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Desert Cistanthe
Cistanthe ambigua

About Desert Cistanthe (Cistanthe ambigua) Cistanthe ambigua (formerly Calandrinia ambigua) is a species of flowering plant in the purslane family known by the common name desert pussypaws. It is native to the deserts of northern Mexico and Arizona and California in the United States, where it grows in sandy soils. This is an annual herb producing an upright stem to a maximum height of about 18 centimeters. The thick leaves are linear to spoon-shaped and grow along the stem rather than in a basal rosette at the base of the plant. The inflorescence is a tight cluster of white flowers with 3 to 5 petals each a few millimeters long. The fruit is a capsule containing up to 15 minute shiny black seeds.
Plant Description
Plant Type
Annual herb

Max. Height
7.1 in (18 cm)

Flower Color
White, Black

Native Status

Natural Setting
Elevation ?
-193' - 1845'

Annual Precip. ?
2.5" - 10.3"

Summer Precip. ?
0.28" - 1.17"

Coldest Month ?
52.5° F - 60.7° F

Hottest Month ?
79.8° F - 89.7° F

Humidity ?
4.73 vpd - 46.62 vpd

Landscaping Information
Nursery Availability
Never or Almost Never Available

Other Names
Common Names
Desert Pussypaws

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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