Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

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

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Acourtia thurberi, Thurber's Desertpeony

Thurber's Desertpeony has beautiful showy flowers of pink, white and lavender or purple. The plants bloom from June to October and October to November in California. Acourtia thurberi Thurber's Desertpeony has flower heads in clusters of 3 to 6 florets per head in contrast with A. wrightii which has 8 to 12 florets per head. Plants prefer elevations between 3,200 and 6,400 feet. Within those elevations they are found rocky hillsides, slopes and canyons in gravel and caliche soils. Acourtia thurberiThurber's Desertpeony leaves are dull green, alternate and ovate to ovate-elliptical in shape. Note the leaf bases are shortly sagittate or clasping while the margins are slightly dentate. Acourtia thurberi Thurber's Desertpeony fruits are called achenes. Note the bristly bright white pappus hairs on top of the achenes in the photo. Acourtia thurberi Thurber's Desertpeony is also called Thurber Perezia, a through-back to the original genus Perezia. The species is native to the southwestern United States and northwest Mexico. In the United States it is limited to Arizona and New Mexico. Acourtia thurberi

Scientific Name: Acourtia thurberi
Common Name: Thurber's Desertpeony
Also Called: Thurber Perezia (Spanish: Mata Gusano, Cola de Zorra, Pipichowa)
Family: Asteraceae, Sunflower Family
Synonyms: (Acourtia mexicana, Perezia thurberi, Perdicium mexicanum)
Status: Native
Duration: Perennial
Size: Up to 5 feet.
Growth Form: Forb/herb; erect, with grooved, glandular, green stems.
Leaves: Green; dull, alternate, cauline and/or basal; sessile, leaves ovate to ovate-elliptical; leaf bases shortly sagittate or clasping; margins acerose-denticulate; surface glandular-puberulent.
Flower Color: Purple or variable shades of purple, pink or lavender; flower heads narrow, clustered in dense corymb-like panicles; phyllaries in 2 to 3 series, narrow with acuminate tips, densely glandular hairy on the outer surface; florets 3 to 6 per head (in contrast to A. wrightii which has 8 to 12 florets per head); bisexual; corollas bilabiate with 2 lobes on one side and 3 lobes on the other side; fruit is an achene with a bristly bright white pappus.
Flowering Season: June to October; October to November in California.
Elevation: 3,200 to 6,400 feet.

Habitat Preferences: Rocky hillsides, slopes and canyons; gravel and caliche soils, Sonoran Desert scrub.

Recorded Range: Acourtia thurberi is native to the southwestern United States and northwest Mexico. In the United States it is limited in distribution to AZ and NM. In Arizona it is found in much of the southern part of the state and Mohave County. In Mexico it can be found in Chihuahua, Durango and Sonora.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Acourtia thurberi.

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.

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.

In the Southwestern United States: Arizona, New Mexico and Texas each have 3 species of Acourtia, California, Nevada and Utah each have 1 species. All data is approximate and subject to taxonomic changes.

Comments: Thurber’s Desertpeony is the largest of 3 Acourtia species found in Arizona. It may reach up to 5 feet in height while Brownfoot, Acourtia wrightii grows up to 4 feet. The smallest of the three, the diminutive Dwarf Desertpeony, Acourtia nana, only grows to 6 or 10 inches high.

In Arizona, Thurber’s Desertpeony may be found in groups of several plants or in small numbers of one or more.

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, thurberi is named to honor Dr. George G. Thurber, (1821-1890), American pharmacist, self-taught botanist and avid plant collector. He was hired in 1850 by the U.S. Boundary Commission to survey the boundary between the United States and Mexico.

Date Profile Completed: 9/24/2012; Updated, 07/25/2015, updated 09/02/2017
Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, as Perezia thurberi.
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search, (accessed 08/30/2017).
The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 08/30/2017).
Beryl B. Simpson, FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 19, 20 and 21 | Asteraceae | Acourtia, 3. Acourtia thurberi (A. Gray) Reveal & R. M. King, Phytologia. 27: 231. 1973. Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford.
FNA 2006, Kearney and Peebles 1969; Editor: L Crumbacher 2011, F S Coburn 2014, A Hazelton 2015
SEINet synonyms, scientific names, geographic locations, general information - (accessed 08/31/2017).
Wikipedia members, Acourtia, Wikipedia,Free Encyclopedia, 2013. March 15, 1:47 UTC, <//< [viewed 2017 September 1]
Thurber, George; JSTOR, Global Plants (accessed 09/01/2017).