Desert Pincushion

Esteve's Pincushion - False Yarrow - Broad-leaved Chaenactis



White, 1-inch, rallies, disk-like flowers with many petals bloom March through August, depending on latitude and elevation. Petals are sometimes tinged pink. Each floret produces a seed-like fruit with papery scales.


Members of the Sunflower Family (Compositae). Pincushion flowers are common spring wildflowers throughout the North American deserts. These green, erect annuals are so named because they have discoid, rayless flower heads resembling the shape of a pincushion.


All four of the North American deserts throughout California, Utah, Nevada, Arizona New Mexico, and northern Mexico.


Rocky, gravely mesas and plains between 1,000 and 6,500 feet.


Desert pincushion is a small, open plant that grows up to one foot high. It has fuzzy, 1/2 to 1-1/2 inch long leaves that are divided into short, narrow lobes.

Atop the hairy flower stems, the flowers within each head vary in size, with the outside usually being markedly larger than the center ones.

Various other pincushion (genus Chaenactis) species of the desert regions include:

  • Fremont's Pincushion (C. fremontii) grows slightly larger to 16 inches tall.
  • Mojave Pincushion (C. xantiana and C. marcantha) smaller and less hairy.
  • Douglas' Pincushion (C. douglasii) grows throughout desert mountains.
  • Parish's Chaenactis (C. parishii) grows in northern Baja, California.
  • Pebble Pincushion (C. carphoclinia) grows on dry bajadas.
  • Yellow Pincushion (C. glabriuscula) has yellow flowers.

More Wildflowers

We have an online wildflower field guide that is designed to help you identify desert wildflowers by color, scientific name, region and common name. The pictures are sized to work on the iPod, iPhone, iPad and similar devices. With your iPod or phone you will easily be able to identify wildflowers while in the desert. Links for downloads are on the bottom of the Wildflower Field Guide page.

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.

Mojave Desert Wildflowers - This book is the standard by which all other wildflower books are measured. The author, Jon Mark Stewart, has combined super photography with concise information. This book has an entire color page for each wildflower covered, with a discussion of the wildflower. 210 pages with 200 color photos. More...

What's Blooming Now - Check the Wildflower Reports

More Wildflowers


Related DesertUSA Pages


Share this page on Facebook:

DesertUSA Newsletter -- We send articles on hiking, camping and places to explore, as well as animals, wildflower reports, plant information and much more. Sign up below or read more about the DesertUSA newsletter here. (It's Free.)

The Desert Environment
The North American Deserts
Desert Geological Terms


Enter Email:

Shop desert store



Copyright © 1996- and Digital West Media, Inc. - -