Acourtia wrightii, Brownfoot
Scientific Name: Acourtia wrightii
Common Name: Brownfoot
Also Called: Pink Perezia, Wright’s Desertpeony
Family: Asteraceae, Sunflower Family
Synonyms: (Perezia wrightii, Perezia arizonica)
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.
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.
See complete listing of ethno-botanical uses at Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn.