Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

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

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Hydrophyllaceae (=Hydrophylloideae in Boragenaceae), the Waterleaf Family

The Hydrophyllaceae Family has been re-classified to sub-family Hydrophyloideae in the Boragenaceae Family. Species in the Hydrophyloidea are almost world-wide and many are centered in the western United States. Hydrophyloidea is small and species are mostly herbs, rarely shrubs such as Eriodictyon. 20 genera and 300 species in this group. The type genus is Hydrophyllum with 10 species.

Botanical characteristics include; annual or perennial herbs with bristly glandular hair plants often starting life in the form of a basal rosette, similar to the Borages. The leaves are mostly alternate exstipulate, stems are rounded and generally erect or prostrate.

Flowers are usually small and in clusters of 1 or many. Inflorescence often a cyme commonly curling back similar to the tail of a scorpion. Petals and sepals 5, petals fused often blue or purple and often bell or funnel shaped; fruit a capsule.

Economic importance: use of the plants for ornamental landscape purposes.

Similar to the Boragenaceae Family the bristly hairs of certain species may cause a rash.

Phacelia, native to North and South America, is the largest genus in this sub-family with 186 species. Other large genera include Nama with 54 species, Nemophila 13 species and Eriodictyon has 9 species.

In North America, the Hydrophyllaceae family has 17 genera and 357 accepted taxa overall. In the United States and Arizona Phacelia, Pholistoma and Emmenanthe are common wildflowers. Over 60 species in Hydrophylaceae in Arizona most (48) belong to the genus Phacelia.

References: , updated 02/27/2017
Wikipedia contributors, 'Hydrophylloideae', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 2 August 2015, 03:13 UTC, [accessed 28 September 2015]
Wikipedia contributors, 'Phacelia', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 28 March 2015, 02:03 UTC,
[accessed 27 September 2015]
The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 09/28/2015)., updated 02/72/2017
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database – ITIS search Search of hydrophyllaceae and Phacelia.