Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

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

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Matelea parvifolia, Spearleaf

Spearleaf or Littleleaf Matelea is a shrub or vine with greenish-purplish flowers solitary or in pairs. Matelea parvifoliaSpearleaf or Littleleaf Matelea has green leaves that are deltoid-oblong and shallowly hastate or sub-hastate at the base. Matelea parvifoliaSpearleaf vine grows up to 1 ½ feet or more via twining vines and a fine pubescence. Note the follicle capsule with longitudinal grooves; somewhat reminiscent of the traditional Milkweed pod. Matelea parvifoliaSpearleaf or Littleleaf Matelea is a twining vine that climbers over nearby plants for support. This Spearleaf is climbing on a Banana Yucca (Yucca baccata). Matelea parvifolia

Scientific Name: Matelea parvifolia
Common Name: Spearleaf,
Also Called: Littleleaf Matelea, Small-leaf Anglepod
Family: Asclepiadaceae, Milkweed Family
Synonyms: (Gonolobus californicus, Gonolobus parvifolius)
Status: Native
Duration: Perennial
Size: Up to 1½ feet or more via twining vines with slender stems.
Growth Form: Shrub, vine; plants with a milky sap, pubescent; twining vines from a woody base.
Leaves: Green; deltoid-oblong; shallowly hastate or sub-hastate as base.
Flower Color: Greenish to purple; flowers solitary or in pairs, nearly sessile, corolla 3 to 4mm long; less than 2cm long, not more than1 cm wide; fruit a follicle with longitudinal grooves.
Flowering Season: March to October; March to May in California.
Elevation: 1,500 to 4,500 feet; 2,000 to 3,000 feet in California.

Habitat Preferences: Dry rocky slopes, desert scrub, mountains, mesas and canyons.

Recorded Range: Matelea parvifolia is relatively rare in the United States where it is found in widely scattered populations in AZ, CA, TX. It is also native to Baja California and northern Mexico. In Arizona it is found in the western part of the state in La Paz, Mohave and Yuma counties; in the central and southern parts of the state in Gila, Maricopa, Pinal, Yavapai and Pima counties.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Matelea parvifolia.

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 32 species and 32 accepted taxa overall for Matelea. World wide, The Plant List includes 259 accepted species names and includes a further 9 infraspecific rank for the genus.

In the Southwestern United States: Arizona has 5 species of Matelea, California has 1 species, Nevada and Utah each have 0 species, New Mexico has 2 species, Texas has 15 species. All data is approximate and subject to taxonomic changes.

Comments: Spearleaf, Matelea parvifolia, is similar in appearance to Texas Milkvine, Matelea producta, however the leaves and flowers are larger on Texas Milkvine.

Date Profile Completed: 10/26/2016, updated format 10/08/2017
Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, California as Gonolobus parvifolius.
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search - (accessed 10/17/2016)
The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 10/17/2016).
Sundell, Eric. 1994. Asclepiadaceae. Journal of the Arizona-Nevada Academy of Science; Volume 27, 169-187.
1993, The Jepson Manual, Citation: (accessed 10/17/2016),604,605
SEINet for synonyms, scientific names, recorded geographic locations and general information 10/17/2016).