Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

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

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Chaetopappa ericoides, Rose Heath

Rose Heath has showy white ray flowers with yellow centers. This species blooms from March or April to August, October or November; earlier and later in adjacent states. Chaetopappa ericoides Rose Heath is found in the southwest part of North America in AZ, CA, CO, KS, NE, NM, NV, OK, TX, UT and WY. It is also native throughout most of Mexico. Chaetopappa ericoides Rose Heath has numerous solitary flower heads on the ends of slender branches forming a flat-topped inflorescence across the top of the plant. The ray florets turn pink or purple in early afternoon as they turn downward away from the sun. Chaetopappa ericoides Rose Heath has green phyllaries, narrowly linear in 3 to 7 vertical series, the pappi are white with barbellate bristles and the fruit is an achene. Chaetopappa ericoides Rose Heath has small green leaves scant, alternate; sessile and densely overlapping; note that the leaf blades are scaly, linear-oblanceolate to lanceolate; leather-like and glandular hairy. Chaetopappa ericoides Rose Heath is found in the mid to upper Sonoran Desert, Juniper to Pinyon-juniper woodland communities, grasslands, Creosote flats; note the light-colored gypsum soils in the photo; they also prefer open sites over shale and limestone and open dry mesas and dry rocky slopes and hillsides and along roadsides. Chaetopappa ericoides Rose Heath is found in elevations from 1,500 to above 7,000 feet. Plants and low-growing up to 6 inches or less.  Chaetopappa ericoides

Scientific Name: Chaetopappa ericoides
Common Name: Rose Heath

Also Called: Heath-leaved Chaetopappa, Rose Heath, Rose-heath, Smallflower Aster

Family: Asteraceae, Sunflower Family

Synonyms: (Aster arenosus, Aster bellus, Aster ericaefolius, Aster hirtifolius, Aster leucelene, Inula ericoides, Leucelene ericoides, Leucelene hirtella)

Status: Native

Duration: Perennial

Size: Up to 6 inches (15 cm) tall.

Growth Form: Low growing forb/herb; mounding plants from many slender branches; forms clumps or mounds of plants connected by underground rhizomes; stems numerous with many branches, surfaces covered with short, soft, erect hairs (pubescent; sometimes glandular.

Leaves: Green; short, narrow, scant, heath-like, arranged alternately on stems; leaves without supporting stalks or stems (sessile); densely overlapping; leaf blades linear to oblanceolate.

Flower Color: White with yellow disk flowers; flowers small, both ray and discoid florets; flower heads singles (solitary) on numerous slender branches; flat-topped inflorescence; fruit is a cypsela with a white pappus of barbed stiff hairs.

Flowering Season: March or April to August, September, October; earlier and later in adjacent states.

Elevation: 2,000 to 7,500 feet (600-2,280 m).

Habitat Preferences: Mid to upper Sonoran Desert, Juniper to Pinyon-juniper woodland communities, grasslands, Creosote flats, open sites over shale, gypsum, limestone, open dry mesas and dry rocky slopes and hillsides and along roadsides.

Recorded Range: Chaetopappa ericoides is found in the southwest part of North America in AZ, CA, CO, KS, NE, NM, NV, OK, TX, UT, WY. In Arizona, this species is found in both the northern and southern parts of the state. It is also native throughout most of Mexico.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Chaetopappa ericoides.

North America species range map for Chaetopappa ericoides:
North American range map courtesy of Virginia Tech, Dept. of Forest Resources & Environmental Conservation

North America species range map for Chaetopappa ericoides: Click image for full size map
Click image for full size map

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 8 species and 10 accepted taxa overall for Chaetopappa. World wide, The Plant List includes 11 accepted species names and includes a further 8 of infraspecific rank for the genus.

The genus Chaetopappa was published by Augustin Pyramus de Candolle in 1836.

In the Southwestern United States: Arizona, California, Nevada and Utah each have 1 species of Chaetopappa, New Mexico has 2 species and Texas has 8 species. All data is approximate and subject to taxonomic changes.

Comments: As evidenced in the recorded range above, and Flora of North America, this species is "widespread and highly variable in the type and amount of pubescence as well as other features." Perhaps this species has acquired, or is in the process of acquiring more facultative strategies which enable it to expand its geographic area beyond that of the typically more limited obligate desert species. It thrives in much larger geographic areas, and in higher elevations than most desert species.

Importance to Wildlife, Birds and Livestock
Tiny seeds of Chaetopappa ericoides may possibly be eaten by birds and small mammals.

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

Etymology:
The genus Chaenactis (Chaetopap'pa:) is from the Greek words chaete or chaite, "bristle, mane, crest or foliage," and pappos, "pappus, fluff or downy appendage," and meaning loose, flowing hair from the pappus of barbed bristles.

The genus Chaetopappa was published by Augustin Pyramus de Candolle in 1836.

The species epithet ericoides (erico'ides:) means resembling Erica (from the genus Erica, which means "heath") or heath, thus the common names Heath-leaved Chaetopappa, Rose Heath.

Ethnobotany

Rose Heath is used for many purposes by southwestern United States indigenous peoples.

  • Havasupai Drug, Gastrointestinal and Pediatric Aid; Decoction of whole plant or roots taken or used as a wash by adults and children for digestive troubles.
  • Hopi Drug, Nose Medicine, Panacea and Stimulant; Infusion of root used to 'aid a sore nose.' and root used as a universal panacea; plant used as a stimulant.
  • Hopi Drug, Pediatric Aid; Infusion of herb used to 'quiet the baby.'
  • Hopi Drug, Reproductive Aid; Plant used to determine the sex of a child. This is quite an ambiguous reference. The text says this: 'This plant is used by the Hopi Indians as genetic factor among the Indian clans. Genetic factor refers to the choice of a small (female) or large (male) plant to assist in determining the sex of a child.' It is, therefore, unclear if the plant is used to detect whether the fetus is male or female, or to cause the child to be one or the other. Elsewhere, this author tells us that the Hopi make a decoction of the leaves of juniper 'which is said to be a laxative and is taken by women who desire a female child.' This suggests that the second possibility may be the correct one, with administration of large plants if you want a son and small ones if you want a daughter.
  • Keres, Western Drug, Antirheumatic (External); Poultice or infusion of plant used for swellings.
  • Navajo, Kayenta Drug, Kidney and Urinary Aid; Infusion of plant with sumac berries taken for kidney disease; infusion of plant with sumac berries taken for bladder disease.
  • Zuni Drug, Gynecological Aid; Warm infusion of plant taken to 'hasten parturition.'

  • See complete listing of ethno-botanical uses at Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn.

    Date Profile Completed: 8/9/2014; updated 06/12/2020
    References:
    Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, Arizona Flora, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, California; as Aster arenosus.
    U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search (accessed 06/12/2020).
    https://plants.usda.gov/java/nameSearch
    The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; http://www.theplantlist.org/ (accessed 06/12/2020).
    http://www.theplantlist.org/1.1/browse/A/Compositae/Chaetopappa/
    David J. Keil & Geraldine A. Allen 2017. Chaetopappa ericoides, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora, http://ucjeps.berkeley.edu/cgi-bin/get_IJM.pl?tid=2000, accessed on October 18, 2017.
    FNA 2006, Wiggins 1964, Kearney and Peebles 1969; Editors; S.Buckley 2010, F.S.Coburn 2014, A.Hazelton 2015; SEINet Field Guide; accessed on 06/12/2020.
    http://swbiodiversity.org/seinet/taxa/index.php?taxon=1185&clid=3264
    Guy L. Nesom, FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 20 | Asteraceae | Chaetopappa; 2. Chaetopappa ericoides (Torrey) G. L. Nesom, Phytologia. 64: 449. 1988.Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford.
    Wikipedia contributors, 'Chaetopappa ericoides', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 28 June 2018, 06:18 UTC,
    https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Chaetopappa_ericoides&oldid=847850774 [accessed 12 June 2020]
    SEINet synonyms, scientific names, geographic locations, general information.
    http://swbiodiversity.org/seinet/
    Arizona Cooperative Extension; Yavapai County Native & Naturalized Plants, Chaetopappa ericoides, rose heath; (accessed 06/12/2020)
    Etymology:Michael L. Charters California Plant Names: Latin and Greek Meanings and Derivations; A Dictionary of Botanical and Biographical Etymology - (accessed 06/12/2020)
    http://www.calflora.net/botanicalnames/pageCA-CH.html
    http://www.calflora.net/botanicalnames/pageE.html