Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

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

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Dimorphocarpa wislizeni, Spectaclepod

Spectaclepod has somewhat showy white flowers against rather drab light colored greenish-white leaves and stems. Plants bloom from February to October. Dimorphocarpa wislizeniSpectaclepod is so named because of its spectacular fruits resembling a pair of round eyeglasses. All members of the genus have similar fruits. Dimorphocarpa wislizeni Spectaclepod has light green leaves, alternate; linear or oval lanceolate in shape with deeply dentate margins (some leaves are entire). Note leaves have dense pubescence (pubescence consists of star-like or stellate hairs). Dimorphocarpa wislizeni Spectaclepod is an erect annual with stems, few or none, branching from the base. Note that the stems are leafy. The photo shows a plant growing in its preferred sandy soil habitat. Dimorphocarpa wislizeni Spectaclepod is a native annual preferring sandy soil often along streams and dry washes. Spectaclepod grows at elevations from 1,000 to 6,500 in the southwestern United States. Dimorphocarpa wislizeni

Scientific Name: Dimorphocarpa wislizeni
Common Name: Spectaclepod
Also Called: Spectacle Pod, Touristplant, Wislizeni's Spectaclepod
Family: Brassicaceae or Cruciferae, Mustard Family
Synonyms: (Biscutella wislizeni, Dithyrea griffithsii, Dithyrea wislizeni, Dithyrea wislizeni var. griffithsii)
Duration: Annual
Size: Up to 1½ feet or more.
Growth Form: Forb/herb; stems leafy, unbranched or branched at base; erect; plants densely pubescent with small stellate hairs.
Leaves: Green; pubescence of star-like or stellate hairs; alternate; cauline leaves linear-lanceolate to ovate-lanceolate; margins deeply sinuate-dentate to nearly entire.
Flower Color: White or lavender; filaments white; fruit notched below, canescent or glabrous.
Flowering Season: February to October.
Elevation: 1,000 to 6,000 feet; 2,500 to 6,500 feet in California.

Habitat Preferences: Sandy soil often along streams and roadsides, sandstone knolls, dry washes, desert flats.

Recorded Range: Spectaclepod is found primarily in the southwestern United States in AZ, CO, NM, NV, TX, UT. It is also native to northwest Mexico.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Dimorphocarpa wislizeni.

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 3 species and 3 accepted taxa overall for Dimorphocarpa. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 4 accepted species names and a further 2 of infraspecific rank for the genus.

In the Southwestern United States: Arizona has 2 species of genus, California has 0 Dimorphocarpa, Nevada has 1 species, New Mexico has 2 species, Texas has 2 species, Utah has 1 species. All data is approximate and subject to taxonomic changes.

Comments: Spectaclepod is a reference to the fruits of the genus which may resemble eyeglasses or "spectacle" pods.
Native American Ethnobotany: Dimorphocarpa wislizeni has been used as a ceremonial medicine, dermatological aid and other interesting uses by southwestern American indigenous peoples.
  • Apache, White Mountain Drug, Ceremonial Medicine; Infusion of plant taken at medicine ceremonies.
  • Apache, White Mountain Drug, Dermatological Aid; Infusion of plant used as wash for swellings.
  • Apache, White Mountain Drug, Throat Aid; Infusion of plant used as wash for throat troubles.
  • Hopi Drug, Dermatological Aid; Ground stalk used as a salve for all kinds of sores.
  • Hopi Other, Toys & Games; Plant, a powerful irritant, placed in armpit as a practical joke.
  • Keres, Western Drug, Nose Medicine; Crushed seeds and leaves inhaled for catarrh or sore nose.
  • Navajo, Kayenta Drug, Dermatological Aid; Infusion of plant taken and used as lotion for centipede or sand cricket bites.
  • Zuni Drug, Dermatological Aid; Warm infusion of pulverized plant applied to swelling, especially the throat.
  • Zuni Drug, Psychological Aid; Infusion of plant taken by men to 'loosen their tongues so they may talk like fools & drunken men.' It was said that this infusion should never be given to women because they 'should not be made to talk too much.'

  • See ethno-botanical uses at Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn.
    The specific epithet "wislizeni" is used in honor of Friedrich Adolph Wislizenus (21 May 1810 – 23 September 1889) a German-born American MD, explorer and botanist. He is best known for his printed recollections from travels to Northern Mexico and today's state of New Mexico. The genus "Dimorphocarpa" comes from Greek or Latin roots: "di" or two; "morph" form or shape, and "carpo" or fruit, referring to the look of the seed pods.
    Date Profile Completed: 04/07/2017, updated format 10/11/2017
    Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, California.
    U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search - (accessed 04/07/2017)
    The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 04/07/2017).
    MacDougall 1973, Heil et al.; FNA 2010, 2013, Allred and Ivey 2012; (Al-Shehbaz 2017) Jepson eFlora
    Native Plant Information Network, NPIN (2013). Published on the Internet [accessed: 04/07/2017]. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas, Austin, TX.
    Ihsan A. Al-ShehbazFNA FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 7 | Brassicaceae | Dimorphocarpa 3. Dimorphocarpa wislizeni (Engelmann) Rollins, Publ. Bussey Inst. Harvard Univ. 1979: 24. 1979. (as wislizenii).; Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford.
    SEINet synonyms, scientific names, geographic locations, general information - (accessed 04/07/2017).
    Wikipedia contributors, 'Friedrich Adolph Wislizenus', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 19 March 2017, 02:59 UTC, [accessed 7 April 2017]