Growth Form:Forb/herb, subshrub from woody crown; 1 to 5 stems, slightly woody and stiff; numerous horizontal widely spreading branches; plants may form dense, rounded bushes; plants mostly hairless (glabrous) and becoming grayish with maturity.
Flower Color: White, pink, lavender pink or flesh colored; flower heads scattered throughout mostly leafless plants, more prevalent near branch tips; ligulate flower heads only; the fruit is a cypsela with a pappus of brownish or tan, rarely white plumosebristles.
Flowering Season: April or May to September, October
Elevation: Sea Level to 5,000 feet (1,524 m).
Habitat Preferences: Dry plains, washes, arid mesas and slopes, sandy areas, open sandy short-grass plains, gravelly washes and gravelly bajadas; desert shrub communities, juniper woodlands.
Recorded Range: Brownplume Wirelettuce is native in the southwestern United States in AZ, CA, CO, KS, NM, NV, OK, TX, UT, WY; it is also native throughout most of Baja California and northern and central Mexico.
Genus Information: In North America there are 17 species for Stephanomeria. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 18 accepted species names and a further 29 scientific names of infraspecific rank for Stephanomeria.
In the Southwestern United States: Arizona has 6 species of Stephanomeria, California has 11 species, Nevada has 7 species, New Mexico and Utah each have 5 species and Texas has 4 species. Data approximate, subject to revision.
Comments: Brownplume Wirelettuce is one of several members of the genus Stephanomeria that share similar characteristics and are often difficult to distinguish from one another. You get a good idea just how variable this species is when you note the large number synonyms and common names.
Brownplume Wirelettuce is similar to Narrowleaf Wirelettuce, Stephanomeria tenuifolia which is less woody at the base, has glands on the flowering stalk (peduncle) and the seeds have a pappus of white feathery-like bristles from top to bottom.
Brownplume Wirelettuce, Stephanomeria pauciflora has small but attractive attractive flowers, the flowers and their seeds and plants may be visited by hummingbirds and/or small mammals including rodents and granivorous birds in search of nectar, food and shelter.
Beneficial Value to Butterflies, Honey Bees and Insects
Brownplume Wirelettuce, Stephanomeria pauciflora has attractive flowers, the flowers and their plants may be visited by butterflies, moths, flies, honeybees and other insects in search of food and nectar.
Special Value to Native Bees
According to The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, Brownplume Wirelettuce, Stephanomeria pauciflora is recognized by pollination ecologists as attracting large numbers of Native bees. Click here for more information on their Pollinator Conservation Program.
The genus Stephanomeria is from the Greek word "stephane" meaning "wreath or crown" and "meros" meaning "division"; the references are a reference to the pappus on the cypselafruit.
The genus Stephanomeria was published by Thomas Nuttall, (1786-1859) in 1841.
The species epithet "pauciflora" (paucifo'lia:) with little foliage, literally “few-leaved.”.
Stephanomeria pauciflora is used for a multitude of personal purposes by southwestern United States indigenous peoples.
Hopi Drug, Gynecological Aid, Root used in various ways to increase mother's milk supply.
Kawaiisu Food, Candy, Thick liquid used as chewing gum.
Navajo, Kayenta Drug, Narcotic, Roots used as a narcotic.
Navajo, Kayenta Food, Candy, Used as chewing gum.
Navajo, Kayenta Other, Ceremonial Items, Used as a paint ingredient for chant arrows used in various ceremonies.
Navajo, Ramah Drug, Gynecological Aid, Strong infusion of root used to hasten delivery of placenta.
Navajo, Ramah Drug, Panacea, Root used as a 'life medicine.'
Navajo, Ramah Food, Candy, Root used for chewing gum.
See complete listing of ethno-botanical uses at Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn.