Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

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

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Cryptantha ganderi, Gander's Cryptantha

Gander's Cryptantha has small flowers with white corolla and a tiny pale yellow center; flowers are few to clustered on plants. Cryptantha ganderi Gander's Cryptantha is named in honor of Frank Forest Gander (1899-1976); American botanist and zoologist in San Diego, California. Cryptantha ganderi Gander's Cryptantha has green leaves, linear to narrowly lanceolate with hairy bristles, some bulbous at the base. Cryptantha ganderi Gander's Cryptantha is a rare plant native to parts of AZ and CA. The plants bloom from January to May and grow at elevations from 500 to 1.200 feet. Cryptantha ganderi

Scientific Name: Cryptantha ganderi
Common Name: Gander's Cryptantha

Also Called: Dune Cat's-Eye

Family: Boraginaceae, Forget-Me-Not Family

Synonyms: ()

Status: Native

Duration: Annual

Size: Up to 15 inches more or less (40 cm)

Growth Form: Forb/herb; Plants stout, stems single or branching generally throughout, hairs straight and stiff, (strigose) and rough-hairy to bristly; hairs extending horizontally (spreading).

Leaves: Green; leaves not divided into leaflets (simple), with a smooth margins (entire); linear to narrowly-lanceolate; straight stiff hair (bristles) that are extending horizontally (spreading), some of the hairs are bulbous at the base; the base leaves are whorled, the stem leaves (cauline) are usually opposite below and alternate above.

Flower Color: White, flowers in 1's, occasionally clustered; flowering stem (inflorescence) a terminal (cyme); corolla mostly white with 5 minute secondary parts attached to the main structure (appendages) pale yellow in the center; sepals free; fruit a nutlet.

Flowering Season: January or February to May

Elevation: 500 to 1,200 feet (150-370 m).

Habitat Preferences: Deserts, sand dune, sandy open areas, silty fine sand, creosote bush communities and Sonoran desert scrub.

Recorded Range: Cryptantha ganderi is rare in the United States; it is found only in AZ and CA. In CA it is found in the Borrego Valley area and in AZ it is found in the Yuma area. It is also native to Baja California, Sonora and northwest Mexico.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Cryptantha ganderi.

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

Threatened/Endangered Information: In North America Cryptantha ganderi is listed as Rare Plant Rank: 1B.1; Rare, threatened, or endangered in California and elsewhere; 1: Seriously endangered in California. This species is known in CA from approximately five occurrences. Seriously threatened by development and vehicles.

Genus Information: In North America there are 117 species and 117 accepted taxa overall for Cryptantha. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 179 accepted species names and a further 142 scientific names of infraspecific rank for the genus.

In the Southwestern United States: Arizona has 37 species of genus, California has 60 species, Nevada has 44 species, New Mexico has 23 species, Texas has 15 species, Utah has 55 species. All data approximate and subject to revision.

The genus Cryptantha was published by Johann Georg Christian Lehmann in 1837.

Comments: Gander's Cryptantha is a small bristly species of Cryptantha that is listed as rare, either threatened or endangered in California. In Arizona it is limited in distribution to the dry sandy areas of the southwest corner of the state (Yuma County).

Members of the genus Cryptantha are collectively referred to as Cat’s Eyes or Popcorn Flowers.

Cryptantha species have typically white flowers in spikes like a scorpions (scorpioid) tail. They are often difficult to identify in the field or lab and a close examination (10x loupe or dissecting scope) of the flowers and the small seeds or nutlets is usually required.

Gander's Cryptantha is named in honor of Frank Forest Gander (1899-1976); American botanist and zoologist in San Diego, California.

In Southwest Desert Flora also see: Bearded Cryptantha, Cryptantha barbigera, Narrowstem Cryptantha, Cryptantha gracilis, Panamint Cryptantha, Johnsonella angustifolia (Cryptantha), Redroot Cryptantha, Cryptantha micrantha, Torrey's Cryptantha, Cryptantha torreyana, and Wingnut Cryptantha, Cryptantha pterocarya.

Importance to Wildlife, Birds and Livestock
Although seeds of Cryptantha ganderi are tiny, they may be eaten by ground foraging birds and small mammals.

Special Value to Native Bees, Butterflies and Insects
Cryptantha ganderi flowers may be visited by bees and other small insects.

The genus Cryptantha (Cryptan'tha:) is from the Greek word "kryto", meaning "to hide, hidden," and "anthos", meaning "flower"; together meaning "hidden flower", a reference to the first known species which had small inconspicuous flowers which self-fertilized without opening. The genus Cryptantha was published by Johann Georg Christian Lehmann in 1837.

The species epithet "ganderi" (gan'deri:) is named in honor of Frank Forest Gander (1899-1976), botanist and zoologist in San Diego, California.


Date Profile Completed: 02/13/2017, updated 03/11/2020
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search - (accessed 03/04/2020) - State seach for Cryptantha.
The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 03/04/2020).
Ronald B. Kelley, Michael G. Simpson & Kristen E. Hasenstab-Lehman 2012, Cryptantha ganderi, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora, /eflora/eflora_display.php?tid=21233, accessed on March 11, 2020.
The Jepson Desert Manual; 2002; Baldwin, Bruce G., et. al.; The Jepson Desert Manual: Vascular Plants of Southeastern California; p.199; Univ. of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, California
California Native Plant Society, Rare Plant Program. 2020. Inventory of Rare and Endangered Plants of California (online edition, v8-03 0.39). Website [accessed 11 March 2020].
The Calflora Database; (Accessed: Mar 10, 2020).
SEINet synonyms, scientific names, geographic locations, general information
Frank F. Gander; JSTOR Global Plants
Etymology:Michael L. Charters California Plant Names: Latin and Greek Meanings and Derivations; A Dictionary of Botanical and Biographical Etymology - (accessed 03/10/2020)