Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

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

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Porophyllum gracile, Slender Poreleaf

Slender Poreleaf has white of purplish flowers on narrow flower heads and with an exserted curling style (shown on one floret on far leaft). Porophyllum gracile Slender Poreleaf has solitary flowers on branch tips and note that the flower heads have dark purple oil glands. Porophyllum gracile Slender Poreleaf blooms from early Spring sometime in March and continues blooming through October and even year-round with sufficient rainfall. Porophyllum gracile Slender Poreleaf flowers produce a modified one-seeded seed called a cypsela with a white, straw or pinkish colored slender bristles, known as a pappi. Porophyllum gracile Slender Poreleaf, or Odora as it is sometimes called, is a shrub or sub-shrub that may grow to 18 inches (46 cm) tall or more, 2 feet (61 cm). Plants have woody bases, are aromatic and strongly scented from numerous glands. Porophyllum gracile Slender Poreleaf prefers elevations below 4,000 feet (1,219 m) and habitat preferences within desert scrub and includes; dry rocky slopes, canyons, arroyos, sandy and gravelly soils. Porophyllum gracile

Scientific Name: Porophyllum gracile
Common Name: Slender Poreleaf

Also called: Odora and Yerba del Venadov (Spanish: Hierba del Venado)

Family: Asteraceae, Sunflower Family

Synonyms: (Porophyllum caesium P. junciforme, P. nodosum, P. putidum, P. vaseyi)

Status: Native

Duration: Perennial

Size: 18 inches (46 cm) tall or more, 2 feet (61 cm)

Growth Form: Subshrub or Shrub; bases woody; many slender wiry upright stems, bluish-green, plants hairless; plants aromatic and heavily glandular; strongly scented.

Leaves: Light green or bluish-green; leaves linear or thread-like with aromatic glands; strongly scented.

Flower Color: White or purplish; flower heads narrow with exserted curling style; flowers solitary on branch tips; flower heads with dark purple oil glands; bracts surrounding flower heads linear; the fruit is a cypsela with straw or pinkish slender bristles (pappus).

Flowering Season: March to October or year-round with sufficient rainfall.

Elevation: Below 4,000 feet (1,219 m)

Habitat Preferences: Desert scrub; Dry rocky slopes, canyons, arroyos, sandy and gravelly soils.

Recorded Range: Southwest United States, AZ, CA, NM, NV, TX and UT. Largest populations in AZ, CA, NV. Also native throughout Baja California and northwest Mexico.

North America & US Counties Distribution Map for Porophyllum gracile.

North America species range map for Slender Poreleaf, Porophyllum gracile:

North America species range map for Slender Poreleaf, Porophyllum gracile: 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 6 species and 6 accepted taxa overall for Porophyllum. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 28 accepted species names and a further 35 scientific names of infraspecific rank for the genus.

The genus Porophyllum was published in 1763 by Adanson, Michel (1727-1806) in 1763.

In the Southwestern United States: Arizona, California and Nevada each have 2 species of Porophyllum, New Mexico has 3 species, Texas has 4 species and Utah has 1 species. Data approximate and subject to revision.

Comments: Slender Poreleaf or Odora has a strong mostly unpleasant scent. It is well represented in both the Sonoran and Mojave deserts. The Spanish name, Yerba de Venado, translates to "Grass of the Deer".

In Southwest Desert Flora also see the related species: Yerba Porosa, Porophyllum ruderale, which is found in southern Arizona.

Importance to Wildlife, Birds and Livestock
Slender Poreleaf, Porophyllum gracile has small but showy tubular flowers, and their seeds and plants may be visited by hummingbirds and/or small mammals including rodents and granivorous birds in search of food, nectar, shelter and protection through cover.

Slender Poreleaf, Porophyllum gracile has small but showy tubular flowers, and their plants may be visited by butterflies, moths, native bees and other insects in search of nectar and/or other food.

The genus “Porophyllum” is from the Greek word “poros”, meaning hole, and “phyllon”, meaning leaf, and thus a reference to the gland-dotted leaves.

The genus Porophyllum was published in 1763 by Adanson, Michel (1727-1806) in 1763.

The species epithet gracile as in graceful or slender referencing the stems and overall profile of the plant.

The Seri, indigenous people from the Mexican state of Sonora, call this species “xtisil” and use a tea made from the stems as a remedy for colds and to aid in difficult childbirth. The roots are macerated and used to treat toothache.

Porophyllum gracile is used for a multitude of purposes by southwestern United States indigenous peoples.
  • Havasupai Drug, Analgesic Decoction of pounded plant taken for pain.;
  • Havasupai Drug, Antirheumatic (External and Internal); Decoction of pounded plant rubbed in as a liniment and Decoction of pounded plant taken for aches.
  • Havasupai Drug, Dermatological and Gastrointestinal Aid; Decoction of pounded plant used as a wash on sores and Decoction of pounded plant taken for abdominal pain.
  • Paiute Drug, Abortifacient; Decoction of root taken as “a regulator for delayed menstruation.”
  • Shoshoni Drug, Abortifacient; Plant used to regulate delayed menstruation.

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

    Date Profile Completed: 7/3/2012; updated 09/29/2020
    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 09/29/2020.
    The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet;; accessed 09/29/2020.
    John L. Strother, Flora of North America; Asteraceae, Porophyllum; 1. Porophyllum gracile Bentham, Bot. Voy. Sulphur. 29. 1844.; Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford.
    David J. Keil 2012, Porophyllum gracile, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora, /eflora/eflora_display.php?tid=4446, accessed on September 29, 2020.
    Michael J. Plagens; Arizonensis; Field Guide; Sonoran Desert Flora; Asteraceae, Odora, Slender Poreleaf, Porophyllum gracile; accessed 09/15/2020.
    T. Beth Kinsey, Southeastern Arizona Wildflowers and Plants; Porophyllum gracile – Slender Poreleaf - accessed 09/29/2020.
    FNA 2006, Wiggins 1964, Kearney and Peebles 1969; Editors: S.Buckley 2010, F.S.Coburn 2015; from SEINet Field Guide, on-line; accessed 09/15/2020.
    Felger, R. S. and M. B. Moser, 1985. People of the Desert and Sea. University of Arizona Press, Tucson, AZ.
    Wikipedia contributors, 'Porophyllum gracile', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 22 March 2018, 10:14 UTC, [accessed 29 September 2020]
    Seiler, John, Peterson, John, North American species range map courtesy of Virginia Tech, Dept. of Forest Resources & Environmental Conservation
    SEINet synonyms, scientific names, geographic locations, general information.
    IPNI (2020). International Plant Names Index. Published on the Internet, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Harvard University Herbaria & Libraries and Australian National Botanic Gardens. [Retrieved 29 September 2020].