Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Acourtia wrightii, Brownfoot

Brownfoot has pink, purple, lavender or white showy, fragrant clustered flower heads. Plants bloom from June to November or later. Acourtia wrightii Brownfoot has 8 to 12 florets per head in contrast with A. thurberi which has 3 to 6 florets per head. Note in photo the linear to lanceolate bracts or phyllaries in 2 to 3 series. Acourtia wrightii Brownfoot grows erect and has multiple stems. The 1 to 5 inch leaves turn brown at the base of “foot” and thus the common name “Brownfoot”. Leaves are green, alternate and sessile with variable shapes ranging from oblong-lanceolate to elliptic-oblong. Acourtia wrightii Brownfoot is a perennial species that grows up to 2 feet or more tall. Plants prefer elevations from 1,200 to 5,000 feet or higher. They are found in both upper and lower deserts, foothills, rocky hillsides, canyons in gravel, caliche or Sandy loamy soils. Acourtia wrightii

Scientific Name: Acourtia wrightii
Common Name: Brownfoot

Also Called: Pink Perezia, Wright’s Desertpeony

Family: Asteraceae, Sunflower Family

Synonyms: (Perezia wrightii, Perezia arizonica)

Status: Native

Duration: Perennial

Size: 1 to 3 feet (30-90 cm).

Growth Form: Forb/herb; more or less upright (erect), multiple stems; leaves turn brown at base or "foot" of plant thus the common name "Brownfoot".

Leaves: Green; leaves arranged alternately along the stems; leaves without stalks (sessile); leaf shape variable, oblong-lanceolate to elliptic-oblong, 1 to 5 inches (2.5-13 cm) long; bases of leaves are shaped like the head of an arrow (sagittate) or partially or completely surrounding the stem (clasping); leaf edges or margins toothed (dentate).

Flower Color: Pink or purple; heads fragrant, clustered in dense corymb-like panicles; the bracts surrounding the flower heads are shaped like a spinning top or beetroot (turbinate), these bracts or phyllaries are in 2 to 3 series, they are linear to lanceolate in shape; the flowers are bisexual and there are 8 to 12 florets per "flower" head, the arrangement is in contrast to A. thurberi which has 3 to 6 florets per head; corollas bilabiate with 2 lobes on one side and 3 lobes on the other side; fruit is a cypsela with bright white hairs (pappi).

Flowering Season: June to November or later; March to November in Texas.

Elevation: 1,200 to up to 5,000 feet (400-1,500 m) or higher.

Habitat Preferences: Upper and lower Chihuahuan and Sonoran deserts, foothills, rocky hillsides, ravines, canyons; gravel, caliche or Sandy loamy soils; prairie, plains, meadows, pastures, savannas and woodlands edges and canyons in Texas.

Recorded Range: Brownfoot is found in the southwestern United States in AZ, NM, NV, TX, UT. It is also native to northern and central Mexico in (Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Nuevo León, San Luis Potosí, Sonora, Zacatecas).

U.S. Weed Information: No data available.
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: No data available.
Wetland Indicator: No data available.
Threatened/Endangered Information: No data available.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Acourtia wrightii.

Genus Information: In North America there are 5 species and 5 accepted taxa overall for Acourtia. World wide, The Plant List includes 84 accepted species names and includes a further 30 of infraspecific rank for the genus.

The genus Acourtia was published in 1830 by David Don.

In the Southwestern United States: Arizona and Nevada each have 5 species of genus, California has 13 species, New Mexico has 7 species, Texas has 4 species, Utah has 6 species. All data approximate and subject to revision.

Comments: The common name, Brownfoot is so called because of the brown color of leaves and dense hairs at the foot of the plant. Although native in both the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts, Brownfoot is a more eastern distributed Chihuahuan Desert species.

According to Arizona Flora, the roots of this plant and also those of A. nana yield an acid (pipitzahoic) "which may be used in chemical analysis as an indicator of soil alkalinity"

The very similar looking Thurber Desert Holly, Acourtia thurberi, differs from Brownfoot with having only 3 to 6 flowers per head, while Brownfoot has 8 or more. A third Acourtia species native to Arizona, the smallest of the three, Dwarf Desertpeony, Acourtia nana, grows to 6 or 10 inches high.

Importance to Wildlife, Birds and Livestock
Seeds of Acourtia wrightii may likely be eaten by birds and small mammals.

Special Value to Native Bees, Butterflies and Insects
Acourtia wrightii flowers may be visited by butterflies, bees and other small insects.

Etymology:
The genus Acourtia was named in the 18th century in honor of amateur botanist Mary Elizabeth Catherine Gibbes A'Court (1792-1878).

The specific epithet, wrightii (wright'ii:) is named to honor Charles Wright (1811–1885), an American (Connecticut) botanical collector and world-wide botanist working primarily in Texas, Cuba and Connecticut. Much of his work took place in and around Texas and he began collecting plants and sending specimens to Professor Asa Gray at Harvard, eventually becoming one of his most trusted collectors.

Ethnobotany
Brownfoot has been used as a postpartum medicine, a styptic and as a poultice by southwestern United States indigenous peoples.
  • Hualapai Drug, Dermatological Aid; Poultice of wooly 'cotton' applied to open, bleeding wounds.
  • Navajo, Kayenta Drug, Gynecological Aid; Plant used for difficult labor, a postpartum medicine.
  • Pima Drug, Hemostat; Plant used as a styptic.

  • See complete listing of ethno-botanical uses at Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn.
    Date Profile Completed: 8/13/2012; updated 04/13/2020
    References:
    Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, as Perezia wrightii..
    U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search, (accessed 04/10/2020).
    https://plants.usda.gov/java/ClassificationServlet?source=profile&symbol=ACOUR&display=31
    The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; http://www.theplantlist.org/ (accessed 04/10/2020).
    http://www.theplantlist.org/1.1/browse/A/Compositae/Acourtia/
    Beryl B. Simpson, FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 19, 20 and 21 | Asteraceae | Acourtia, 4. Acourtia wrightii (A. Gray) Reveal & R. M. King, Phytologia. 27: 232. 1973. Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford.
    FNA 2006, Wiggins 1964, Kearney and Peebles 1969; Editor: L Crumbacher 2011, F S Coburn 2014, A Hazelton 2015 from SEINet Field Guide, on-line; - (accessed 04/13/2020).
    Native Plant Information Network, NPIN (2013). Published on the Internet http://www.wildflower.org/plants/ (accessed 04/13/2020). Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas, Austin, TX.
    https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=ACWR5
    Wikipedia contributors, 'Acourtia wrightii', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 26 May 2018, 22:20 UTC,
    https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Acourtia_wrightii&oldid=843103364 [accessed 13 April 2020]
    Wikipedia contributors, 'Charles Wright (botanist)', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 11 March 2019, 20:10 UTC,
    https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Charles_Wright_(botanist)&oldid=887302078 [accessed 13 April 2020]
    SEINet synonyms, scientific names, geographic locations, general information
    http://swbiodiversity.org/seinet/
    Etymology:Michael L. Charters California Plant Names: Latin and Greek Meanings and Derivations; A Dictionary of Botanical and Biographical Etymology - (accessed 04/10/2020)
    http://www.calflora.net/botanicalnames/pageAB-AM.html
    http://www.calflora.net/botanicalnames/pageW.html