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Blow Wives
Achyrachaena mollis
About Blow Wives (Achyrachaena mollis) Nurseries Show All Photos The annual herb Achyrachaena mollis bears the common name blow-wives, which is both singular and plural. It is the only species in the monotypic genus Achyrachaena. It is a flower which grows to approximately one foot in height on a strong, straight stem. Atop the stem is a large, rounded bud which opens into a spherical cluster of flowers. The actual flowers are small and yellow and nearly invisible behind the showy fruits, which extend shiny bright white scales which look like long rectangular flower petals. These silky white scales catch the wind, which allows the single-seeded fruits to be dispersed. The plant is common in low-elevation hills and grasslands all over California, and into southern Oregon and northern Baja California. Blow-wives has some invasive potential, but is not known as one of the more troublesome weeds.
Plant Description
Plant Type
Annual herb

Max. Height
1 - 1.3 ft (0.3 - 0.4 m)

Flower Color

Flowering Season

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Grassy places


Elevation ?
4' - 6126'

Annual Precip. ?
7.4" - 86.4"

Summer Precip. ?
0.14" - 2.03"

Coldest Month ?
22.1° F - 57.1° F

Hottest Month ?
45.2° F - 80.4° F

Humidity ?
0.45 vpd - 27.46 vpd

Sunset Zones ?
7*, 8*, 9*, 10, 11, 14*, 15*, 16*, 17*, 18*, 19*, 20*, 21*, 22*, 23*, 24*

Landscaping Information
Water Requirement ?
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Nursery Availability
Sometimes Available

Other Names
Common Names
Blow-wives, Soft Blow Wives

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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