Growth Form:Forb/herb or Subshrub; plants low-growing; rounded or flat-topped mound; bases somewhat woody; numerous slender stems; stems with rough texture.
Leaves: Leaves; green to gray-green; blades narrowly linear, needle-like; leaves also with rough texture from fine sharp coarse hairs (strigose); leaves opposite.
Flower Color: Bright yellow or yellow-orange; numerous 1.5 inch (3.81) flowers; long bloom periods; floral heads with both ray and diskflorets; fruit is a cypsela.
Flowering Season: August to September following monsoon rainfall.
Elevation: 2,000 to 5,500 feet (610-1,676 m)
Habitat Preferences: Dry habitats, slopes, mesas, sandy and gravelly areas, disturbed areas, grasslands, prairies; limestone, calcareous and caliche soils.
Recorded Range: Rocky Mountain Zinnia, Zinnia grandiflora is native to AZ, CO, NM, OK, UT and TX. The largest populations are found in AZ, NM, TX. This species is also native to northern and central Mexico; Chihuahua, Coahuila, Sonora, Tamaulipas, Nuevo León and Zacatecas.
Genus Information: In North America there are 4native species and 1 accepted taxa overall for Zinnia; there are 3 introduced species. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 22 accepted species names and a further 13 scientific names of infraspecific rank for Zinnia.
In the Southwestern United States: Arizona, Texas and Utah each have 3 species of Zinnia, California and Nevada each have 0 species, New Mexico has 2 species. Data approximate, subject to revision.
Comments: Rocky Mountain Zinnia blooms late summer particularly following excellent monsoon rainfall, and it is often seen in small groups. As with other native Zinnia’s, Rocky Mountain Zinnia is a popular arid landscape plant in Arizona and the southwest. Zinnia flowers are known to attract insects especially butterflies as noted below. Closely related to the white flowered Desert Zinnia, Zinnia acerosa which sometimes has pale yellow flowers.
Rocky Mountain Zinnia, Zinnia grandiflora has attractive flowers, the flowers, their seeds and plants may be visited by hummingbirds and/or small mammals including rodents and granivorous birds in search of food, nectar and protection through cover.
Beneficial Value to Butterflies, Honey Bees and Insects
Rocky Mountain Zinnia, Zinnia grandiflora has attractive flowers that, according to the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, attracts butterflies and moths, syrphid flies and the pollen attracts butterflies, moths, honeybees, native bees, nectar bees, nectar butterflies, nectar moths and other insects in search of nectar, food or shelter and protection.
****Special Value to Native Bees****
According to The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, Rocky Mountain Zinnia, Zinnia grandiflora, is recognized by pollination ecologists as attracting large numbers of Native bees. Click here for more information on their Pollinator Conservation Program.
The genus “Zinnia” is from Johann Gottfried Zinn, (1727–1759), a German anatomist and botanist. Mr. Zinn was also a member of the Berlin Academy. It was a botanist, Carl Linnaeus, (1707-1778) who named a genus of flowers in the family Asteraceae, native from Mexico, as “Zinnia” in his honor.
The species epithet “grandiflora” (grandiflor'a:) large-flowered.
Rocky Mountain Zinnia, Zinnia grandiflora is used for a multitude of purposes by southwestern United States indigenous peoples.
Keres, Western Drug, Kidney Aid, Wester Drug, Other; Hot infusion of plant drunk for kidney trouble and Infusion of plant used as a bath for excessive sweating.
Keres, Western Dye, Yellow; Flowers rubbed into buckskin as a yellow dye and Flowers, ground with white clay or mixed with warm water, used as yellow dye for wool.
Keres, Western Other, Paint; Flowers ground into a paste and used as a dark red body paint.
Navajo Drug, Nose and Throat Medicine; Plant used for nose and throat troubles.
Navajo, Ramah Drug, Analgesic, Ramah Drug, Cathartic, Ramah Drug, Ceremonial Medicine; Decoction of plant taken for stomachache, heartburn and as a cathartic and Decoction of plant taken as a cathartic and Plant used as a ceremonial emetic.
Navajo, Ramah Drug, Emetic, Ramah Drug, Gastrointestinal Aid; Plant used as a ceremonial emetic and Decoction of plant taken for stomachache or heartburn.
Zuni Drug, Dermatological Aid, Drug, Diaphoretic, Drug, Eye Medicine, Drug, Febrifuge; Poultice of powdered plant applied to bruises and Plant used in a sweatbath for fever and Cold infusion of blossoms used as an eyewash and Smoke from powdered plant inhaled in sweatbath for fever.
See complete listing of ethno-botanical uses at Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn.