Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

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

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Chaenactis xantiana, Fleshcolor Pincushion

Fleshcolor Pincushion has white flower heads, all disk florets and without ray florets. The fruit is technically called a cypsela which is often mistaken as an achene. Chaenactis xantianaFleshcolor Pincushion bracts surrounding the floral heads are called phyllaries and you note that they do not surpass the white florets. Sometimes the floral heads are whitish or pinkish. Chaenactis xantiana Fleshcolor Pincushion blooms from April through July across its rather large geographic range. The young plants are most without hairs (glabrescent) and completely glabrous at flowering. Chaenactis xantiana Fleshcolor Pincushion has green leaves that are somewhat succulent and the lower or basal leaves wither at flowering. The upper leaves as shown here are 0 to 1 times pinnately lobed and the lobes are in 1 to 3 (5) pairs arranged spirally on the flowering stem. Chaenactis xantiana Fleshcolor Pincushion prefers elevations between 1,000 to 3,500 feet (300-1066 m) and open loose sandy soils often in burn areas. They also prefer dry and semi-dry shrublands and chaparral plant communities. Chaenactis xantiana Fleshcolor Pincushion has basal leaves that wither as the plant matures as shown in the photo. This species is found mostly in the southwestern United States in AZ, CA, NV, OR. Chaenactis xantiana

Scientific Name: Chaenactis xantiana
Common Name: Fleshcolor Pincushion

Also Called: Fleshy Pincushion, Mojave Pincushion, Xantu's Pincushion, Xantus Pincushion

Family: Asteraceae, Sunflower Family

Synonyms: ()

Status: Native

Duration: Annual

Size: 4 to 16 inches (10-40 cm;) tall.

Growth Form: Forb/herb; 1 to 5 (12) stems, young plants glabrescent, mostly glabrous at flowering.

Leaves: Green; somewhat succulent, basal leaves withering at flowering; cauline leaves 0 to 1 pinnately lobed, lobes are in 1 to 3 (5) pairs, leaves spirally on flowering stems; leaves finely flecked with white scales which views as a grayish hue.

Flower Color: White; 1 to 5 (7) discoid heads; corollas diurnal, whitish to pinkish, outer corollas erect to ascending; fruit a cypsela (mistakenly referred to as an achene).

Flowering Season: April to June or March to July in California; April through July in Texas.

Elevation: 1,000 to 3,500 feet (300-1,066 m)

Habitat Preferences: Open loose sandy soils, often in burns, dry and semi-dry shrublands, chaparral.

Recorded Range: Found mostly in the southwestern United States in AZ, CA, NV, OR.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Chaenactis xantiana.

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

North America species range map for Chaenactis xantiana: North America species range map for Chaenactis stevioides: North America species range map for Chaenactis carphoclinia: North America species range map for Centaurea solstitialis: North America species range map for Centaurea melitensis: 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 17 species and 17 accepted taxa overall for Chaenactis. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 19 accepted species names and a further 55 scientific names of infraspecific rank for Chaenactis.

Members of Chaenactis are commonly referred to as “pincushions” or “dustymaidens”.

The genus Chaenactis was published in 1836 by Augustin Pyramus de Candolle.

In the Southwestern United States: Arizona has 6 species of genus, California has 13 species, Nevada has 8 species, New Mexico has 3 species, Texas has 0 species, Utah has 5 species. All data approximate and subject to revision.

Comments: Fleshcolor Pincushion is very similar in appearance to Esteve Pincushion, Chaenactis stevioides. is named in honor of John Xantus de Vesey (1825–1894) Hungarian exile and zoologist.

In Southwest Desert Flora also see: Esteve’s Pincushion, Chaenactis stevioides, Pebble Pincushion and Chaenactis carphoclinia var. carphoclinia.

Importance to Wildlife, Birds and Livestock
Tiny seeds of Chaenactis xantiana may possibly be eaten by birds and small mammals.

Special Value to Native Bees, Butterflies and Insects
Chaenactis xantiana flowers may be visited by butterflies, bees and other small insects.

The genus Chaenactis (Chaenac'tis:) from the Greek chaino, “to gape," and aktis, “a ray," thus meaning a gaping ray, and given because in many species the outer florets are enlarged into a wide-open flaring ray-like mouth.

The genus Chaenactis was published in 1836 by Augustin Pyramus de Candolle.

The species epithet xantiana (xan'ti/xantia'na:) is named in honor of János (John) Xántus (1825-1894), a Hungarian exile and zoologist who collected in California and Baja.

Date Profile Completed: 06/12/2020
Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, Arizona Flora, 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 06/12/2020)
The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 06/12/2020).
Native Plant Information Network, NPIN (2013). Published on the Internet (accessed 02/04/2020). Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas, Austin, TX.
Wikipedia contributors, 'Chaenactis xantiana', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 22 March 2018, 11:15 UTC, [accessed 12 June 2020]
Wikipedia contributors, 'Chaenactis', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 24 June 2019, 18:57 UTC, [accessed 12 June 2020]
James D. Morefield,FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 21 | Asteraceae | Chaenactis; 13. Chaenactis xantiana, Fleshy pincushion, fleshcolor pincushion, Xantus pincushion; Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford.
James D. Morefield 2012, Chaenactis xantiana, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora, /eflora/eflora_display.php?tid=1993, accessed on June 12, 2020.
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 02/03/2020)