Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

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

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Rafinesquia californica, California Chicory

Rafinesquia californica, California Chicory, Southwest Desert Flora Rafinesquia californica, California Chicory, Southwest Desert Flora Rafinesquia californica, California Chicory, Southwest Desert Flora

Scientific Name: Rafinesquia californica
Common Name: California Chicory
Also Called: California Chicory, California Plumseed
Family: Asteraceae, Sunflower Family
Synonyms: ( )
Status: Native
Duration: Annual
Size: Up to 2 feet or more.
Growth Form: Forb/herb; erect, one or more stems from base, branching; milky sap; all parts smooth (glabrous).
Leaves: Green or light green; 2 to 6 inches long, various shapes, margins toothed or pinnately lobed.
Flower Color: White showy solitary flower heads on tips of flowering branches; medium size flowers about 1 ½ inches; ray flowers strap-shaped; bracts or phyllaries on outer side of flowering head shorter than the white receptacle flowers; fruit is an achene.
Flowering Season: March to May.
Elevation:3,000 to 4,500 feet.

Habitat Preferences: Shrubby slopes, open woods, deserts, common after fires.

Recorded Range: Not a common plant in the southwestern United States where it can be found in AZ, CA, NV, UT and small populations in Oregon. This species is also found in northern Mexico and Baja California. In Arizona, California Chicory is found primarily in the upper deserts in the northeast, central and southern parts of the state.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Rafinesquia californica.

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: 2 species in Rafinesquia in the southwestern United States and Oregon. Both species are native to Arizona.

Comments: California Chicory is a showy spring bloomer found at higher elevations than its close and similar looking relative, New Mexico Plumeseed, Rafinesquia neomexicana. California Chicory blooms a little later in the spring. Other differences involve the lengths of the white florets and the outer bracts (phyllaries) which grow side by side.

In California Chicory, the white and pinkish colored bracts are slightly but noticeably shorter than the length of the white florets.

Another similar species is the more common Tackstem, Calycoseris wrightii has larger white flowers and visible tack-shaped glands under the flower head. The name Chicory is a result of its similarity to the flowers of Common Chicory, Cichorium intybus which is bright blue and found throughout Arizona and the United States.

Date Profile Completed: 8/13/2014; Updated, 07/26/2015, updated format 10/11/2017
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
1993, The Jepson Manual, Citation: (accessed 8/13/2014)
L. D. Gottlieb, FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 19, 20 and 21 | Asteraceae | Rafinesquia, FNA Vol. 19, 20 and 21 Page 348, 349, Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford. (accessed 8/13/2014)
Wikipedia contributors. "Rafinesquia californica." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 17 Mar. 2013. Web. 13 Aug. 2014.
SEINet for synonyms, scientific names and recorded geographic locations,