Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

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

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Camissonia micrantha, Miniature Suncup

Miniature Suncup has yellow flowers that often begin with pale orange buds and then fade reddish after bloom. Camissonia micrantha Miniature Suncup has yellow flowers that often begin with pale orange buds and then fade reddish after bloom. Camissonia micrantha Miniature Suncup or Small Evening Primrose has a gently arching over or nodding flowering stem (inflorescence). This species is relatively rare in the United States where it is only found in Arizona and California. Camissonia micrantha Miniature Suncup has distinctive fruits that are cylindric and often 3-coiled capsule. This species starts with large basal leaves and smaller upper leaves with a conspicuous center margin. Camissonia micranthaMiniature Suncup grows up to 20 inches or more, note that the upper most narrow leaves become smaller toward the top of the plant. This species prefers elevations below 4,500 feet, much lower (1,000 to 2,500) in California. Camissonia micrantha

Scientific Name: Camissonia micrantha
Common Name: Miniature Suncup
Also Called: Small Evening Primrose
Family: Onagraceae, Evening Primrose Family
Synonyms: (Camissonia pallida, Oenothera micrantha, Oenothera micrantha var. jonesii, Holostigma micranthum, Sphaerostigma micranthum)
Status: Native
Duration: Annual
Size: Up to 20 inches or more.
Growth Form: Forb/herb; stems variable decumbent or erect; rosetted (rosette), hairs dense.
Leaves: Green; center margin conspicuous, basal leaves largest, cauline leaves generally narrowly lanceolate; +- sessile.
Flower Color: Yellow, fading reddish; corolla with 1 or 2 red dots, flowering stem gently arching over or nodding, fruit a cylindric and often 3-coiled capsule.
Flowering Season: March to May, Arizona and California.
Elevation: Below 4,500 feet; between 1,000 and 2,500 feet in California.

Habitat Preferences: Sandy washes, rocky areas, desert scrub; California, beaches, sandy fields, washes.

Recorded Range: Relatively rare in the United States where it is native to Arizona and California.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Camissonia micrantha.

U.S. Weed Information: No information available.
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: No information available.
Wetland Indicator: No information available.
Threatened/Endangered Information: No information available.

Genus Information: In North America there are 58 species in Camissonia and 100 accepted taxa overall. The Plant List includes only 23 accepted species names and a further 19 scientific plant names of infraspecific rank for the genus. However, The Plant List has also reclassified several members of Camissonia to Chylismia (16) and Camissoniopsis (14).

In the southwestern United States; Arizona has 22 species, California has 43 species, Nevada has 29 species, New Mexico has 6 species, Texas has 1 species and Utah has 19 species. All data is approximate and subject to taxonomic changes.

Also according to The Plant List, Camissonia is under taxonomic review, several species have been reclassified to Camissoniopsis (14) and to Chylismia (16).

Comments: In Arizona I often observe other specimens of Camissonia appearing very similar to Miniature Suncup, except the flower petals have relatively ragged edges.

In Southwest Desert Flora also see Yellow Cups, Chylismia brevipes, Browneyes, Chylismia (=Camissonia) claviformis California Suncup, Eulobus californicus and Palmer Evening Primrose, Tetrapteron (=Camissonia) palmeri.

Date Profile Completed: 12/29/2015, updated 02/20/2017, updated format 09/28/2017
Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, California, as Oenothera micrantha var. exfoliata.
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search
The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 12/28/2015).
Warren L. Wagner & Peter C. Hoch, family description, key to genera; treatment of genera by Warren L. Wagner 2017. Camissoniopsis micrantha, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on February 20, 2017.
SEINet for synonyms, scientific names, recorded geographic locations and general information