Growth Form:Forb/herb; plants grayish-green; mostly upright (erect) and often through, or supported by other shrubs; one or more purplish stems from base, delicate zig-zag stems; milky sap, all parts hairless (glabrous).
Flowering Season: February and March to May or June
Elevation: 200 to 3,500 feet (61-1,067 m)
Habitat Preferences: Lower and upper desert areas in various habitats, arid plains, mesas, sandy soils, gravelly areas and along washes; Creosote (Larrea) Bush and Joshua-tree communities.
Recorded Range: New Mexico Plumeseed is found in AZ, CA, NM, NV, TX, UT, and is also native to northern and central Baja California and northwest Mexico. New Mexico Plumeseed is found primarily in southeastern CA, southern NV and central, western and northeastern AZ.
Genus Information: In North America there are 2 species and 2 accepted taxa overall for Rafinesquia. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 6 accepted species names and a further 2 scientific names of infraspecific rank for the genus.
In the Southwestern United States: Arizona, California, Nevada and Utah each have 2 species of Rafinesquia, New Mexico and Texas each have 1 species. Data approximate and subject to revision.
Comments: New Mexico Plumeseed or Desert Chicory is a showy conspicuous spring bloomer of the lower deserts following adequate winter rainfall. This species is found in both the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts.
In Southwest Desert Flora also see two similar species are California Plumeseed, Rafinesquia californica and Tackstem, Calycoseris wrightii. In Arizona, California Plumeseed is less abundant in distribution and has smaller flower heads. Tackstem is found in the same habitats but it has visible tack-shaped herbage from translucent oil glands under the flower heads.
Importance to Wildlife, Birds and Livestock
Rafinesquia neomexicana, New Mexico Plumeseed' bright white showy flowers, and their seeds and plants may be visited by hummingbirds and/or small mammals including rodents and granivorous birds in search of nectar or food. According to Michael J. Plagens, author of www.arizonensis.org, Red-eared Blister Beetles will “descend in mass to feed on the succulent petals.”
Beneficial Value to Butterflies, Bees and Insects
Rafinesquia neomexicana, New Mexico Plumeseed' bright white showy flowers, and their plants may be visited by butterflies, moths, native bees and other insects in search of food and nectar.
The common 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. Click here to view those flowers.
The species epithet “New Mexico Plumeseed” from the State of New Mexico.