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Vascular Plants of California
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Rhinotropis californica

Higher Taxonomy
Family: PolygalaceaeView Description 
Habit: [Annual] perennial herb, subshrub, shrub [tree, vine]; hairs unbranched. Leaf: simple, generally alternate (opposite or whorled); veins pinnate; margin generally +- entire; stipules generally 0. Inflorescence: raceme, spike, or panicle. Flower: bisexual, generally bilateral and +- pea-flower-like [or +- radial]; sepals 5, fused or not, lateral or inner pair generally larger and petal-like (called wings); petals 5[3], fused to stamen tube, [+- similar or] different with 1 lower keel petal, 2 strap-like upper petals, and 2[0] lateral petals; stamens 3--10, +- fused, tube open at top; ovary chambers 1--8 with 1 ovule each, style 1 or 0. Fruit: capsule [drupe or nut; occasionally winged]. Seed: often with aril.
Genera In Family: 29 genera, 1000 species: especially tropics, subtropics, few cultivated.
eFlora Treatment Author: Robert E. Preston & Thomas L. Wendt
Scientific Editor: Bruce G. Baldwin.
Genus: RhinotropisView DescriptionDichotomous Key

Common Name: MILKWORT
Habit: Root odor generally wintergreen. Inflorescence: raceme, occasionally grouped and panicle-like; cleistogamous flowers occasionally solitary. Flower: bilateral; lateral 2 sepals enlarged; petals 3 or 5, keel petal generally with cylindric beak; stamens 6--8, anthers dehiscent at tip, appearing 1-chambered; with nectary disk or gland; ovary chambers 2, stigma 2-lobed. Fruit: capsule. Seed: fusiform or ovoid, black, generally hairy, generally with prominent white aril on 1 end.
Etymology: (Greek: snout keel, for beaked keel petal) Note: Polygala as treated broadly in TJM2 is not monophyletic; all CA milkworts now in Rhinotropis (Abbott 2011).
eFlora Treatment Author: Robert E. Preston & Thomas L. Wendt
Reference: Wendt 1979 J Arnold Arbor 60:504--514; Abbott 2011 JBRIT 5:125--137
Rhinotropis californica (Nutt.) J.R. Abbott
Habit: Perennial herb, generally from rhizome. Stem: generally decumbent, 0.5--3.5 dm. Leaf: 7--60 mm, lanceolate or elliptic to (ob)ovate. Inflorescence: thornless. Flower: open flowers 9--14.5 mm, or +- cleistogamous flowers 2.5--5 mm and occasionally present in separate, generally basal raceme; sepal wings ciliate, tip occasionally puberulent, pink (white); keel petal beak 1.2--3 mm, notched or contorted (entire) below, +- 0.7--1 mm diam near tip, yellow or white when pollen shed. Fruit: 4.5--10.5 mm including stalk, green. Seed: 3.5--6 mm including hairs; aril glabrous. Chromosomes: 2n=18.
Ecology: Coastal prairie and forest, chaparral, occasionally on serpentine; Elevation: 10--1400 m. Bioregional Distribution: NW, CW (exc SCoRI), n ChI; Distribution Outside California: southwestern Oregon. Flowering Time: Apr--Jul
Synonyms: Polygala californica Nutt.
Jepson eFlora Author: Robert E. Preston & Thomas L. Wendt
Reference: Wendt 1979 J Arnold Arbor 60:504--514; Abbott 2011 JBRIT 5:125--137
Index of California Plant Names (ICPN; linked via the Jepson Online Interchange)

Previous taxon: Rhinotropis acanthoclada
Next taxon: Rhinotropis cornuta

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Botanical illustration including Rhinotropis californica

botanical illustration including Rhinotropis californica

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Citation for this treatment: Robert E. Preston & Thomas L. Wendt 2022, Rhinotropis californica, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora, Revision 11,, accessed on April 19, 2024.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2024, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on April 19, 2024.

Rhinotropis californica
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©2023 California Academy of Sciences

More photos of Rhinotropis californica
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Geographic subdivisions for Rhinotropis californica:
NW, CW (exc SCoRI), n ChI
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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).


Data provided by the participants of the  Consortium of California Herbaria.
View all CCH records
All markers link to CCH specimen records. The original determination is shown in the popup window.
Blue markers indicate specimens that map to one of the expected Jepson geographic subdivisions (see left map). Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.

CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa, if there are more than 1 infraspecific taxon in CA.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time (fruiting time in some monocot genera).