Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

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

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Xylorhiza tortifolia, Mojave Woodyaster

Mojave Woodyaster has showy flowers that may be lavender, pale violet, pale blue or whitish. These flowers bloom from March to May and then again in October following sufficient monsoon rainfall. Xylorhiza tortifolia Mojave Woodyaster is a perennial species with multiple branches from a woody base or caudex. Flowers bloom on the tips of a long naked stem. Note previous years dried flower stems. Xylorhiza tortifolia Mojave Woodyaster is a native shrubby plant that grows at elevations between 2,000 and 3,500 feet in Arizona and from 700 to 6,500 feet in California. Photo taken near Bagdad, Arizona. Xylorhiza tortifolia Mojave Woodyaster has green leaves up to a maximum of 4 inches long with a soft hairy glandular pubescence and spiny teeth along the leaf margins. Xylorhiza tortifolia Mojave Woodyaster green bracts or “phyllaries” subtending an aster flower typically hold key diagnostic characteristics of the species. In this species the “phyllaries” are long and narrow ,and glandular and hairy (note glandular dots and aphid feasting on the viscid secretions’). Xylorhiza tortifolia

Scientific Name: Xylorhiza tortifolia
Common Name: Mojave Woodyaster
Also Called: Imberis Woodyaster, Mohave Aster, Mojave Aster, Parashant Woodyaster
Family: Asteraceae, Sunflower Family
Synonyms: (Aster abatus, Haplopappus tortifolius, Machaeranthera tortifolia)
Status: Native
Duration: Perennial
Size: Up to 2 feet or so.
Growth Form: Forb/herb, subshrub; plants with multiple branches from woody base (caudex); long stems with non-glandular hairs and shorter stalked glands.
Leaves: Green; leaves up to 4 inches long; leaves soft hairy, with glandular hair, spiny-toothed; leaf shape variable from lanceolate, oblanceolate, or elliptic.
Flower Color: Lavender, pale lavender, pale violet, blue or whitish-blue; flowers radiate with both ray and disk florets; large showy flowers on long stems (peduncle) up to 8 inches; phyllaries are hairy and glandular; fruit an achene.
Flowering Season: March to May and again in October following sufficient monsoon rainfall.
Elevation: 2,000 to 3,500 feet; 700 to 6,500 feet in California.

Habitat Preferences: Dry rocky slopes, canyons and mesas.

Recorded Range: Xylorhiza tortifolia is found in the southwestern United States in AZ, CA, NV, UT. In Arizona it is found in the western ⅔ of the state, in Navajo County and with few or no records in Gila and Maricopa counties.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Xylorhiza tortifolia.

U.S. Weed Information: No information available.
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: No information available.
Wetland Indicator: No information available.
Threatened/Endangered Information: No information available.

Genus Information: In North America there are 8 species and 14 accepted taxa overall for Xylorhiza. World wide, The Plant List includes 10 accepted species names and includes a further 13 infraspecific rank for the genus.

In the Southwestern United States: Arizona has 1 species of Xylorhiza, California has 3 species, Nevada has 1 species, New Mexico has 0 species, Texas has 1 species, Utah has 5 species. All data is approximate and subject to taxonomic changes.

There are 3 varieties in Xylorhiza tortifolia;
Xylorhiza tortifolia var. imberbis, Imberis Woodyaster (AZ, NV, UT);
Xylorhiza tortifolia var. parashantensis, Parashant Woodyaster (AZ);
Xylorhiza tortifolia var. tortifolia, Mojave Woodyaster (AZ, CA, NV, UT).

Comments: Xylorhiza tortifolia is a member of Asteraceae family that has moved over the years from one genus to another (Aster, Haplopappus, Machaeranthera, Xylorhiza).

Xylorhiza tortifolia has been used as a fragrance by North American indigenous peoples.
Havasupai Other, Incense & Fragrance, Ground leaves carried in the clothes and used as perfume by men and women to counteract body odors.

See ethno-botanical uses at Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn.

Date Profile Completed: 12/06/2016, updated format 10/11/2017
Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, California, as Aster abatus.
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search - (accessed 12/06/2016)
The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 12/06/2016).
Guy L. Nesom, FNA | FNA Family List | FNA Vol. 20 | Asteraceae | Xylorhiza | Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford.
Native Plant Information Network, NPIN (2013). Published on the Internet [accessed: 12/06/2016]. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas, Austin, TX.
1993, The Jepson Manual, Citation: (accessed 12/06/2016),1982,0,1985
SEINet synonyms, scientific names, geographic locations, general information - (accessed 12/06/2016).