Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

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

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Hoffmannseggia microphylla, Wand Holdback

Wand Holdback has yellow flowers with red streaking that blooms from March to October in Arizona and April in California. Hoffmannseggia microphylla Wand Holdback yellow flowers are typical “pea” flowers with “wings” and a “banner”. The plants have a limited distribution where that are found only in Arizona and California. Hoffmannseggia microphylla Wand Holdback is a perennial upright shrub that prefers dry sandy or rocky mesas and slopes. Largest populations of this species are in southern California. Hoffmannseggia microphylla Wand Holdback’s flowering stalk is an elongated raceme; fruits have a crescent- or sickle-shape to them. Hoffmannseggia microphylla Wand Holdback prefers sandy soil or desert washes. The plant in the photograph was growing near Box Canyon Road, Riverside, Co., California.

Scientific Name: Hoffmannseggia microphylla
Common Name: Wand Holdback
Also Called:
Family: Fabaceae or Leguminosae Family
Synonyms: (Caesalpinia virgata)
Status: Native
Duration: Perennial
Size: Up to 7 feet or more.
Growth Form: Shrub; plants shrubby; erect; densely puberulous; woody taproot.
Leaves: Green; bipinnately compound; 3 leaflets; soon deciduous.
Flower Color: Yellow, yellow with red-streaked; inflorescence an elongate raceme; fruits with crescent- or sickle-shaped pods.
Flowering Season: March to October; April in California.
Elevation: Up to 1,000 feet; up to 3,000 feet in California.

Habitat Preferences: Dry sandy or rocky mesas and slopes.

Recorded Range: Wand Holdback is relatively rare in the United States where it is found only Arizona and California. In Arizona it is limited to the southwest corner of the state; largest populations in California where it is found in the southern southeast county and Inyo County, California. It is also native to Baja California and Mexico.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Hoffmannseggia microphylla.

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 7 species and 7 accepted taxa overall for Hoffmannseggia. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 29 accepted species names and a further 18 of infraspecific rank for the genus.

In the Southwestern United States: Arizona has 3 species of genus, California has 2 species, Nevada has 1 species, New Mexico has 3 species, Texas has 5 species, Utah has 1 species. All data is approximate and subject to taxonomic changes.

Comments: In Southwest Desert Flora also see: Indian Rushpea, Hoffmannseggia glauca.

Date Profile Completed: 04/12/2017, updated format 10/12/2017
Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, California.
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search - (accessed 04/12/2017)
The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 04/12/2017).
Beryl B. Simpson 2017. Hoffmannseggia microphylla, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on April 12, 2017.
SEINet synonyms, scientific names, geographic locations, general information - as Caesalpinia virgata (accessed 04/12/2017).