Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

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

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Lotus rigidus, Shrubby Deervetch

Lotus rigidus, Shrubby Deervetch, Southwest Desert Flora Lotus rigidus, Shrubby Deervetch, Southwest Desert Flora Lotus rigidus, Shrubby Deervetch, Southwest Desert Flora Lotus rigidus, Shrubby Deervetch, Southwest Desert Flora Lotus rigidus, Shrubby Deervetch, Southwest Desert Flora

Scientific Name: Lotus rigidus
Common Name: Shrubby Deervetch

Also Called: Broom Deerweed, Desert Rock Pea, Deer Vetch

Family: Fabaceae or Leguminosae Family

Synonyms: (Acmispon rigidus, Hosackia rigida, Ottleya rigida)

Status: Native

Duration: Perennial

Size: 1 or 2 feet (.30-.61 m) or more (3 feet - .91 m).

Growth Form: Shrubby Deervetch is an herbaceous subshrub with multiple pale green stems growing up from the base, these stems are rigid, or spreading horizontally and then becoming erect; the plants are somewhat woody below; plants with stiff closely appressed hairs (strigose).

Leaves: Shrubby Deervetch has green leaves that are irregularly pinnate to palmate, 3 to 5 leaflets; leaves become hairless with age (glabrous).

Flower Color: Shrubby Deervetch has yellow flowers that turn orange-red or red with age; the flowering stalk has 1 to 3 flowers; the fruit is a narrow pod.

Flowering Season: February to May; March to May in California.

Elevation: Under 6,000 feet (1,829 m); below 5,000 feet (1,550 m) in California.

Habitat Preferences: Low to mid-level desert areas, chaparral vegetation and pinyon/juniper communities; dry rocky slopes, flats, washes, foothills, Shrubby Deervetch is found in both the Mojave and Sonoran deserts.

Recorded Range: Lotus rigidus is found in the southwestern states of AZ, CA, NV and UT. It is also native to Baja California and northern Mexico. In the United States it is found throughout most of Arizona, southwest California, southeast Nevada and extreme southwest Utah.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Lotus rigidus.

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

Genus Information: In North America, USDA Plants Database lists 142 species for Lotus. Worldwide, World Flora Online includes 605 accepted species names for the genus.

The genus Lotus is under current taxonomic review and many species are now classified under the genus Acmispon. Lotus rigidus is now also recognized as Acmispon rigidus.
The genus Lotus was published in 1753 by Carl Linnaeus, (1707-1778).

Comments: Listed in Arizona Flora as our most xerophytic Lotus. Shrubby Deervetch is also a common subshrub-in low to mid-level desert areas in both the Mojave and Sonoran deserts.

Also see in Southwest Desert Flora; Bird's Foot Trefoil, Lotus corniculatus; Foothill Deervetch, Lotus humistratus; Coastal Bird's-foot Trefoil, Lotus salsuginosus Wright's Deervetch, Lotus wrightii.

Importance to Wildlife, Birds and Livestock
Shrubby Deervetch, Lotus rigidus has attractive flowers, the flowers and their seeds may be visited by hummingbirds and/or small mammals including rodents and granivorous birds in search of nectar or food.

According to the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum, hummingbirds feed on the nectar and Sonoran Desert tortoises relish the plants.

Beneficial Value to Butterflies, Honey Bees and Insects
Shrubby Deervetch, Lotus rigidus has attractive flowers, the flowers and their plants may be visited by butterflies, moths, flies, honeybees, Native Bees and other insects in search of food and nectar.

****Special Value to Native Bees****
According to The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation or other source, Common name, Genus species, is recognized by pollination ecologists as attracting large numbers of Native bees. Click here for more information on their Pollinator Conservation Program.

The genus “Lotus” (Lo'tus:); Greek origin, name applied to the taste of the Jujube fruit (Ziziphus jujuba); thought to induce contentment and forgetfulness.
The genus was published in 1753 by Carl Linnaeus, (1707-1778).

The species epithet rigidus (rig'idus:) rigid, referring to the stiff leaves.

The taxon Lotus rigidus was described in 1890 by Edward Lee Greene (1843-1915).

Ethnobotany - Native American Ethnobotany; University of Michigan - Dearborn
Unknown for this particular Lotus species.

Date Profile Completed: 08/23/2015, updated 02/02/2022
References and additional information:
Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, California.; Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search; accessed on-line; 02/01/2022.
World Flora Online; A Project of the World Flora Online Consortium; An Online Flora of All Known Plants - (accessed on-line; 01/14/2022)
Wiggins 1964, Welsh et al. 1993, Kearney and Peebles 1969; S.Buckley, 2010 from SEINet Field Guide, on-line; accessed 02/02/2022.
Wikipedia contributors. "Ottleya rigida." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 16 Apr. 2021. Web. 2 Feb. 2022.
The Jepson Manual, 1993; Jepson Flora Project: Lotus rigidus; - (accessed on-line; 02/02/2022)
Arizona Desert Sonoran Museum; Plant Care Information, PDF File, Desert Rock Pea, Acmispon (Lotus) rigidus; - (accessed on-line; 02/02/2022)
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.
Etymology: Michael L. Charters California Plant Names: Latin and Greek Meanings and Derivations; A Dictionary of Botanical and Biographical Etymology - (accessed on-line; 02/02/2022)
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 on-line; 02 February 2022].