Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

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

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Berlandiera lyrata, Lyreleaf Greeneyes

Lyreleaf Greeneyes has beautiful sunflower-flower type blooms having both ray and disk florets. This species blooms from April to October or year round in some areas. Berlandiera lyrata Lyreleaf Greeneyes is also called Chocolate Daisy or Chocolate Flower because of the fragrant chocolate smell of the flowers. Berlandiera lyrata Lyreleaf Greeneyes has showy yellow to orange ray flowers with noticeable veins of red to maroon. Note bracts or phyllaries either obovate or ovate in 3-series. Berlandiera lyrata Lyreleaf Greeneyes is called Lyreleaf because of their leaves in the shape of a lyre, an ancient musical instrument loosely outlines in one large and one small lobe. Berlandiera lyrata Lyreleaf Greeneyes grows up to about 2 feet and prefers elevations from 2,200 to 7,000 feet. Habitat preferences are extremely variable including dry sandy loams, rocky limestone soils, irrigated fields, disturbed soils, roadsides, plains and more. Berlandiera lyrata

Scientific Name: Berlandiera lyrata
Common Name: Lyreleaf Greeneyes

Also Called: Chocolate Daisy, Chocolate Flower, Green-eyed Lyre Leaf, Greeneyes, Lyre-leaf

Family: Asteraceae, Sunflower Family

Synonyms: (Berlandiera incisa, Berlandiera lyrata var. macrophylla)

Status: Native

Duration: Perennial; taproot.

Size: 2 feet (60 cm) or more (4 feet/120 cm).

Growth Form: Forb/herb; basal rosettes; stems erect or decumbent; plants often branched, branches striped with parallel, longitudinal lines (striate); plants approaching white in color (canescent) and covered in dense soft often matted short hairs (tomentose); chocolate-like scent.

Leaves: Green, grayish-green above, whitish underneath; plants "leafy"; leaves velvety; alternate; leaves on long stems (petioles), leaf shape variable, oblanceolate or obovate to spatulate, often lyrate, sometimes pinnatifid; leaf edges (margins) with rounded teeth or scalloped edge (crenate) or not lobed or toothed (entire).

Flower Color: Deep yellow to orange; flower heads large, showy; both ray and disk flowers (radiate); flowers solitary with long hairy stalks (peduncles); when the outer (ray) flowers fall, a green disc shape remains, thus one of the common name "green-eyes"; ray flowers deep yellow to orange-yellow with notable venation of red to maroon; the bracts or phyllaries surrounding the floral heads are obovate to ovate, and quite showy; the fruit is a pubescent cypsela, strongly flattened and also a showy cup-like structure.

Flowering Season: April to October or year round.

Elevation: 2,200 to 7,000 feet (670-2,100 m).

Habitat Preferences: Dry sandy loams, rocky limestone soils, irrigated fields, disturbed soils, roadsides, plains, mesas, grasslands with mesquite, oak and juniper.

Recorded Range: Lyreleaf Greeneyes is found in the southwest United States; AZ, CO, KS, NM, OK and TX and northern Mexico. In the United States, the primary distribution of Lyreleaf Greeneyes is centered over New Mexico. In Arizona limited distribution the southern and southeast parts of the state.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Berlandiera lyrata.

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

North America species range map for Berlandiera lyrata: 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 4 species and 6 accepted taxa overall for Berlandiera. World wide, The Plant List includes 8 accepted species names and includes a further 10 of infraspecific rank for the genus.

In the Southwestern United States: Arizona has 1 species of Berlandiera, California, Nevada and Utah haves 0 species, New Mexico has 2 species and Texas has 3 species. All data is approximate and subject to taxonomic changes.

Comments: Lyreleaf Greeneyes is so named because the leaves are so variable. They may be oblanceolate, obovate or pinnately lobed (lyrate). It is readily available as a southwest desert landscape plant because of its bright color and its chocolate scent. Lyreleaf flowers open at night and begin to droop as the temperatures begin to warm up.

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

Special Value to Native Bees, Butterflies and Insects
Daisy type flowers such as Lyreleaf Greeneyes, Berlandiera lyrata, may attract insects including butterflies and possibly bees and other small insects.

The genus Berlandiera (berlandier'i:) honors Jean-Louis Berlandier (1803-1851) a French-Mexican botanist, anthropologist, historian, geographer and meteorologist. He conducted botanical explorations in Texas and New Mexico. He settled near Matamoros, Mexico, collected a great deal of information and made ethnological studies of forty native American tribes.

The species epithet "lyrata" is derived from the New Latin word "lyratus" a reference to an ancient musical instrument known as "a lyre,", the shape or outline may loosely be described as having multiple lobes. Now a botanical term "lyrated" relating to lobes and pinnately divided leaves. It is also an accepted zoology term referring to the tails of certain birds; and from (-ata/-atum/-atus:) an adjectival suffix for nouns indicating possession or resemblance; thus perhaps a reference to their pinnately lobed leaves.

The flower heads of Lyreleaf Greeneyes have been used as a food seasoning an other purposes by United States indigenous peoples.
  • Acoma Food, Spice; Flowers mixed with sausage as seasoning.
  • Keres, Western Drug, Psychological Aid; Dried roots burned, ground & tossed on hot coals or smoke inhaled to give courage.
  • Keres, Western Drug, Sedative; Dried roots burned, ground & tossed on hot coals or smoke inhaled for nervousness.
  • Keres, Western Food, Spice; Flowers mixed with sausage as seasoning.
  • Laguna Food, Spice; Flowers mixed with sausage as seasoning.

  • See full species account from from Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn.
    Date Profile Completed: 8/9/2012; updated 05/26/2020
    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 and USGS ITIS search - (accessed 09/08/2017)
    The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 09/08/2017).
    Donald J. Pinkava, FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 21 | Asteraceae | Berlandiera; 1. Berlandiera lyrata Bentham, Pl. Hartw. 17. 1839. Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford.
    FNA 2006, Martin and Hutchins 1980, Kearney and Peebles 1969; Editors S.Buckley 2010, F.S.Coburn 2014, A.Hazelton 2015, A.Hazelton 2017; from SEINet Field Guide, on-line; (accessed 05/26/2020).
    Virginia Tech Dendrology; Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation
    Native Plant Information Network, NPIN (2013). Published on the Internet (accessed 05/26/2020). Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas, Austin, TX.
    Wikipedia contributors, 'Jean-Louis Berlandier', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 14 July 2017, 15:04 UTC,> [accessed 9 September 2017 ]
    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 05/26/2020)