Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

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

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Zinnia acerosa, Desert Zinnia

Zinnia acerosa, Desert Zinnia, Southwest Desert Flora Zinnia acerosa, Desert Zinnia, Southwest Desert Flora Zinnia acerosa, Desert Zinnia, Southwest Desert Flora

Scientific Name: Zinnia acerosa
Common Name: Desert Zinnia
Also Called: Shrubby Zinnia, Spinyleaf Zinnia, Wild Zinnia (Spanish: Zinia, Hierba del Burro)
Family: Asteraceae, Sunflower Family
Synonyms: (Zinnia pumila)
Status: Native
Duration: Perennial
Size: About 10 inches more or less.
Growth Form: Forb/herb, subshrub; woody base, low mounding.
Leaves: Green; opposite; stiff linear to needle shaped (acerate); margins entire.
Flower Color: White, off white, or pale yellow; radiate 1 inch flower heads; ray flowers 4 to 7, disk flowers 8 or more mostly yellow, some tinged in purple; numerous flower heads on 1.5 inch stalks (peduncles); fruit is an achene.
Flowering Season: April to October following monsoon rainfall.
Elevation: 2,500 to 5,000 feet.

Habitat Preferences: Dry rocky slopes, mesas, caliche soils.

Recorded Range: In the United States, Desert Zinnia is limited in distribution to central and southern Arizona with much smaller isolated populations in NM, TX and UT. It is also found in northern Mexico.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Zinnia acerosa.

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: 4 native species in Zinnia in the United States, primarily in the southwest, 3 invasive species. The genus Zinnia is sub-tropical or tropical plants found mainly in Mexico and Central America.

Comments: Desert Zinnia has the heart of its United States population in Arizona. Its flowers readily attract insects especially butterflies. Desert Zinnia differs from the similar Rocky Mountain Zinnia, Zinna multiflora, which has bright yellow flowers. As with other Zinnia’s, Desert Zinnia is a popular arid landscape plant in Arizona and the southwest.

Also see in Southwest Desert Flora: Rocky Mountain Zinnia, Zinnia grandiflora and Peruvian Zinnia, Zinnia peruviana.

A paste made from the crushed plant was used for swellings or aches. See species account from Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn.

Date Profile Completed: 8/2/2012; Updated, 07/26/2015, updated format 10/11/2017
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database - Integrated Taxonomic Information System, ITIS, Thu Aug 2 2012 08:46:04 MDT,
Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, as Zinnia pumila.
Alan R. Smith, FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 21 | Asteraceae | Zinnia, Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford. (accessed 08/02/2012)
SEINet for synonyms, scientific names and recorded geographic locations,