Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

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

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Monolepis nuttalliana, Nuttall's Povertyweed

Nuttall's Povertyweed has tiny inconspicuous 5 to 25 flowers in leaf axils. This plants blooms from January to September across North America. Monolepis nuttalliana Nuttall's Povertyweed has beautiful but tiny flower clusters, inconspicuous to the human eye. Monolepis nuttalliana Nuttall's Povertyweed or Monolepis has green, somewhat fleshy leaves that are mostly lanceolate or narrowly elliptic in shape. Not small flower clusters in leaf axils. Monolepis nuttalliana Nuttall's Povertyweed or Monolepis is a low growing forb/herb that prefers alkaline clay soils in disturbed areas. Plants age to mostly smooth stems and leaves but younger plants are powdery or mealy-like. Monolepis nuttalliana Nuttall's Povertyweed is a native plant that is considered a weed by few authorities, likely because the plants are often found in disturbed areas. Monolepis nuttalliana

Scientific Name: Monolepis nuttalliana
Common Name: Nuttall's Povertyweed
Also Called: Monolepis, Nuttall Monolepis, Poverty Weed, Nuttall's Poverty Weed, Nuttall's Poverty-weed, Patata, Patota, Povertyweed, (Spanish: Patata)
Family: Chenopodiaceae, Goosefoot Family.
Synonyms: (Blitum nuttallianum)
Status: Native
Duration: Annual
Size: Up to 20 inches or so.
Growth Form: Forb/herb; plants slightly succulent; mostly glabrous, young plants powdery (farinose); stems prostrate to ascending.
Leaves: Green; leaves lanceolate, narrowly elliptic or linear; proximal leaves longest; distal leaves somewhat sessile; fleshy, lanceolate.
Flower Color: Inconspicuous, greenish; 5 to 15 flower clusters in leaf axils.
Flowering Season: January to April; April to August or September in California.
Elevation: 3,000 feet or lower; much higher (9,000') elevations in California.

Habitat Preferences: Moist alkaline clay soils in disturbed areas; often in partial shade.

Recorded Range: Monolepis nuttalliana is found throughout most of North America.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Monolepis nuttalliana.

U.S. Weed Information: In North America Monolepis nuttalliana can be weedy or invasive according to the following authoritative sources: Weeds of Nebraska and the Great Plains. Plants included here may become weedy or invasive.

Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: No information available.

Wetland Indicator: In North America Monolepis nuttalliana has the following wetland designations: Alaska, FAC; Arid West, FAC; Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plain, FACU; Eastern Mountains and Piedmont, UPL; Great Plains, FAC; Midwest, UPL; Northcentral & Northeast, UPL; Western Mountains, Valleys, and Coast, FAC.
FAC = Facultative, occur in wetlands and non-wetlands
FACU = Facultative Upland, usually occur in non-wetlands, but may occur in wetlands
UPL = Obligate Upland, almost never occur in wetlands.

Threatened/Endangered Information: No information available.

Genus Information: In North America there are 3 species and 3 accepted taxa overall Monolepis. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 6 scientific plant names of species rank for the genus Monolepis, of which 2 accepted species names.

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

Comments: Although a native species across North America, Nuttall's Povertyweed is listed as a weedy or invasive in some locations.

Nuttall's Povertyweed is used for food and other purposes by southwestern United States indigenous peoples.

  • Hopi Food, Porridge; Ground seeds used to make mush.
  • Navajo, Ramah Drug, Ceremonial Medicine; Plant used as ceremonial emetic.
  • Navajo, Ramah Drug, Hunting Medicine; Pinch of dried plant eaten by hunters to prevent 'buck fever.'
  • Navajo, Ramah Food, Fodder; Used for sheep feed.
  • Papago Food, Dried Food; Seeds basket winnowed, parched, sun dried, cooked, stored and used for food.
  • Pima Food, Staple; Seeds boiled, partially dried, parched, ground and eaten as pinole.
  • Pima Food, Unspecified; Roots boiled, cooled, mixed with fat or lard and salt, cooked and eaten with tortillas.

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

    Date Profile Completed: 04/12/2017, updated format 10/11/2017
    Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, 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 04/12/2017)
    The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 04/12/2017).
    Native Plant Information Network, NPIN (2013). Published on the Internet [accessed: 04/12/2017]. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas, Austin, TX.
    Noel H. HolmgrenFNA | Family List | FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 4 | Chenopodiaceae | Monolepis; 1. Monolepis nuttalliana (Schultes) Greene, Fl. Francisc. 168. 1891.; Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford.
    Bruce G. Baldwin, adapted from Holmgren (2003) 2017. Monolepis nuttalliana, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on April 10, 2017.
    1993, The Jepson Manual, Citation: (accessed )
    SEINet synonyms, scientific names, geographic locations, general information - (accessed 04/12/2017).