Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

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

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Baileya pleniradiata, Woolly Desert Marigold

Woolly Desert Marigold has large, up to 2 inches (5 cm), yellow flowers with both ray and disk florets. Baileya pleniradiata Woolly Desert Marigold: the bracts or phyllaries surrounding the heads have linear soft woolly hairs (tomentose), thus the alternative common name Woolly Desert-marigold. Baileya pleniradiata Woolly Desert Marigold has single flower heads on long  5 inch (12 cm) naked stems as shown in the photo below. Baileya pleniradiata Woolly Desert Marigold has greenish-silver leaves that are woolly or canescent-tomentose; the lower leaf blades are pinnately lobed while the upper blade lobes are much reduced. Baileya pleniradiata Woolly Desert Marigold: the flowering season begins February to June and again October to November (2 blooming seasons); preferred elevations range from 300 to 6,000 feet (100-1,800 m). Baileya pleniradiata

Scientific Name: Baileya pleniradiata
Common Name: Woolly Desert Marigold

Also Called: Desertmarigold Baileya, Woolly Desert-marigold

Family: Asteraceae, Sunflower Family

Synonyms: (Baileya multiradiata var. pleniradiata, Baileya perennis)

Status: Native

Duration: Annual, biennial or short-lived perennial.

Size: Up to 18 inches (46 cm) more or less.

Growth Form: Forb/herb; this species forms clumps of gray woolly plants covered with dense, fine grayish-white hairs, (tomentose); branching at base.

Leaves: Greenish-gray or silvery-green leaves; mostly basal and on lower stems, woolly or canescent-tomentose; lower leaf blades pinnately lobed, upper leaf blade lobes reducing; basal leaves wither early.

Flower Color: Bright yellow, showy, up to 2 inches (5 cm); single flower heads (solitary); flowering stems (inflorescence) on long 5 inch (12 cm) naked stems; bracts or phyllaries have soft woolly hairs (floccose)-(tomentose); heads with both ray (20 to 40 tips slightly 3-toothed) and disk (40 to 50) florets (radiate); fruit is a cypsela which does not have a pappus.

Flowering Season: February to June, again October to November (2 blooming seasons)

Elevation: 300 to 6,000 feet (100-1,800 m)

Habitat Preferences: Open sunny areas, plains, mesas, hillsides, roadsides, sandy soils and gravelly washes.

Recorded Range: Woolly Desert Marigold is found in the southwest United States in AZ, CA, NM, NV, UT and in northern Baja California and northwest Mexico. It is found throughout most of Arizona.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Baileya pleniradiata.

North America species range map for Baileya pleniradiata:
North American range map courtesy of Virginia Tech, Dept. of Forest Resources & Environmental Conservation

North America species range map for Baileya pleniradiata: Click image for full size map
Click image for full size map

U.S. Weed Information: Unknown
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: Unknown
Wetland Indicator: Unknown
Threatened/Endangered Information: Unknown

Genus Information: In North America there are 3 species and 3 accepted taxa overall for Baileya. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 3 accepted species names with 8 infraspecific rank for the genus.

The genus Baileya was published by William Henry Harvey and Asa Gray in 1848.

In the Southwestern United States: Arizona, California and Utah each have 3 species of Baileya, Nevada and New Mexico each have 2 species, Texas has 1 species. All data approximate and subject to revision.

Comments: Woolly Desert Marigold is a yellow, showy daisy-like flower throughout much of Arizona but more common in the southern part of the state. It is very similar and somewhat difficult to distinguish from its closely related sister Desert Marigold, Baileya multiradiata, Woolly Desert Marigold however has shorter, more oval ray flowers and fewer disk flowers. According to Flora of North America, both species can be observed in the area and hybrids have not been recorded. I have also observed this to be the case.

In Southwestern Desert Flora also see Woolly Desert Marigold, Baileya multiradiata.

Importance to Wildlife, Birds and Livestock
Seeds of Baileya pleniradiata may likely be eaten by birds and small mammals.

Special Value to Native Bees, Butterflies and Insects
Woolly Desert Marigold and other "Daisy" type Asters may by visited by butterflies and other small insects.

The genus Baileya (Bai'leya:) is named in honor of Jacob Whitman Bailey (1811-1857), an early American West Point Military graduate. Mr. Bailey was one of the first scientists to use the microscope as a means of investigative work.

The genus Baileya was published by William Henry Harvey and Asa Gray in 1848.

The species epithet "pleniradiata" (pleni:) from the Latin for "full-rayed" and (radia'ta/radia'tum:) meaning spreading out like rays, usually the petals of florets; thus a reference to the many spreading full-rayed petals.


Date Profile Completed: 9/24/2012; updated 10/25/2020
Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database for Baileya
The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 05/21/2020).
David J. Keil 2012, Baileya pleniradiata, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora, /eflora/eflora_display.php?tid=1625, accessed on May 21, 2020.
FNA 2006, Wiggins 1964, Kearney and Peebles 1969; Editors; S. Buckley 2010, A. Hazelton 2015, A. Hazelton 2017 from SEINet Field Guide, on-line; (accessed 05/05/2020).
M. W. Turner, FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 21 | Asteraceae | Baileya; 2. Baileya pleniradiata Harvey & A. Gray, Mem. Amer. Acad. Arts, n. s. 4: 105. 1849. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford.
Wikipedia contributors, 'Baileya pleniradiata', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 22 March 2018, 06:34 UTC, [accessed 21 May 2020]
Virginia Tech Dendrology; Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation
SEINet synonyms, scientific names, geographic locations, general information.
Etymology:Michael L. Charters California Plant Names: Latin and Greek Meanings and Derivations; A Dictionary of Botanical and Biographical Etymology - (accessed 05/22/2020)