Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

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

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Dicoria canescens, Desert Twinbugs

Desert Twinbugs is a tap rooted annual forb that may form thickets of individual plants. Note that the lower leaves are longer, pointed, and lanceolate. The upper leaves are smaller and more rounded or ovate. Dicoria canescens Desert Twinbugs plants are beneficial to and attract a lot of insects. Here is a “true bug” (Order Hemiptera) laying eggs on the fuzzy leaf of a Dicoria canescens Desert Twinbugs plants are generally white hairy, erect and have one main stem with multiple branching. Dicoria canescens Desert Twinbugs plants are beneficial to and attract a lot of insects. Here is a “true bug” (Order Hemiptera) that looks similar to a kissing bug. Dicoria canescens Desert Twinbugs prefer dry desert areas such as alluvial soils or sandy soils, sandy washes and dunes. Dicoria canescens

Scientific Name: Dicoria canescens
Common Name: Desert Twinbugs

Also Called: Bugseed

Family: Asteraceae, Sunflower Family

Synonyms: (Dicoria brandegeei, Dicoria paniculata, Dicoria wetherillii, Dicoria clarkiae, Dicoria oblongifolia)

Status: Native

Duration: Annual

Size: 1 to 3 feet (3-9 dm)

Growth Form: Forb/herb; taproot, forms thickets, plants generally white hairy (pubescence); erect, one main stem with multiple branching.

Leaves: Gray-green with white hairs (canescent); lower leaves opposite; upper leaves alternate; lower leaves longer, pointed and lanceolate and sharply toothed; upper leaves smaller and more rounded or ovate.

Flower Color: Greenish to dull purple; inflorescence is an open panicle; male (staminate) and female (pistillate) flowers on separate plants (dioecious); fruit is a cypsela.

Flowering Season: September or October through February - may flower year-round

Elevation: Up to 5,500 feet (1,700 m)

Habitat Preferences: Alluvial soils or sandy soils, sandy washes and dunes.

Recorded Range: Desert Twinbugs is found in the southwestern United States in AZ, CA, CO, NM, NV and UT. This species is also native to Baja California and northwest Mexico. Desert Twinbugs is primarily in AZ, CA, NM, NV and UT and marginal in CO.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Dicoria canescens.

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

North America species range map for Dicoria canescens: Click image for full sized map.
Click image for full size map

U.S. Weed Information: Unknown
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: Unknown
Wetland Indicator: Unknown
Threatened/Endangered Information: Unknown

Genus Information: In North America there is 1 species and 1 accepted taxa overall for Dicoria. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 3 accepted species names and a further 9 scientific names of infraspecific rank for the genus.

The genus Dicoria was published by John Torrey and Asa Gray in 1859.

There are 5 sub-species in Dicoria canescens;

  • Dicoria canescens ssp. brandegeei, Desert Twinbugs (AZ, CO, NM, UT);
  • Dicoria canescens ssp. canescens, Desert Twinbugs (AZ, CA, NV, UT);
  • Dicoria canescens ssp. clarkiae, Desert Twinbugs (CA, NV, UT);
  • Dicoria canescens ssp. hispidula, Desert Twinbugs (CA, NV);
  • Dicoria canescens ssp. wetherillii, Desert Twinbugs (CO, UT);
  • Comments: Dicoria canescens, is descriptively named as the species epithet “canescens” is Latin for turning white or gray while a botanical definition means covered with short white or gray hairs. Desert Twinbugs is highly variable across its southwest deserts range. Based on its geographic range it is mostly a Mojave Desert species.

    Importance to Wildlife, Birds and Livestock
    Dicoria canescens flowers and plants may be visited by hummingbirds and/or small mammals in search of food, nectar or cover.

    Special Value to Native bees, Butterflies and Insects
    Dicoria canescens is likely visited by butterflies, bees and small insects.

    The genus “Dicoria” (Dicor'ia:) from the Greek dis, “twice,” and koris, “a bug,”, thus literally “two bugs” in reference to the two-fruit heads of akenes of the original species.

    The genus Dicoria was published by John Torrey and Asa Gray in 1859.

    The species epithet canescens (canes'cens:) means covered with short gray or white hairs as in the botanical definition canescent.

    Date Profile Completed: 7/30/2012; updated format 06/30/2020
    Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles
    U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search - (accessed 03/05/2020)
    The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 03/05/2020).
    Bruce G. Baldwin, adapted from Strother (2006) 2012, Dicoria canescens, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,; accessed on June 29, 2020.
    The Jepson Desert Manual; 2002; Baldwin, Bruce G., et. al.; The Jepson Desert Manual: Vascular Plants of Southeastern California; page Univ. of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, California
    John L. Strother, FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 21 | Asteraceae | Dicoria; 1. Dicoria canescens A. Gray in W. H. Emory, Rep. U.S. Mex. Bound. 2(1): 87, plate 30. 1859.; Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford.
    Wikipedia contributors, 'Dicoria canescens', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 25 July 2019, 04:27 UTC, [accessed 30 June 2020]
    SEINet synonyms, scientific names, geographic locations, general information.
    Etymology:Michael L. Charters California Plant Names: Latin and Greek Meanings and Derivations; A Dictionary of Botanical and Biographical Etymology - (accessed 06/30/2020)