Size: 3 to 5 feet (90-150 cm) or more; 6 feet (1.8 m) tall.
Growth Form:Forb/herb; taproot; plants upright; stems with rough stiff hair; note glands on stems and flowers in top photograph.
Leaves: Green, gray-green, leaves rough to the touch from dense stiff white hairs as shown above; leaf shape is narrow or linear.
Flower Color: White, light pink or flesh colored, flower heads few to many depending on yearly rainfall; flower heads with disk tubular florets only; flower heads surrounded by long pointed glandularbracts; fruit a cypsela; seeds wind-borne.
Flowering Season: January, February or March through September, October or November
Elevation: Sea Level to 2,000 feet (0-610 m)
Habitat Preferences: Sandy plains, mesas, washes, dunes and creosote-bush (Larrea) communities.
Desert Palafox prefers elevations from sea Level to 2,000 feet (0-610 m). Habitat preferences include sandy plains, mesas, washes, dunes, and creosote-bush (Larrea) communities. Palafoxia arida var. arida
Recorded Range: Desert Palafox is native to both the Mojave and Sonoran Desert Eco-regions of California and the southwestern United States in AZ, NV, CA, UT and north and central Baja California as well as northwest Mexico, Sonora.
Genus Information: In North America there are 11 species and 19 accepted taxa overall for Palafoxia. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 12 accepted species names and a further 17 scientific names of infraspecific rank for Palafoxia.
In the Southwestern United States: Arizona, California, Nevada and Utah each have 1 species of Palafoxia, New Mexico has 2 species and Texas has 7 species. All data approximate and subject to revision.
There are 2 varieties in Palafoxia arida, Desert Palafox
Palafoxia arida var. gigantea, Giant Spanish Needle, (AZ, CA);
Palafoxia arida var. arida, Desert Palafox, (AZ, CA, NV, UT).
Comments: Desert Palafox was originally classified as Palafoxia linearis which is a Mexican species also called Desert Palafox, but one that does not reach as far north. Perhaps additional research will provide insight into the relationship between these two species, if in fact they are separate species.
Be aware that Palafoxia arida and Palafoxia arida var. arida and Palafoxia arida var. gigantea share the common name Desert Palafox.
Desert Palafox, Palafoxia arida var. arida small showy white and pink tubular diskflorets, their seeds and plants may be visited by hummingbirds and small mammals including rodents and granivorous birds in search of food, nectar, shelter and protection through cover.
Beneficial Value to Butterflies, Bees and Insects
Desert Palafox, Palafoxia arida var. arida small showy white and pink tubular diskflorets and their plants may be visited by butterflies, moths and other insects in search of nectar and/or other food.
The genus Palafoxia is in honor of perhaps Josè Rebolledo de Palafox y Melzi (1776-1847), Duke of Saragossa. However, a paper published by Hervè M. Burdetin suggests that the first choice name was originally to honor and commemorate Juan de Palafox y Mendoza (1600-1659), who was a bishop and founder of the University of Mexico. The paper further suggests this is so because the other Palafox, Josè Regolledo de Palafox y Melzi became a national hero and the attribution was transferred to him.
The species epithet "arida" means "growing in dry places" or "dry land".
Desert Palafox, Palafoxia arida is used as a dye by southwestern United States indigenous peoples.
Cahuilla Dye, Yellow; Used as a yellow dye.
See complete listing of ethno-botanical uses at Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn.