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: 2 feet or more (4 feet).
Growth Form: Forb/herb; erect, multiple stems, leaves turn brown at base or "foot" of plant thus the common name "Brownfoot".
Leaves: Green; alternate, sessile; shape variable, oblong-lanceolate to elliptic-oblong, 1 to 5 inches long; bases sagittate or clasping; margins wavy, dentate spine-tipped.
Flower Color: Pink, purple, lavender or white; flower heads fragrant, clustered in dense corymb-like panicles; phyllaries in 2 to 3 series; linear to lanceolate; margins ciliate, tips obtuse to acute; florets bisexual, 8 to 12 florets per head (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 an achene with fluffy white array of bristles or pappus.
Flowering Season: June to November or later.
Elevation: 1,200 to Up to 5,000 feet or higher.

Habitat Preferences: Upper and lower deserts, foothills, rocky hillsides, canyons; gravel, caliche or sandy loamy soils.

Recorded Range: Brownfoot is found in the southwestern United States in 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.

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: The common name, Brownfoot is 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.

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 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 is named to honor Charles Wright (October 29, 1811 – August 11, 1885), an American (Connecticut) and world-wide botanist working primarily in Texas, Cuba and Connecticut.

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, 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 wrightii..
    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, 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, 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]
    Wright, Charles; JSTOR, Global Plants (accessed 09/01/2017).
    Wikipedia contributors. "Charles Wright (botanist)." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 26 Aug. 2017. Web. 1 Sep. 2017
    Native Plant Information Network, NPIN (2013). Published on the Internet (accessed 09/02/2017). Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas, Austin, TX.