Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

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

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Porophyllum ruderale ssp. macrocephalum, Yerba Porosa

Scientific Name: Porophyllum ruderale ssp. macrocephalum
Common Name: Yerba Porosa

Also called: Bolivian Coriander, Poreleaf, Summer Cilantro; Spanish; Papaloquelite,, Papalo, Quilquiña,

Family: Asteraceae, Sunflower Family

Synonyms: (Kleinia glandulosa, Porophyllum ellipticum, Porophyllum latifolium, Porophyllum macrocephalum, Porophyllum ruderale subsp. macrocephalum)

Status: Native

Duration: annual

Size: 12 to 20 inches (30-51 cm) tall or more 3 feet (1 m) in Mexico and South America

Growth Form: Forb/herb; plants upright (erect) with branches ascending, several stems and aromatic herbage from translucent oil glands.

Leaves: Green or pale green; leaves rounded or obovate; leaves with oil glands on the scalloped leaf edges (margins).

Flower Color: Green, yellow or purplish; disk florets only; flower heads few to many; bracts surrounding heads narrowly linear with translucent oil glands; fruit is a cypsela.

Flowering Season: August to October or November, following sufficient monsoon rainfall.

Elevation: 3,500 to 5,000 feet (1,067-1,524 m)

Habitat Preferences: Damp moist areas in rocky slopes and canyons.

Recorded Range: In the United States, Yerba Porosa is rare, native to AZ, NM, TX and south through Mexico, Central and South America and the West Indies. In the United States this species is found primarily in AZ with small populations in NM and TX. Although rare in the United States, this species has been introduced in CA and it is classified as an agriculture weed.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Porophyllum ruderale ssp macrocephalum.

North America species range map for Yerba Porosa, Porophyllum ruderale ssp macrocephalum:

North America species range map for Yerba Porosa, Porophyllum ruderale ssp macrocephalum: Click image for full size 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 are 6 species and 6 accepted taxa overall for Porophyllum. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 28 accepted species names and a further 35 scientific names of infraspecific rank for the genus.

The genus Porophyllum was published in 1763 by Adanson, Michel (1727-1806) in 1763.

In the Southwestern United States: Arizona, California and Nevada each have 2 species of Porophyllum, New Mexico has 3 species, Texas has 4 species and Utah has 1 species. Data approximate and subject to revision.

There are 2 sub-species in Porophyllum ruderale;
Porophyllum ruderale ssp. macrocephalum, Yerba Porosa; (AZ, NM, TX);
Porophyllum ruderale ssp. ruderale, Yerba Porosa, (Porto Rico, Virgin Islands).

Comments: Although Yerba Porosa grows wild in Arizona, it (Papaloquelite) is a popular cultivated condiment in Mexico and South America with a distinctive somewhat strong flavor similar to cilantro. It is used fresh, never cooked, in many foods such as tacos, soups and salads. Its multiple common names are a tribute to the popularity of this herb in Mexico and South America.

In Southwest Desert Flora also see the related species Slender Poreleaf, Porophyllum gracile.

Importance to Wildlife, Birds and Livestock
Yerba Porosa, Porophyllum ruderale ssp. macrocephalum has small but showy tubular flowers, and their seeds and plants may be visited by hummingbirds and/or small mammals including rodents and granivorous birds in search of food, nectar, shelter and protection through cover.

Yerba Porosa, Porophyllum ruderale ssp. macrocephalum has small but showy tubular flowers, and their plants may be visited by butterflies, moths, native bees and other insects in search of nectar and/or other food.

The genus “Porophyllum” is from the Greek word “poros”, meaning hole, and “phyllon”, meaning leaf, and thus a reference to the gland-dotted leaves.

The genus Porophyllum was published in 1763 by Adanson, Michel (1727-1806) in 1763.

The species epithet macrocephalum is from Latin word ‘macro’ meaning “large” and ‘cephalum’ meaning “a blockhead,” thus having a large head;

the specific sub-species epithet “ruderale” is from the Latin word ‘rudus’ meaning “rubble” or ruderale, and thus growing in disturbed areas.


Date Profile Completed: 10/24/2012;updated 09/27/2020
Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, as Porophyllum macrocephalum.
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search; accessed 09/29/2020.
The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet;; accessed 09/29/2020.
Ana María Hanan Alipi, Juana Mondragón Pichardo, Heike Vibrans; June 14,2009; Weeds from Mexico;; accessed 09/30/2020.
John L. Strother,FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 21 | Asteraceae, Porophyllum; 5a. Porophyllum ruderale (Jacquin) Cassini var. macrocephalum (de Candolle) Cronquist, Madroño. 20: 255. 1970.; Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford.
Kearney and Peebles 1969, McDougall 1973, Shreve and Wiggins, 1964; Editors: L.Crumbacher 2011, F.S.Coburn 2015; from SEINet Field Guide, on-line; accessed 09/30/2020.
David J. Keil 2012, Porophyllum ruderale var. macrocephalum, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora, /eflora/eflora_display.php?tid=8089, accessed on September 30, 2020.
Native Plant Information Network, NPIN (2013). Published on the Internet; accessed 09/30/2020. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas, Austin, TX.
Wikipedia contributors, 'Porophyllum ruderale', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 6 July 2020, 14:04 UTC, [accessed 30 September 2020]
Seiler, John, Peterson, John, North American species range map courtesy of Virginia Tech, Dept. of Forest Resources & Environmental Conservation
SEINet synonyms, scientific names, geographic locations, general information.
IPNI (2020). International Plant Names Index. Published on the Internet, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Harvard University Herbaria & Libraries and Australian National Botanic Gardens. [Retrieved 29 September 2020].