Jepson eFlora: Taxon page
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Larrea tridentata

Higher Taxonomy
Family: ZygophyllaceaeView DescriptionDichotomous Key

Habit: Annual, perennial herb, shrub, often armed; caudex present or not. Stem: branched; nodes often angled, swollen. Leaf: 1-compound, opposite, petioled; stipules persistent or not; leaflets entire. Inflorescence: flowers 1--2 in axils. Flower: bisexual; sepals 5, free, persistent or not; petals 5, free, generally spreading, twisted (corolla propeller-like) or not; stamens 10, appendaged on inside base or not; ovary superior, chambers (and lobes) 5--10, each with 1--several ovules, placentas axile. Fruit: capsule or splitting into 5--10 nutlets (= mericarps).
Genera In Family: 27 genera, +- 250 species: widespread especially in warm, dry regions; some cultivated (Guaiacum, lignum vitae; Tribulus, caltrop).
eFlora Treatment Author: Duncan M. Porter
Scientific Editor: Thomas J. Rosatti.
Genus: LarreaView Description 

Habit: Shrub, unarmed. Stem: branched, erect to prostrate, < 4 m, +- red becoming gray; nodes swollen, darker; hairs 0 or appressed. Leaf: stipules persistent; leaflets 2, fused at base. Inflorescence: flowers 1 in axils. Flower: sepals unequal, overlapping, deciduous; petals clawed, twisted, yellow, deciduous; stamen appendages bract-like, coarsely toothed. Fruit: 5-lobed, spheric, short-stalked, hairy, splitting into 5 hairy, 1-seeded nutlets.
Species In Genus: 5 species: warm, dry America. Etymology: (Juan Antonio Pérez Hernández de Larrea, Bishop of Valladolid, Spain, 1730--1803)

Larrea tridentata (DC.) Coville
Leaf: leaflets < 18 mm, < 8.5 mm wide, obliquely lanceolate to curved; awn between leaflets < 2 mm, +- deciduous. Flower: < 2.5 cm wide; sepals ovoid, appressed-hairy; petal claw +- brown; stamens > appendages; ovary hairs dense, straight, stiff, silvery (red-brown in fruit); style 4--6 mm, persistent on young fruit. Fruit: 4.5 mm wide (except hairs), hairs +- 2--4 mm, dense, spreading.
Ecology: Common. Desert scrub; Elevation: < 1000 m. Bioregional Distribution: SNE, D, (uncommon Teh, SnJV, SCo, SnJt); Distribution Outside California: to southwestern Utah, Texas, central Mexico. Flowering Time: Apr--May Note: Closely related to southern South America Larrea divaricata. Clones may live > 11000 years, longest among extant plants; resinous odor characteristic; dominant shrub over vast areas of desert.
Synonyms: Larrea divaricata Cav. subsp. tridentata (DC.) Felger & C.H. Lowe; Larrea tridentata var. arenaria L.D. Benson
eFlora Treatment Author: Duncan M. Porter
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botanical illustration including Larrea tridentata


Citation for this treatment: Duncan M. Porter 2016. Larrea tridentata, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on May 02, 2016.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2016. Jepson eFlora,, accessed on May 02, 2016.

Larrea tridentata
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© 2013 Neal Kramer
Larrea tridentata
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© 2010 Neal Kramer
Larrea tridentata
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© 2007 Aaron Schusteff
Larrea tridentata
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© 2004 James M. Andre
Larrea tridentata
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© 2010 Barry Breckling
Larrea tridentata
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© 2016 Keir Morse

More photos of Larrea tridentata in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Larrea tridentata:
SNE, D, (uncommon Teh, SnJV, SCo, SnJt);
Markers link to CCH specimen records. If the markers are obscured, reload the page [or change window size and reload]. Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.
map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).

View elevation by latitude chart
Data provided by the participants of the Consortium of California Herbaria.
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CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time.