Chaetopappa ericoides, Rose Heath
Scientific Name: Chaetopappa ericoides
Common Name: Rose Heath
Also Called: Heath-leaved Chaetopappa, Smallflower Aster
Family: Asteraceae, Sunflower Family
Synonyms: (Aster arenosus, Aster bellus, Aster ericaefolius, Aster hirtifolius, Aster leucelene, Inula ericoides, Leucelene ericoides, Leucelene hirtella)
Size: Up to 6 inches more or less.
Growth Form: Forb/herb, subshrub; branching woody caudex; erect; stems leafy and densely stipitate-glandular with bristly hairs; forms clumps of large separate tufts connected by underground rhizomes; woody, several branches, stems pubescent; bristly hairs; stems with overlapping scale-like leaves.
Leaves: Green; small, leaves scant, alternate; sessile; densely overlapping; leaf blades scaly, linear-oblanceolate to lanceolate; leathery-like (coriaceous); mid-nerves strongly raised; orangish stipitate-glandular.
Flower Color: White; small radiate flower heads; heads solitary on numerous slender branches, forming a flat-topped inflorescence across the top of the plant; flower heads with yellow disk florets 12 to 24, bisexual; ray florets 12 to 24 or less, turn pink or purple in the early afternoon as they turn downward away from the sun; phyllaries narrowly linear in 3 to 7 vertical series; pappi white, barbellate bristles; fruit is an achene.
Flowering Season: March or April to August, October or November – earlier and later in adjacent states.
Elevation: 1,500 to 7,500 feet.
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 and 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.
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.
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.
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.'