Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

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

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Chaenactis stevioides, Esteve’s Pincushion

Esteve’s Pincushion has pretty white flowers, mostly discoid. The plants bloom in early spring from February to May or June. Chaenactis stevioides Phyllaries on Esteve’s Pincushion are linear, narrowly tapered and hairy glandular, often cobwebby looking. Chaenactis stevioides Esteve’s Pincushion is an annual native forb or herb in the Sunflower Family. The florets are small but showy. Chaenactis stevioides Esteve’s Pincushion is found in the west central and southwestern United States and in Baja California and northern Sonora, Mexico. Chaenactis stevioides Esteve’s Pincushion has green or gray-green leaves, both basal and along stems. The leaves are alternate and concentrated on the lower stems. Note leaves are pinnatifid or even bi-pinnatifid. Chaenactis stevioides Esteve’s Pincushion grows up to a foot or more with 1 or multiple stems. Plants prefer elevations from100 to 6,500 feet and are found in lower and upper deserts, openings in chaparral, pinyon-juniper, mesas, plains, sandy or gravelly slopes and washes. Chaenactis stevioides

Scientific Name: Chaenactis stevioides
Common Name: Esteve’s Pincushion
Also Called: Pincushion Flower, Steve's Dusty Maiden, Steve's Dustymaiden, Steve's Pincushion
Family: Asteraceae, Sunflower Family
Synonyms: (Chaenactis gillespiei, Chaenactis latifolia, Chaenactis mexicana, Chaenactis stevioides var. brachypappa, Chaenactis stevioides var. thornberi)
Status: Native
Duration: Annual
Size: Up to 16 inches or less.
Growth Form: Forb/herb; erect, one or up to 12 stems, open airy branches, multiple blue-green or purplish stems; thin cobwebby, silky hairs, older plants glabrous.
Leaves: Green or gray-green; thin or slender; alternate concentrated on lower stems; basal leaves withering; cauline leaves pinnatifid or bi-pinnatifid, lobes linear, elliptical or obtuse, with 4 to 8 pairs of primary lobes.
Flower Color: White, pinkish-white, cream or yellow flower heads; some in light shades of yellow, heads more or less radiate but mostly discoid flowers; several heads on 4 inch stalks or peduncles, peduncles usually stipulate-glandular and often arachnoid; rigid hairy bracts or phyllaries, phyllaries also stipulate-glandular and often arachnoid; fruit is an achene.
Flowering Season: February to May or June.
Elevation: 100 to 6,500 feet.

Habitat Preferences: Lower and upper deserts, arid habitats, openings in chaparral, pinyon-juniper, mesas, plains, sandy or gravelly slopes and washes.

Recorded Range: Found in the west central and southwestern United States, Baja California and northwest Mexico (Sonora). This species occurs throughout most of Arizona. A record from New York is likely a cultivated escapee.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Chaenactis stevioides.

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 17 species and 17 accepted taxa overall for Chaenactis World wide, The Plant List includes 19 accepted species names and includes a further 55 of infraspecific rank for the genus. Members of the genus Chaenactis are commonly referred to as pincushions or dustymaidens

In the Southwestern United States: Arizona has 6 species of Chaenactis, California has 13 species, Nevada has 8 species, New Mexico has 3 species, Texas has 5species, Utah has 0 species.

Comments: Esteve’s Pincushion is a common early spring bloomer heavily populated in the Sonoran and Mojave Deserts and northward into the Great Basin Desert. It is well represented throughout Arizona.

Importance to Wildlife: In Clark County, Nevada, (Arden Study Area 1976), a closely related species, Pebble Pincushion, Chaenactis carphoclinia has been identified as an important food source the southwestern Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii).

In Southwest Desert Flora see also Pebble Pincushion, Chaenactis carphoclinia var. carphoclinia.

Native Americans made an infusion of the plant to slow down heartbeats of children with fevers.

  • Navajo, Kayenta Other, Fasteners; Juice used as glue to mend broken ceremonial items.
  • Nevada Indian Drug, Heart Medicine, Pediatric Aid; Infusion of plant used to slow down heartbeats of children with fevers.

  • See species account from Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn.

    The genus Chaenactis is from the Greek words or root words "chaino" meaning "to gape" and also from "aktis" meaning "a ray"; thus the reference is to the enlarged outer corolla so common in the genus.

    The species epithet stevioides is named in honor of the Spanish humanist Pedro Jaime Esteve (1556) doctor and medical botanist.

    Date Profile Completed: 8/7/2012; Updated, 07/25/2015, updated 10/17/2017
    Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, Arizona Flora, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, California, as Chaenactis carphoclinia.
    U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search - (accessed 10/16/2017)
    The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 10/16/2017).
    S. Buckley 2010, A. Hazelton 2015; SEINet A Field Guide
    James D. Morefield 2017. Chaenactis stevioides, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on October 17, 2017.
    James D. Morefield, FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 21 | Asteraceae | Chaenactis; 16. Chaenactis stevioides Hooker & Arnott, Bot. Beechey Voy. 353. 1839., Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford.
    Wikipedia contributors. "Chaenactis." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 2 Apr. 2017. Web. 16 Oct. 2017
    SEINet synonyms, scientific names, geographic locations, general information, (accessed 10/17/2017).
    Pedro Jaime Esteve. (2015, 15 de diciembre). Wikipedia, La enciclopedia libre. Fecha de consulta:17:02, octubre 17, 2017