Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

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Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Hoffmannseggia glauca, Indian Rushpea

Indian Rushpea has showy flowers of yellow with orange and red. Note that the flowering stalk is glandular as is most of the plant. The 5 petals are not perfectly radially symmetrical. Hoffmannseggia glauca Indian Rushpea has mostly yellow flowers with some orange and they fade to red or orange-reddish when mature. Indian Rushpea blooms from April to September across its range. Hoffmannseggia glauca Indian Rushpea has bi-pinnately compound leaves each leaf containing between 4 and 13 leaflets. Leaves are glabrous or with minutely soft erect hairs as in the photo. Hoffmannseggia glauca Indian Rushpea or Hog Potato grows up to a foot (30 cm) or so but often is a low-growing plant whose flowering stalks usually grow upward. This plant grows up to 5,000 feet (1524 m) in elevation. Hoffmannseggia glauca

Scientific Name: Hoffmannseggia glauca
Common Name: Indian Rushpea

Also Called: Hog Potato, Pig Nut, Pignut, Shoestring Weed; Spanish: Camote (sweet potato) de Ratón (of the mouse))

Family: Fabaceae or Leguminosae Family

Synonyms: (Hoffmannseggia densiflora, Hoffmannseggia densiflora var. capitata, Hoffmannseggia densiflora var. demissa, Hoffmannseggia densiflora var. pringlei, Hoffmannseggia densiflora var. stricta, Hoffmannseggia falcaria, Hoffmannseggia falcaria var. stricta, Larrea glauca)

Status: Native to the Americas and southern Africa.

Duration: Perennial

Size: 12 inches (30 cm) or usually less.

Growth Form: Indian Rushpea is a Forb/herb or a subshrub; the plants are low growing and erect; branches are slender; note in the top photo that the plants have stalked glands; plants typically grow in colonies or patches, this is possible because the plants have deep tuberous roots.

Leaves: Green; leaves are compound, bipinnate with 4 to 13 secondary leaflets; leaves are glandular, glabrous or minutely puberulous.

Flower Color: Yellow, with orange and red; as with many other parts of the plants, the inflorescence is also glandular, form is a raceme often above the leaves; flower petals 5, spreading; note above that the flowers are not perfectly radially symmetrical; the fruits is also glandular and curved in shape.

Flowering Season: April to September; April to June in California and March to September in Texas.

Elevation: Below 5,000 feet (1,524 m); In California it is generally found below 3,000 feet (900 m).

Habitat Preferences: Dry alkaline desert soils, roadsides, irrigation areas, disturbed areas; in California it prefers alkaline desert flats, creosote bush communities, and disturbed areas.

Recorded Range: Indian Rushpea is found mostly in the southwestern United States in; AZ, CA, CO, KS, NM, NV OK, TX, UT. It is also native to Baja California and Mexico.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Hoffmannseggia glauca.

North America species range map for Hoffmannseggia glauca:

North America species range map for Hoffmannseggia glauca:
Click image for full size map.

U.S. Weed Information: In North America Hoffmannseggia glauca is listed in 46 states; and can be weedy or invasive according to the following authoritative sources:

  • Weeds of the United States and Canada,
  • Weeds of the West.
  • Plants included here may become weedy or invasive.

    Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: In North America Hoffmannseggia glauca is listed as a Noxious Weed by the state of Kansas.
    Plants included here are invasive or noxious.

    According to; Hoffmannseggia glauca is an Ecological Threat as it “can be weedy and can grow in bare disturbed soils along roadsides. The tuberous roots allow it to form large colonies.”

    Wetland Indicator: In North America Hoffmannseggia glauca has the following wetland designations:
  • Arid West, FACU
  • Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plain, FAC;
  • Great Plains, FAC;
  • Midwest, FACU;
  • Western Mountains, Valleys, and Coast, FACU;

  • FAC = Facultative, occur in wetlands and non-wetlands
    FACU = Facultative Upland, usually occur in non-wetlands, but may occur in wetlands
    FAC = Facultative, occur in wetlands and non-wetlands.

    Threatened/Endangered Information: Unknown

    Genus Information: In North America, USDA Plants Database lists 13 native species for Hoffmannseggia. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 32 accepted species names for the genus.

    The genus Hoffmannseggia was published in 1798 by José (Joseph) Antonio Cavanilles, (1745-1804). In the Southwestern United States: Arizona and New Mexico each have 5 species of Hoffmannseggia, California has 3 species, Nevada and Utah each have 2 species and Texas has 11 species. Data approximate, subject to revision.

    Comments: The genus Hoffmannseggia is commonly referred to as “rushpeas”. As with many species in the Fabaceae, the fruit are pods. Rushpeas are native to the North- and South-America and also to south Africa. The Spanish common name is Camote de Raton which translates to sweet potato of the mouse.

    In Southwest Desert Flora also see: Wand Holdback, Hoffmannseggia microphylla.

    Importance to Wildlife, Birds and Livestock
    Hoffmannseggia glauca 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
    Hoffmannseggia glauca has attractive flowers, the flowers and their plants may be visited or used by butterflies, moths, flies, honeybees, native bees and other insects in search of nectar, food or shelter and protection.

    The genus “Hoffmannseggia” is named in honor of Johann Centurius Hoffmann, Count of Hoffmannsegg (1766-1849), a German nobleman, botanist, entomologist, ornithologist and a co-author of a flora of Portugal.

    The genus Hoffmannseggia was published in 1798 by José (Joseph) Antonio Cavanilles, (1745-1804).

    The species epithet glauca is from the Greek word “glauca” which means bluish or bluish-gray which may be in reference to the cast or color of its leaves which are bluish-green.

    The Spanish common name Camote de Raton translates to Camote or “sweet potato” and de Raton “of the mouse”; and together “sweet potato of the mouse”.

    Ethnobotany - Native American Ethnobotany; University of Michigan - Dearborn
    Hoffmannseggia glauca is used for a multitude of purposes by southwestern United States indigenous peoples.
  • Apache Food, Unspecified; Potatoes roasted and eaten much more commonly in the past than currently.
  • Apache, Chiricahua & Mescalero Food, Unspecified; Roots eaten either raw or cooked.
  • Pima Food, Vegetable; Tubers boiled and eaten like potatoes.
  • Pueblo Food, Unspecified; Potatoes roasted and eaten much more commonly in the past than currently.
  • Pima, Gila River Food, Unspecified; Tubers eaten.

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

    Date Profile Completed: 04/12/2017, updated 11/18/2021
    References and additional information:
    Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, California, as Hoffmannseggia densiflora.
    U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search - (accessed 11/15/2021)
    The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 11/15/2021).
    Encyclopedia of Life; Hoffmannseggia glauca (Indian Rushpea) - (accessed 11/16/2021).
    Calscape, California Native Plant Society; Pig-nut, Hoffmannseggia glauca - (accessed 11/16/2021).
    Wikipedia contributors. "Hoffmannseggia." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 6 May. 2021. Web. 15 Nov. 2021.
    Wikipedia contributors, 'Hoffmannseggia glauca', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 6 May 2021, 06:07 UTC, [accessed 16 November 2021]; Hogpotato, Hoffmannseggia glauca (Ortega) Eifert - (accessed 11/16/2021).
    Native Plant Information Network, NPIN (2013). Published on the Internet [accessed: 11/15/2021]. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas, Austin, TX.
    Beryl B. Simpson "A Revision of Hoffmannseggia (Fabaceae) in North America," Lundellia 1999(2), 14-54, (1 December 1999). (accessed 11/16/2021).
    Etymology: Michael L. Charters California Plant Names: Latin and Greek Meanings and Derivations; A Dictionary of Botanical and Biographical Etymology - (accessed 11/15/2021)
    SEINet synonyms, scientific names, geographic locations, general information - (accessed 11/15/2021).