Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

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

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Palafoxia arida var. gigantea, Giant Spanish Needles

Giant Spanish Needle has pink tubular flowers with about 10 to 20 heads per plant. Although note visible in the photo, the bracts surrounding the heads are rough and often bear stipule glands. Palafoxia arida var. gigantea Giant Spanish Needle blooms late winter to early spring or later; February to November. Giant Spanish Needle prefers elevations mostly below 2,000 feet (200 cm) and much lower in California. Palafoxia arida var. gigantea Giant Spanish Needle has green leaves mostly alternate and the leaf shape is linear of lanceolate. Giant Spanish Needle is also called Dune Spanish Needle because of its preference for sandy areas, particularly sand dunes. Palafoxia arida var. gigantea Giant Spanish Needle: : In the United States, Giant Spanish Needles is rare, found only in AZ and CA. It is also found in northern Mexico (Sonora) and Baja California. Insects may feed from the florets of Giant Spanish Needles. Palafoxia arida var. gigantea

Scientific Name: Palafoxia arida var. gigantea
Common Name: Giant Spanish Needle

Also Called: Desert Palafox, Dune Spanish Needle

Family: Asteraceae, Sunflower Family

Synonyms: (Palafoxia linearis)

Status: Native

Duration: Annual

Size: Up to 2 feet (200 cm).

Growth Form: Forb/herb, subshrub; erect; multiple stems and branching in lower areas, stems scabrous to nearly glabrous; stems sometimes with stipule glands (stipitate-glandular.

Leaves: Green; lower leaves opposite, upper leaves alternate; leaf shape linear or lanceolate.

Flower Color: Pink; flower heads with disk florets only (discoid), heads 10 to 20, tubular (cylindric) to narrowly (turbinate), bracts surrounding heads (phyllaries) scabrous or with stipule glands (stipitate-glandular); fruit is a cypsela, seeds windborne.

Flowering Season: February or March to November (late winter early spring)

Elevation: Below 2,000 feet (600 m); much lower in California.

Habitat Preferences: Sandy plains such as sand dunes and mesas.

Recorded Range: In the United States, Giant Spanish Needles is rare, found only in AZ and CA. It is also found in northern Mexico (Sonora) and Baja California. In Arizona, it is recorded in Yuma County although the specimen in the photo was observed near Rio Verde in eastern Maricopa County, Arizona.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Palafoxia arida var. gigantea.

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 11 species and accepted taxa overall for genus. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 12 accepted species names and a further 17 scientific names of infraspecific rank for the genus Palafoxia. P. linearis is a Mexican species

In the Southwestern United States: Arizona, California, Nevada and Utah each have 1 species of Palafoxia, New Mexico has 2 species and Texas has 7 species. All data approximate and subject to revision.

There are 2 sub-species in Palafoxia arida, Desert Palafox
Palafoxia arida var. gigantea, Giant Spanish Needle, (AZ, CA);
Palafoxia arida var. arida, Desert Palafox, (AZ, CA, NV, UT).

Comments: Giant Spanish Needles was first described on sand dunes west of Yuma, County, Arizona. Desert Palafox was originally classified as Palafoxia linearis which is a Mexican species also called Desert Palafox, but one that does not reach as far north. Perhaps additional research will provide insight into the relationship between these two species, if in fact they are separate species.

In Southwest Desert Flora also see: Desert Palafox, Palafoxia arida var. arida.

Importance to Wildlife, Birds and Livestock
Unknown

Special Value to Native Bees, Butterflies and Insects
Insects may feed from the florets of Giant Spanish Needles.

Etymology:
The genus Palafoxia is in honor of perhaps Josè Rebolledo de Palafox y Melzi (1776-1847), Duke of Saragossa. However, a paper published by Hervè M. Burdetin suggests that the first choice name was originally to honor and commemorate Juan de Palafox y Mendoza (1600-1659), who was a bishop and founder of the University of Mexico. The paper further suggests this is so because the other Palafox, Josè Regolledo de Palafox y Melzi became a national hero and the attribution was transferred to him.

The species epithet "gigantea" is a celebration of its large size.

Ethnobotany
Ethnobotany: Cahuilla used it to make a yellow dye.

Date Profile Completed: 10/9/2012, updated 02/22/2020
References:
Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, as Palafoxia linearis var. gigantea.
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search - (accessed 02/21/2020)
https://plants.usda.gov/java/nameSearch for Palafoxia
The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; http://www.theplantlist.org/ (accessed 02/21/2020).
http://www.theplantlist.org/1.1/browse/A/Compositae/Palafoxia/
FNA 2006, Shreve and Wiggins 1964, Kearny and Peebles 1979, Editor: A. Hazelton 2015, from SEINet Field Guide - (accessed 02/21/2020).
http://swbiodiversity.org/seinet/taxa/index.php?tid=2321&clid=0&pid=1&taxauthid=1
David J. Keil 2012, Palafoxia arida var. arida, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora, /eflora/eflora_display.php?tid=8000, accessed on February 20, 2020.
https://ucjeps.berkeley.edu/eflora/eflora_display.php?tid=8000
David J. Keil 2012, Palafoxia arida var. gigantea, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora, /eflora/eflora_display.php?tid=8001, accessed on February 22, 2020.
https://ucjeps.berkeley.edu/eflora/eflora_display.php?tid=8001
John L. Strother,FNA | Family List |FNA Vol. 21 | Asteraceae | Palafoxia ; 5. Palafoxia arida B. L. Turner & M. I. Morris, MadroƱo. 23: 79. 1975.; Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford.
'Palafoxia arida', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 22 March 2018, 07:16 UTC,
https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Palafoxia_arida&oldid=831799465 [accessed 21 February 2020]
SEINet synonyms, scientific names, geographic locations, general information.
http://swbiodiversity.org/seinet/
Etymology:Michael L. Charters California Plant Names: Latin and Greek Meanings and Derivations; A Dictionary of Botanical and Biographical Etymology - (accessed 02/03/2020)
http://www.calflora.net/botanicalnames/pagePA-PH.html