flora, Brassicaceae and Burseraceae
Streptanthus carinatus C. Wright ex A. Gray subsp. arizonicus (S. Watson) Kruckenberg, Rodman,
& Worthington
[S. arizonicus var. luteus Kearney & Peebles]
Arizona jewel-flower. Figure 25.
Figure 25. Streptanthus carinatus subsp. arizonicus. Estes Canyon: (A & E) 2 Mar 2008; (D) 19 Mar 2012.
(B & F) Alamo Canyon, 26 Feb 2014. (C) Gunsight Hills near Kuakatch, 3 Mar 2005.
Glabrous spring ephemerals. Early leaves in a basal rosette, the rosette and lower stem leaves
highly variable, ovate, oblanceolate, or pinnatifid, 5–25 cm long, the cauline leaf blade bases clasping
the stem; leaves reduced above. Fruiting pedicels divaricate to ascending, 7–22 (35) mm long.
Flowers 8–11 mm long, the calyx urn-shaped, white or yellow, the petals slender, recurved at tips,
14–18 mm long, whitish often with purple veins or purple with white margins. Fruits flattened, 3–6
cm long, 4–6 mm wide; ovules 26–54 per ovary. Seeds winged, not mucilaginous.
Mountain canyons and rocky slopes in Organ Pipe including the Ajo, Diablo, Puerto Blanco,
and Santa Rosa mountains, and sometimes in larger washes running out from mountains.
Arizona to Texas and northern Mexico including Baja California.
Felger et al.: Southwestern Arizona flora, Brassicaceae and Burseraceae
OP: Alamo Canyon, Nichol 26 Mar 1939. W-facing slope SE of Bull Pasture near Sphinx Head, 28
Feb 1989, Baker 7701 (ORPI). Arch Canyon, 2 Dec 1990, Felger 90–511. Kuakatch Wash near E boundary, 2
Mar 2003, Rutman 2003-210 (ORPI). Santa Rosa Mts, 11 Mar 2003, Felger 03-307. Trail from The Cones to
Mount Ajo, 3940 ft, 10 Apr 2005, Felger 05-260.
Streptanthus lasiophyllus (Hooker & Arnott) Hoover
[Caulanthus lasiophyllus (Hooker & Arnott) Payson; Guillenia lasiophylla (Hooker & Arnott)
Greene; Thelypodium lasiophyllum (Hooker & Arnott) Greene]
California mustard. Figure 26.
Figure 26. Streptanthus lasiophyllus. (A) Ajo, 6 Mar 2008. (B) Kuakatch Wash near Hwy 85, 4 Feb 2005.
(C) Estes Canyon, 18 Mar 2005. (D) Aguajita Wash, 4 Feb 2005.
Cool-season ephemerals, erect-growing, (8) 10–60 cm tall, mostly branched from above,
sparsely to densely hispid or hirsute (rarely sub-glabrate) with simple hairs. Leaves pinnatifid, (2) 4–
12 cm long, the plants often becoming leafless as fruits mature. Fruiting pedicels reflexed to
spreading, 0.7–3 mm long. Flowers in elongated racemes, petals white to pinkish or purplish, (2.3)
Felger et al.: Southwestern Arizona flora, Brassicaceae and Burseraceae
2.5–4.5 mm long. Fruits (1.8) 2.5–3.5 (4.2) cm long, slender, straight, and terete, turning downward
as they mature and dehisce; ovules 14–60 per ovary. Seeds ca. 1 mm long, not mucilaginous.
Widespread through the flora area, valley plains and mountains; one of the most common
mustards in Cabeza Prieta.
Western Sonora through Arizona to Utah, and Baja California to western Washington.
OP: Alamo, Ajo Mts, 2500 ft, Nichol 14 Mar 1939. Sierra de Santa Rosa, 1600–2200 ft, 11 Feb 1978,
Bowers 1026. Arch Canyon, 2900 ft, 11 Mar 1983, Daniel 2611 (ASU). Cuerda de Leña, 30 Mar 1981,
Butterwick 7127 (ASU). Quitobaquito, 29 Mar 1988, Felger 88-133.
CP: Mohawk Valley near point of the Pintas, Simmons 7 Mar 1964 (CAB). Cholla Pass, 11 Apr 1978,
Reeves 6822 (ASU). Growler Valley, Phelps 18 Mar 1978 (ASU). Charlie Bell Pass, 3 Apr 1992, Whipple
3951. Childs Mt, 25 Feb 1993, Felger 93-38. Papago Well, 26 Feb 1993, Felger 93-132.
TA: Tinajas Altas Pass, 12 Feb 1977, Reeves 5404 (ASU). Vicinity of Tinajas Altas, Van Devender 5
Mar 1983. Tinajas Altas Mts, above the tinajas, 19 Mar 1998, Felger (observation). Coyote Water, Felger 05131.
Streptanthus longirostris (S. Watson) S. Watson
[Streptanthella longirostris (S. Watson) Rydberg]
Long-beak twist-flower. Figure 27.
Figure 27. Streptanthus longirostris. Dunes, 20 mi SW of Sonoyta, Sonora, 6 Feb 2014.
Felger et al.: Southwestern Arizona flora, Brassicaceae and Burseraceae
Cool-season ephemerals, glabrous, 18–60 cm tall, simple to much-branched, the branches
ascending. Stems leafy; fresh herbage bluish glaucous, the leaves often thick. Lower leaves largest,
narrowly lanceolate, 2.5–10.5 × 0.1–2.2 cm, mostly pinnately parted with a few slender lobes; upper
leaves lanceolate to oblanceolate or linear and entire, the margins entire, dentate to sinuate or
pinnatifid. Racemes 4–20+ cm long. Fruiting pedicels 1–5 (7) mm long, usually curved. Flower
buds with a few appressed 2-armed hairs. Flowers small, the petals 4–5 mm long, linear, often white
and maroon. Fruits slender, terete, and long-beaked, 2.4–6.5 cm × 1.4–1.6 mm. Seeds narrowly
winged, 2–3 mm long, not mucilaginous.
Known for certain in sand and silt soils of washes, flats, and dunes in the southern part of
Cabeza Prieta, especially the Pinta Sands. It is widespread in the Goldwater Range and adjacent
northwestern Sonoran including the extremely arid Sierra del Rosario (Felger 2000), and is expected
from Tinajas Altas eastward.
Western United States, especially in the Southwest, and Mexico in Baja California and
northern Sonora.
CP: N Pinta Tank (Simmons 1966). E side of Pinacate Lava Flow along Camino del Diablo, 1 Feb
1992, Felger 92-20. Pinta Sands, 1 Feb 1992, Felger 92-38. Dos Playas, 26 Feb 1993, Felger 93-143.
West and west-central North America including northern Mexico; 16 species.
Thelypodium wrightii A. Gray
[Stanleyella wrightii (A. Gray) Rydberg]. Figure 28.
Ephemerals (or sometimes biennial?) reaching 2 m in height; glabrous. Leaves petiolate, the
lower leaves pinnately lobed, the upper leaves toothed to entire. Fruiting pedicels (3) 4–6 (7) mm
long. Petals purple and white or white, 4–7 (9) mm long. Fruits (2.5) 4–7 (9) cm long, slender and
terete, constricted between the seeds; ovules 76–128 per ovary.
Higher elevations in the Ajo and Diablo mountains, often beneath trees and other shaded or
protected habitats in canyon bottoms and north-facing slopes.
Arizona to Colorado, Utah, Oklahoma, Texas, and northern Mexico including Baja
California. Flowering March to November.
OP: Alamo Canyon, Nichol 14 Mar 1939. Estes Canyon, Hesselberg 16 Oct 1966. Arch Canyon,
Pate 19 Nov 1994.
*Thlaspi – Pennycress
Eurasia and north Africa, and introduced nearly worldwide; 6 species.
**Thlaspi arvense Linnaeus
Fanweed, roadside pennycress, field pennycress. Figure 29.
Cool-season, erect ephemerals to 80 cm high; glabrous. Leaf margins entire, repand or
dentate. Fruiting pedicels (5) 9–13 (15) mm long. Petals white, (2.4) 3–5 mm long. Fruits rounded
and strongly flattened, often 1–2 cm wide, the apex notched to 5 mm deep, the valves winged
throughout; ovules 6–16 per ovary.
Felger et al.: Southwestern Arizona flora, Brassicaceae and Burseraceae
Known from the flora area by a single specimen, perhaps resulting from an accidental
introduction by a visitor. Salvia reflexa (Pinkava 9994, ASU) is likewise known from a single
collection in the flora area, from the same place, date, and collector.
Native to Eurasia and weedy worldwide.
OP: Campground, 25 Nov 1972, Pinkava 9993 (ASU).
Yuma Co.: 28 mi W of Mohawk Pass on Ariz State Hwy 8, 17 Mar 1974, McLaughlin 136.
Figure 28. Thelypodium wrightii. Alamo Canyon: (A, C & D) 9 Sep 2013; (B) 12 Jan 2014.
Felger et al.: Southwestern Arizona flora, Brassicaceae and Burseraceae
Figure 29. Thlaspi arvense. (A & D) Nixon Spring, Mount Trumbull, Coconino Co., 4 Jun 1972, Mason 3080.
(B & C) Gila Cliff Dwellings, Catron Co., NM, 26 May 2013, photos by Russell Kleinman (gilaflora.com).
Thysanocarpus – Fringepod, lacepod
Western North America including northwestern Mexico; 7 species.
Thysanocarpus curvipes Hooker
[T. curvipes var. elegans (Fischer & C.A. Meyer) B.L. Robinson; T. amplectens Greene]
Lacepod. Figure 30.
Cool-season ephemerals to 80 cm high. Early leaves in a basal rosette, leave highly variable,
the larger ones 3–13 cm long, the cauline leaf bases clasping the stem. Fruiting pedicels recurved, 3–
7 (12) mm long. Flowers minute, whitish, on racemes (4) 9–25 cm long. Fruits on slender curving
pedicels and uniquely disk-shaped with broad margins, these entire or with small perforations or holes
all the way around the fruit; ovule one per ovary.
Agua Dulce Mountains in Cabeza Prieta and widespread in Organ Pipe except the most arid
areas such as the southwestern portion. Found among rocks, often on north-facing exposures on
mountain slopes and in mountain washes. Its history in the flora area extends to more than 10,600
years, and this or a similar species was at Tinajas Altas more than 15,000 years ago.
Western North America including Baja California and northern Sonora.
OP: Canyon Diablo, 21 Mar 1935, Kearney 10816. Alamo Canyon: 2500 ft, Nichol 14 Mar 1939;
2800 ft, 28 Jan 1978, Bowers 1008. Ajo Mts, summit, 1 Apr 1944, Clark 11538 (ORPI). †Puerto Blanco Mts,
fruits, 10,540 ybp.
CP: Below Agua Dulce Pass, 26 Feb 1993, Felger 93-93.
TA: †Butler Mts, 10,360 ybp. †T. cf. curvipes, Tinajas Altas, 8970 to 15,050 ybp (8 samples).
Felger et al.: Southwestern Arizona flora, Brassicaceae and Burseraceae
Figure 30. Thysanocarpus curvipes. Estes Canyon: (A & C) 2 Mar 2008; (D) 27 Feb 2014. (B) S fork of
Alamo Canyon, 12 Mar 2005.
Six species in North and South America; segregated from Draba (Al-Shehbaz 2012; JordonThaden et al. 2010).
Tomostima cuneifolia (Nuttall ex Torrey & A. Gray) Al-Shehbaz, M. Koch & Jordon-Thaden
[Draba cuneifolia Nuttall ex Torrey & A. Gray; D. cuneifolia var. integrifolia S. Watson; D. sonorae
Greene; D. cuneifolia var. sonorae (Greene) Parish; Tomostima sonorae (Greene) Al-Shehbaz, M.
Koch & Jordon-Thaden]
Wedge-leaf draba. Figure 31.
Small winter-spring ephemerals with 2–4-rayed hairs. Leaves in a basal rosette, 5.5–45 × 2–
18 mm, sessile, thin, broadly obovate with (1) 2 or 3 pairs of shallow, coarse teeth. Cauline leaves 0–
6, restricted to the lower 1/3 of the stem. Flowering stems leafless; inflorescences (1.8) 3–15 cm.
Fruiting pedicels 1–7 (10) mm long, horizontal to ascending. Flowers of two extremes, sometimes on
the same plant, the smaller flowers with petals 1.2–1.5 mm long, the larger flowers with petals to 3
mm long; sepals and petals very quickly deciduous, the petals white. Fruits (4.5) 6–12 × (1.6) 2–2.7
Felger et al.: Southwestern Arizona flora, Brassicaceae and Burseraceae
mm, laterally flattened, with simple or 2–4-rayed hairs; ovules (12) 24–72 per ovary. Seeds 0.6–0.7
mm long, red-brown, mucilaginous when wet.
Seasonally common and widespread in washes, desert plains, sand flats, and rocky slopes
especially in sheltered niches. This or a similar species grew at Tinajas Altas 11,000 years ago.
Much of the United States and northern Mexico including both states of Baja California and
to southern Sonora and Zacatecas.
This species is distinguished from other Sonoran Desert crucifers by its broad and shallowly
toothed basal leaves, small and leafless flowering stems, and relatively short, broad, and laterally
flattened fruits. Rollins (1993) recognized 3 varieties of Draba cuneifolia, but these are not always
well marked in the Sonoran Desert Region, are not geographically separate, and do not seem worthy
of recognition. Many specimens from the flora area have the larger fruits characteristic of var.
integrifolia but with the fruits extending nearly to the base of the inflorescence axis as in var.
OP: Quitobaquito, Nichol 10 Mar 1939. Alamo Canyon, 28 Jan 1978, Bowers 1006. Gachado Line
Camp, 28 Jan 1978, Bowers 1012.
CP: 6 mi E of Papago Well, 28 Feb 1976, McManus, McLaughlin, & Fugate 1043. Flats near Sheep
Mts, Agua Dulce Mts, 18 Feb 1979, McLaughlin 1953. 1.8 mi N of Adobe Windmill, 25 Feb 1993, Felger 9362. Charlie Bell Pass, 3 Apr 1992, Whipple 3947. Childs Mt, 25 Feb 1993, Felger 93-42.
Figure 31. Tomostima cuneifolia. (A) Alamo Wash, 11 Mar 2014. (B) Armenta Ranch area, 13 Feb 2005.
TA: Base of Tinajas Altas, 29 Mar 1930, Harrison 6580. Frontera Canyon, 18 Mar 1998, Felger
(observation). Camino del Diablo, SSE of Raven Butte, 20 Feb 2005, Felger 05-36. †T. cf. cuneifolia, Tinajas
Altas, fruits, 10,950 ybp.
Felger et al.: Southwestern Arizona flora, Brassicaceae and Burseraceae
BURSERACEAE – Frankincense or Torchwood Family
Trees and shrubs with prominent resin ducts containing aromatic terpenes and essential oils.
Flowers small, radial, often unisexual.
Tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas, Asia, and Africa; 20 genera, 600 species.
Frankincense is derived from the resin of Boswellia carteri and related species, and myrrh from
Commiphora abyssinica and related species. All members of the family are apparently frost
sensitive. The family is most closely related to the Anacardiaceae.
Americas, mostly semiarid subtropical scrub; Bursera, with 100 species, is the largest genus
in the family. Mostly in Mexico, with maximum diversity along the Pacific slope where more than 80
species occur and 70 are endemic. Nine species in southern Sonora, 4 in the Guaymas Region, and 1
in the desert in northwestern Sonora and adjacent Arizona and southeastern California. The aromatic
foliage and gum, or copal, have a long history of religious and medicinal uses.
Bursera microphylla A. Gray
Elephant tree; torote; ‘usabkam. Figure 32.
Tree-like shrubs, glabrous, often 1.5–4 m tall, with semi-succulent thick limbs and short, fat
trunks; the wood very soft. A large Bursera in Frontera Canyon in the Tinajas Altas Mountains
measured 4 m tall and 6 m across, with a trunk 110 cm tall and 130 cm in circumference. Deeply cut
branches or roots ooze blood-red sap. The sap and herbage are pungently aromatic, being especially
rich in terpenes and essential oils. Bark on twigs and smaller branches red-brown, becoming papery
on larger limbs and trunks and peeling in large flakes or sheets, especially during spring dry season.
Leaves drought deciduous, bright green, pinnate, mostly (1.5) 2–4 cm long, the rachis very narrowly
winged; leaflets more or less linear-oblong to oval. Long shoots with relatively long internodes,
leaves otherwise crowded at ends of short shoots; short-shoot leaves may appear several times per
year at any season following even meager rainfall, except during the coldest weather; long shoots,
growing with hot-weather rains, are briefly leafy in their first season. Many bursera plants in the flora
area, especially in Organ Pipe, show signs of repeated freeze damage.
All or most of the plants are probably functionally dioecious. Flowers solitary or 2–several
on slender stalks, cream-white or pale greenish yellow, 2 mm wide; sepals and petals usually 3 each
on female flowers, and (4) 5 each on male flowers. Fruits 7–9 mm long, dull purple-brown and
glaucous when fresh, the 3 leathery carpels splitting apart when fully ripe to reveal a red pseudo-aril
enveloping the seed (see Bates 1992). Seeds 6 mm long, 3-angled. Flowering with emerging leaves
in the first summer rains.
Rocky slopes and sometimes upper bajadas throughout Cabeza Prieta and Tinajas Altas to
peak elevations. Widespread in Organ Pipe on mountain slopes and upper bajadas, often on west- and
south-facing slopes. Its history in the region extends to 6000 years in the Tinajas Altas Mountains.
Sonoran Desert in southern Arizona and western Sonora to the vicinity of Guaymas, and
southeastern California to the Cape Region of Baja California Sur.
The crushed leaves are highly aromatic. When a leaf is broken off of a turgid stem, a tiny jet
of aromatic sap may squirt from the wound as an herbivore defense mechanism (Beccera 1994) . The
aromatic foliage and sap have been widely used for medicinal and ritual purposes, including by the
Cahuillas and Seris (Bean & Saubel 1972; Felger & Moser 1985; Rea 1977). Lumholtz (1912: 331)
reported that “the root of the torote tree, crushed and left in water, furnished necessary material for
the tanning” of mule deer, pronghorn, or bighorn sheep hides.
Felger et al.: Southwestern Arizona flora, Brassicaceae and Burseraceae
Figure 32. Bursera microphylla. (A) By Lucretia Breazeale Hamilton. Ajo: (B & C) 13 Jan 2008; (D) 6 Sep
2013. (E) Red Cone Campground, Pinacate Biosphere Reserve, Sonora, 13 Jan 2008. (F) Near Red Cone
Campground, Sonora, 9 Mar 2009.
OP: Senita Basin, 26 Feb 1978, Bowers 1095. 5 km NW of Bates Well, 3 Dec 1990, Felger 90–581.
W of Growler Pass, 7 Mar 2003, Rutman 2003–248 (ORPI).
CP: Davidson Canyon, Simmons 9 Oct 1962 (CAB). Tule Tank, 6 Apr 1979, Lehto L-23551 (ASU).
E end of Tule Mts, 20 Mar 1987, Elias 10308. Observations, 12–15 Jun 1992, Felger: Granite Mt, Granite Pass
Tank; Eagle Tank; North Pinta Tank; Buckhorn Tank; Cabeza Prieta Tanks.
TA: Tinajas Altas, Vorhies 16 Apr 1924. Tinajas Altas Mts, 9 Mar 1986, Van Devender 86–12.
†Tinajas Altas, seeds, 5940 ybp.
Felger et al.: Southwestern Arizona flora, Brassicaceae and Burseraceae
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Previously published parts of Ajo Peak to Tinajas Altas: A flora of southwestern Arizona
Felger, R.S., S. Rutman, J. Malusa, and T.R. Van Devender. 2013. Ajo Peak to Tinajas Altas: A
flora of southwestern Arizona: AN INTRODUCTION. Phytoneuron 2013-5: 1–40.
Felger, R.S., S. Rutman, J. Malusa, and T.R. Van Devender. 2013. Ajo Peak to Tinajas Altas: A
flora of southwestern Arizona: Part 2. THE CHECKLIST. Phytoneuron 2013-27: 1–30.
Felger, R.S., S. Rutman, J. Malusa, and T.R. Van Devender. 2013. Ajo Peak to Tinajas Altas: A
flora of southwestern Arizona: Part 3. FERNS, LYCOPODS, AND GYMNOSPERMS.
Phytoneuron 2013-37: 1–46.
Felger, R.S., S. Rutman, J. Malusa, and T.R. Van Devender. 2013. Ajo Peak to Tinajas Altas: A
flora of southwestern Arizona: Part 4. ANGIOSPERMS: MAGNOLIIDS. Phytoneuron
2013-38: 1–9.
Felger, R.S., S. Rutman, and J. Malusa. 2013. Ajo Peak to Tinajas Altas: A flora of southwestern
Arizona: Part 5. MONOCOTS EXCEPT GRASSES. Phytoneuron 2013-76: 1–59.
Felger, R.S., S. Rutman, and J. Malusa. 2014. Ajo Peak to Tinajas Altas: A flora of southwestern
Arizona: Part 6. POACEAE – GRASS FAMILY. Phytoneuron 2014-35: 1–139.
Felger, R.S., S. Rutman, J. Malusa, and M.A. Baker. 2014. Ajo Peak to Tinajas Altas: A flora of
southwestern Arizona: Part 7.
Phytoneuron 2014-69: 1–95.
Felger, R.S., S. Rutman, and J. Malusa. 2014. Ajo Peak to Tinajas Altas: A flora of southwestern
Arizona: Part 8. EUDICOTS: ACANTHACEAE – APOCYNACEAE. Phytoneuron 201485: 1–74.
Felger, R.S., S. Rutman, M. Costea, D.F. Austin, and J. Malusa. 2015. Ajo Peak to Tinajas Altas: A
flora of southwestern Arizona: Part 9. EUDICOTS: CONVOLVULACEAE ‒ MORNING
GLORY FAMILY. Phytoneuron 2015-2: 1–22.
Felger, R.S., S. Rutman, M. Costea, C. Matt Guilliams, and J. Malusa. 2015. Ajo Peak to Tinajas
Altas: A flora of southwestern Arizona: Part 10. EUDICOTS: BERBERIDACEAE,
BIGNONIACEAE, and BORAGINACEAE. Phytoneuron 2015-1: 1–60.