Jepson eFlora: Taxon page
Vascular Plants of California
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Pilostyles thurberi


Higher Taxonomy
Family: ApodanthaceaeView Description 
Habit: Perennial herb? (duration of plants uncertain), stem parasites, non-green (chlorophyll 0), dioecious? (number of plants contributing to flowers observed on given host uncertain). Stem: reduced, thread-like, inside host stem. Leaf: simple, bract- and/or scale-like, 2--6, subtending flower, generally in 2 series. Inflorescence: flower 1. Flower: unisexual, radial, fleshy; sepals 4--5[7], often fused at base; petals 0; stamens many, generally fused to style to form column that is expanded at tip into disk or knob (column, disk completely of carpels in female flowers according to Blarer et al.); anthers or stigmatic hairs on column, below disk margin; ovary +- inferior, chamber 1, placentas parietal. Fruit: berry-like, +- fleshy, generally dehiscing irregularly in age. Seed: many, minute.
Genera In Family: +- 2--3 genera, +- 12--20 species: southwestern United States to South America, eastern Africa, southwestern Asia, western Australia. Note: Poorly known taxonomically, ecologically, reproductively. Molecular evidence (Blarer et al., and online references) indicates Rafflesiaceae, in which our plants were included in TJM (1993), are polyphyletic, consisting of 3 main lineages belonging to different orders, evidently Malvales or Cucurbitales for our pls.
Unabridged Note: Morphological and molecular evidence (Barkman et al., 2004; Blarer et al. 2004, Nickrent et al., 2004; Davis et al., 2007) has established that the traditional broadly circumscribed Rafflesiaceae are polyphyletic, consisting of three or four main lineages belonging to different orders. Rafflesia and related, large-flowered, Old-World, stem and root parasites of Vitaceae are presently considered to be members of the Malpighiales and either sister or basal to members of the Euphorbiaceae. Mitrastema, with two disjunct, medium-flowered species of the Old and New World tropics that are parasitic on the roots of Fagaceae, is now classified in the Mitrastemonaceae in the Ericales. The two genera of Cytinaceae, the neotropical Bdallophytum (two species, root parasites of Burseraceae) and Cytinus (about eight species, root parasites on various host taxa), appear to be related to the Malvales. The phylogenetic placement of Apodanthaceae, with 2 or 3 genera in both the Old and New World that have small flowers and are stem parasites on Fabaceae and Salicaceae (Flacourtiaceae), remains unresolved, but apparently involves either the Malvales or Cucurbitales.
eFlora Treatment Author: George Yatskievych
Scientific Editor: Thomas J. Rosatti.
Genus: PilostylesView Description 

Habit: Perennial herb.
Etymology: (Latin: hair pillar, from hairs on flower column) Note: Only leaves, flowers, fruits visible on host.
Pilostyles thurberi A. Gray
Habit: Leaves, sepals brown to maroon. Leaf: overlapping, 4--7, 1--1.5 mm, round or ovate. Flower: < 2 mm; sepals +- like leaves, +- yellow to cream or not adaxially and/or on margins; column +- dark green, disk < 1 mm diam, yellow; anthers in ring of +- 3 rows.
Ecology: Open desert scrub; Elevation: < 300 m. Bioregional Distribution: s DSon (Riverside, San Diego, Imperial cos.); Distribution Outside California: to Nevada, Texas, Mexico. Flowering Time: Jan Note: Parasitic on Psorothamnus, especially Psorothamnus emoryi.
Jepson eFlora Author: George Yatskievych
Index of California Plant Names (ICPN; linked via the Jepson Online Interchange)
Listed on CNPS Rare Plant Inventory

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Botanical illustration including Pilostyles thurberibotanical illustration including Pilostyles thurberi

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Citation for this treatment: George Yatskievych 2012, Pilostyles thurberi, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on July 13, 2024.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2024, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on July 13, 2024.

Pilostyles thurberi
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©2014 Keir Morse
Pilostyles thurberi
click for image enlargement
©2014 Keir Morse
Pilostyles thurberi
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©2012 Keir Morse
Pilostyles thurberi
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©2013 James M. Andre
Pilostyles thurberi
click for image enlargement
©2014 Keir Morse

More photos of Pilostyles thurberi
in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Pilostyles thurberi:
s DSon (Riverside, San Diego, Imperial cos.)
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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 occurrence).


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 Flowering-Fruiting Monthly Counts

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).