Jepson Flora Project: Jepson Interchange    

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Jepson Interchange (more information)
©Copyright 1993 by the Regents of the University of California

  • Up-to-date information about California vascular plants is available from the Jepson eFlora.



Annual, perennial herb, shrubs, generally bristly or sharply hairy
Stem prostrate to erect
Leaves cauline, often with basal rosette, generally simple, alternate; lower sometimes opposite, entire
Inflorescence: cyme, generally elongate, panicle-, raceme- or spike-like, coiled in flower, generally uncoiled in fruit or flowers 1–2 per axil
Flowers generally bisexual, generally radial; sepals 5, free or fused in lower half; corolla 5-lobed, generally salverform, top of tube generally appendaged, appendages 5, alternating with stamens, sometimes arching over tube; stamens 5, epipetalous; ovary superior, generally 4-lobed, style generally entire
Fruit: nutlets 1–4, smooth to variously roughened, sometimes prickly or bristled
Genera in family: ± 100 genera, ± 2000 species: tropical, temp, especially w North America, Medit; some cultivated (Borago, Echium, Myosotis, Symphytum ). Almost all genera may be TOXIC from alkaloids or accumulated nitrates
Recent taxonomic note: Recently treated to include Hydrophyllaceae [Olmsted et al. 2000 Mol Phylog Evol 16:96–112]
Family description, key to genera by Timothy C. Messick.


Timothy C. Messick and Barbara Veno

Stem 2–40 cm, strigose, breaking apart at nodes or not
Leaves generally alternate, generally 0.5–4 cm, ± linear, strigose to sharp-bristled
Inflorescence: pedicel in fruit generally free from nutlets, generally recurved
Flower: sepals generally < fruit, upper 2 in fruit generally > others; corolla 0.8–3 mm, white; style attached to receptacle, unbranched, generally persistent, stigma 1, head-like
Fruit: nutlets generally 4, spreading, 1–4.5 mm, generally paired, generally compressed, marginal prickles hooked at tip, not barbed; nutlet pairs or all 4 often dissimilar in shape, ornamentation, margin width
Species in genus: 15 species: CA to B.C., WY, TX, n Mex; also South America
Etymology: (Greek: comb nut, from dentate nutlet margins in some species)
Reference: [Veno 1979 PhD dissertation UCLA]
Horticultural information: STBL.


P. peninsularis I.M. Johnst.

Stem prostrate to ascending, 2–24 cm
Inflorescence: pedicel in fruit 1–1.5 mm
Flowers: basal cleistogamous; in fruit lower 3 sepals ± equal
Fruit: nutlets 1.1–2 mm, elliptic to ovate; basal nutlets 2–4 per flower, not paired, reflexed, 1–3 unmargined, others narrowly ± dentate-margined; cauline nutlets paired, generally straight, margins narrowly to widely membranous, ± dentate
Chromosomes: n=12
Ecology: Washes, roadsides, clearings
Elevation: 30–300 m.
Bioregional distribution: Sonoran Desert
Distribution outside California: Baja California

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