Stephanomeria exigua, Small Wirelettuce
Scientific Name: Stephanomeria exigua
Common Name: Small Wirelettuce
Also Called: Skeletonplant, Wire Lettuce
Family: Asteraceae, Sunflower Family
Duration: Annual, rarely perennial or biennial
Size: 2 feet (61 cm) tall or more.
Growth Form: Forb/herb, subshrub plants erect to ascending; single slender stems, branches wide-spreading, smooth (glabrous) or sparsely covered with short, soft erect hairs (pubescent); relatively large taproots; plants with milky sap.
Leaves: Green, light green; alternate; blades linear to lanceolate; the lower leaves pinnatifid into linear divisions, upper or stem (cauline) leaves greatly reduced and bract-like, sessile; leaves withered at flowering.
Flower Color: White, pink or rose; flower heads ligulate flowers, 5 to 11 florets; heads solitary or clustered from nodes along branches, open panicle-like clusters; structure surrounding heads (involucre) may be smooth (glabrous), covered with minute soft erect hairs (puberulous) or stipitate-glandular; bracts around outer calyx (phyllaries) reflexed or pressed closely against the bracts (appressed); fruit a cypsela with white to tan feather-like (plumose ) hairs (bristles), feathery-like hairs on top (distal) 50 to 85 % only.
Flowering Season: April to September
Elevation: 2,000 to 8,000 feet (610-2,438 m)
Habitat Preferences: Plains, mesas and hillsides, desert scrub, often among shrubs, dry disturbed areas.
Recorded Range: Found in the southwest and the southern part of the northwest in the United States in AZ, CA, CO, ID, NM, NV, NY, OR, TX, UT, WY. This species also occurs in northern Baja California and Mexico. Most heavily represented in southeast California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona.
North America & US County Distribution Map for Stephanomeria exigua.
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.
The genus Stephanomeria was published by Thomas Nuttall, (1786-1859) in 1841.
In the Southwestern United States: Arizona has 6 species of Stephanomeria, California has 11 species, Nevada has 7 species, New Mexico and Utah each have 5 species and Texas has 4 species. All data approximate and subject to revision.
There are 5 sub-species in Stephanomeria exigua in the United States and northwest Baja California and Mexico;
Stephanomeria exigua ssp. carotifera, Whiteplume Wirelettuce, (CA);
Stephanomeria exigua ssp. coronaria, Whiteplume Wirelettuce, (CA, ID, NV, OR);
Stephanomeria exigua ssp. deanei, Deane's Wirelettuce, (CA);
Stephanomeria exigua ssp. exigua, Small Wirelettuce, AZ, CA, CO, NM, NV, TX, UT, WY);
Stephanomeria exigua ssp. macrocarpa, Whiteplume Wirelettuce, (CA).
Comments: Small Wirelettuce is an inconspicuous spindly and bland looking subshrub usually growing among other stronger shrubs. They are most noticeable because of the small white or pinkish flowers readily apparent. Growing among other vegetation provides Small Wirelettuce with shade and support.
They are not stand-out or otherwise showy plants as far as desert wildflowers go but their flowers are rather striking especially with the aid of a 10 power loop.
For excellent information on invertebrate conservation visit The Xerces Society.
The species epithet "exigua" means "little, poor in growth, or weak." Clear references to this species spindly appearance in the field.
See complete listing of ethno-botanical uses at Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn.