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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 October 24, 2016.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2016. Jepson eFlora,, accessed on October 24, 2016.

Larrea tridentata
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© 2012 Neal Kramer
Larrea tridentata
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© 2010 Barry Breckling
Larrea tridentata
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© 2016 Keir Morse
Larrea tridentata
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© 2009 Keir Morse
Larrea tridentata
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© 2004 James M. Andre
Larrea tridentata
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© 2008 Thomas Stoughton

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. Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues. Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
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.