Turtleback, Velvet turtleback

Psathyrotes ramosissima


Color: Yellow

Common name: Turtleback, or Velvet turtleback

Latin name: Psathyrotes ramosissima


Height: 2-6 inches

Description: Turtleback is a low, neatly mounded plant producing spreading stems which are hairless to densely woolly in texture. The knobby inflorescence is lined with woolly gray-green phyllaries with dull points that curve outward. It contains several hairy yellow disc florets.

Leaf: Leaves are borne on long stalks. The leaf blade is variable in shape, generally roughly rounded, and up to 2 cm long. It has a wavy, bluntly toothed edge and a bumpy, velvety surface coated in woolly fibers and shiny hairs. It is brownish to gray-green to very pale green in color.

Range: s East of Sierra Nevada, Desert

Habitat: Sandy creosote-bush scrub

Elevation: generally < 1000 m.

Flowering time: Mar–Jun

Notes: Psathyrotes ramosissima, a dicot, is an annual or perennial herb that is native to California and is also found outside of California, but is confined to western North America. This photo was taken on April 8, 2004 in Mule Canyon north of Barstow, San Bernardino County, California.

Photo below of a Velvet Turtleback in bloom.  Photo taken in January, 2023 in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park by Paulette Donnellon.

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Photo tips: Most digital point-and-shoot cameras have a macro function - usually symbolized by the icon of a little flower. When you turn on that function, you allow your camera to get closer to the subject, looking into a flower for example. Or getting up close and personal with a bug. More on desert photography.

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