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Vascular Plants of California
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Polyctenium fremontii

Higher Taxonomy
Family: Brassicaceae (Cruciferae)View DescriptionDichotomous Key
Habit: Annual to shrub; sap pungent, watery. Leaf: generally simple, alternate; generally both basal, cauline; stipules 0. Inflorescence: generally raceme, generally not bracted. Flower: bisexual, generally radial; sepals 4, generally free; petals (0)4, forming a cross, generally white or yellow to purple; stamens generally 6 (2 or 4), 4 long, 2 short (3 pairs of unequal length); ovary 1, superior, generally 2-chambered with septum connecting 2 parietal placentas; style 1, stigma entire or 2-lobed. Fruit: capsule, generally 2-valved, "silique" (length >= 3 × width) or "silicle" (length < 3 × width), dehiscent by 2 valves or indehiscent, cylindric or flat parallel or perpendicular to septum, segmented or not. Seed: 1--many, in 1 or 2 rows per chamber, winged or wingless; embryo strongly curved.
Genera In Family: +- 330 genera, 3780 species: worldwide, especially temperate. Note: Highest diversity in Mediterranean area, mountains of southwestern Asia, adjacent central Asia, western North America; some Brassica species are oil or vegetable crops; Arabidopsis thaliana used in experimental molecular biology; many species are ornamentals, weeds. Aurinia saxatilis (L.) Desvaux in cultivation only. Aubrieta occasional waif in central NCoR, Carrichtera annua (L.) DC. in SCo, Iberis sempervirens L., Iberis umbellata L. in PR, Teesdalia coronopifolia (Bergeret) Thell., Teesdalia nudicaulis (L.) W.T. Aiton in southern NCoRO, CCo. Cardaria, Coronopus moved to Lepidium; Caulostramina to Hesperidanthus; Guillenia to Caulanthus; Heterodraba to Athysanus; California taxa of Lesquerella to Physaria; Malcolmia africana to Strigosella.
eFlora Treatment Author: Ihsan A. Al-Shehbaz, except as noted
Scientific Editor: Douglas H. Goldman, Bruce G. Baldwin.
Genus: PolycteniumView Description 

Species In Genus: 1 sp.: western North America. Etymology: (Greek: many combs, from leaf shape)
eFlora Treatment Author: Ihsan A. Al-Shehbaz
Polyctenium fremontii (S. Watson) Greene
Habit: Perennial herb, cespitose; hairs many-branched, some simple and 2-rayed; generally glaucous. Stem: (2)5--16(20) cm, woody at base. Leaf: cauline, short-petioled, (0.5)1--2.2(2.8) cm, rigid, pinnately divided to comb-like, lobes (2)3--4(5) pairs, linear, sparsely to densely hairy; terminal lobe (2)4--7(10) mm, (0.3)0.5--1(1.5) mm wide; distal-most sessile. Inflorescence: elongated or not. Flower: sepals erect to ascending, 1.5--2 mm, base of lateral pair not sac-like; petals 5--6 mm, white to pale purple, not clawed. Fruit: linear silique to oblong silicle, dehiscent, flat perpendicular to septum, unsegmented, (2)4--13(18) mm, 0.9--2 mm wide, glabrous; style (0.2)0.4--0.7(1) mm; pedicel ascending-spreading, (2)4--7(10) mm, straight. Seed: 30--46, 1 row per chamber, 0.7--0.9 mm, oblong; wing 0.
Ecology: Saline soils, vernal pool edges, lake margins, meadows, swales, mud flats, dry streambeds, gravel bars, sagebrush scrub; Elevation: 1000--2500 m. Bioregional Distribution: GB; Distribution Outside California: to Oregon, Idaho, Nevada. Flowering Time: May--Jul
Synonyms: Polyctenium fremontii var. confertum Rollins; Polyctenium fremontii var. fremontii; Polyctenium williamsiae Rollins
Jepson eFlora Author: Ihsan A. Al-Shehbaz
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 Polyctenium fremontii

botanical illustration including Polyctenium fremontii


Citation for this treatment: Ihsan A. Al-Shehbaz 2012, Polyctenium fremontii, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on September 17, 2021.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2021, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on September 17, 2021.

Polyctenium fremontii
click for enlargement
© 2011 Steve Matson
Polyctenium fremontii
click for enlargement
© 2011 Steve Matson
Polyctenium fremontii
click for enlargement
© 2011 Steve Matson

More photos of Polyctenium fremontii in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Polyctenium fremontii:
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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).


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Data provided by the participants of the  Consortium of California Herbaria.
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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).