Stephanomeria exigua, Small Wirelettuce
Scientific Name: Stephanomeria exigua
Common Name: Small Wirelettuce
Also Called: Skeletonplant, Wire Lettuce
Family: Asteraceae, Sunflower Family
Size: 2 feet or more.
Growth Form: Forb/herb, subshrub; thin single stems, branching; may be smooth (glabrous) or slightly hairy; with milky sap.
Leaves: Green, light green; alternate; linear or lobed to pinnatifid (pinnately cut) below, leaves above (cauline) smaller or much reduced (bractlike); withered at flowering.
Flower Color: White, variable pink or rose; flowers are all strap-shaped (ligulate) and of the same size; fruit is a 5 ribbed achene with plumose bristles.
Flowering Season: April to September
Elevation: 2,000 to 8,000 feet
Habitat Preferences: Plains, mesas and hillsides, 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. Also occurs in Baja California. Most heavily represented in southeast California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona; In Arizona, Small Wirelettuce is recorded throughout most of the state.
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.
Stephanomeria exigua ssp. carotifera, Whiteplume Wirelettuce, CA only;
Stephanomeria exigua ssp. coronaria, Whiteplume Wirelettuce, CA, ID, NV, OR;
Stephanomeria exigua ssp. deanei, Deane's Wirelettuce, CA only;
Stephanomeria exigua ssp. exigua, Small Wirelettuce, AZ, CA, CO, NM, NV, NY, TX, UT, WY
Stephanomeria exigua ssp. macrocarpa, Whiteplume Wirelettuce, CA only.
Comments: Small Wirelettuce is an inconspicuous spindly and bland looking subshrub usually growing among other stronger shrubs and most noticeable if for no other reason than because of the small white or pinkish flowers readily apparent. Growing among other shrubs undoubtedly provides the plant with some 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. Small Wirelettuce flowers somewhat resemble the flowers of Desert Chicory.