Jepson eFlora: Taxon page
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Xerophyllum tenax

Higher Taxonomy
Family: MelanthiaceaeView DescriptionDichotomous Key

Habit: Perennial herb, from rhizome or bulb, or rhizomes ending in weakly developed bulbs, scapose or not. Leaf: alternate, whorled, or mostly basal and spirally arranged, deciduous after 1 year or not. Inflorescence: raceme, panicle, or flowers 1. Flower: perianth parts 6, in 2 petal-like whorls or of sepals and petals, free or fused below, +- spreading; stamens 6, from perianth, anthers attached at base or near middle; ovary superior or partly inferior, chambers 3, styles 3, persistent. Fruit: capsule, loculicidal or septicidal.
Genera In Family: 10 genera, 130 species: northern hemisphere. Note: W North America Zigadenus moved to Toxicoscordion.
eFlora Treatment Author: Dale W. McNeal, except as noted
Scientific Editor: Dale W. McNeal, Thomas J. Rosatti.
Genus: XerophyllumView Description 

Habit: Plant non-flowering for several years, stalk dying after fruiting; rhizome woody, tuber-like. Stem: stout, simple, leafy. Leaf: persistent, wiry, tough, grass-like, strongly scabrous. Inflorescence: raceme, dense, +- club-shaped, longer (to 50 cm) in fruit. Flower: perianth parts free, oblong to ovate, persistent, +- white to cream, 5--7-veined; filaments wider at base, anthers attached near middle; style short, stigmas thread-like. Fruit: 3-angled, loculicidal. Seed: 9--18, oblong, 3-angled, black.
Species In Genus: 2 species: North America. Etymology: (Greek: dry leaf, from tough, persistent leaves)

Xerophyllum tenax (Pursh) Nutt.
Stem: 15--150 cm. Leaf: basal in dense clump, 30--100 cm, 2--6 mm wide; cauline many, reduced upward. Inflorescence: pedicels 2--5 cm, spreading to +- erect. Flower: 5--10 mm; perianth parts +- oblong; style +- 1 mm, stigma branches 2--4 mm. Fruit: 5--7 mm. Chromosomes: n=15.
Ecology: Dry open slopes, ridges, montane conifer forest; Elevation: < 2300 m. Bioregional Distribution: KR, NCoRO, CaRH, n SNH, CCo, SnFrB; Distribution Outside California: to British Columbia, Montana, Wyoming. Flowering Time: May--Aug
eFlora Treatment Author: Dale W. McNeal
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botanical illustration including Xerophyllum tenax


Citation for this treatment: Dale W. McNeal 2016. Xerophyllum tenax, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on May 01, 2016.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2016. Jepson eFlora,, accessed on May 01, 2016.

Xerophyllum tenax
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© 2009 Barry Breckling
Xerophyllum tenax
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© 2008 Keir Morse
Xerophyllum tenax
click for enlargement
© 2009 Barry Breckling
Xerophyllum tenax
click for enlargement
© 2008 Keir Morse
Xerophyllum tenax
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© 2011 Steve Matson
Xerophyllum tenax
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© 2013 Barry Rice

More photos of Xerophyllum tenax in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Xerophyllum tenax:
KR, NCoRO, CaRH, n SNH, CCo, SnFrB;
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.