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

Palafoxia arida var. gigantea, Giant Spanish Needles, Southwest Desert Flora Palafoxia arida var. gigantea, Giant Spanish Needles, Southwest Desert Flora Palafoxia arida var. gigantea, Giant Spanish Needles, Southwest Desert Flora

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.
Growth Form: Forb/herb, subshrub; multiple stems erect; branching in lower areas, stems slender, smooth or rough to the touch.
Leaves: Green; opposite below, alternate above; linear or linear lanceolate.
Flower Color: Pink; flower heads with disk flowers only (discoid); flower heads numerous; fruit is an achene, seeds windborne.
Flowering Season: February to November.
Elevation: Below 2,000 feet.

Habitat Preferences: Sandy plains 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. In Arizona, it is recorded in Yuma County although the specimen in the photo was observed in eastern Maricopa County near Rio Verde.

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: 11 species in Palafoxia in the southern half of the United States. 2 varieties include; Palafoxia arida var. arida, Desert Palafox found in the locations referenced above and Palafoxia arida var. gigantea, Giant Spanish Needle found in Arizona and California.

Comments: Giant Spanish Needles with a preference for sandy soils, was first described in Yuma County. Giant Spanish Needles remains under taxonomic review and some sources treat this species as Palafoxia linearis or a variety thereof.

Date Profile Completed: 10/9/2012, 06/30/2015; Updated, 07/26/2015, updated format 10/10/2017
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database
Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, as Palafoxia linearis var. gigantea.
The Jepson Manual, Citation: Tue Oct 9 18:19:22 2012
John L. Strother, FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 21 | Asteraceae | Palafoxia, Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford. (accessed 10/09/2012)
SEINet for synonyms, scientific names and recorded geographic locations,