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Linanthus pungens

Linanthus pungens

Linanthus pungens
Linanthus pungens. Synonym: Leptodactylon pungens. (Desert Trumpets)
Polemoniaceae (Phlox Family)

Semi-desert. Shrublands, woodlands, openings. Spring.
Above and left: McElmo Canyon, Canyon of the Ancients National Monument, May 25, 2014, December 8, 2014, & May 31, 2010.

As the two photographs above indicate, the spring and winter appearance is quite different.

Linanthus pungens
Linanthus pungens. Synonym: Leptodactylon pungens. (Desert Trumpets)
Polemoniaceae (Phlox Family)

Semi-desert. Shrublands, woodlands, openings. Spring.
McElmo Canyon, Canyon of the Ancients National Monument, April 27, 2005.

Linanthus pungens shares many characteristics with its close Phlox cousins, Phlox austromontana and Phlox canescens.  All three have very fine leaves, gray dead leaves from last year, and five-petaled flowers and all grow in the same habitats at the same altitudes.  But Linanthus pungens is often a short shrubby looking plant a foot or so tall vs. the matted Phlox; its yellow to white petals are, in bud, often twisted and when they open they are bigger than the pure white ones of the two Phlox species; and its flowers open in the evening (and often close in the morning) and easily become a raggedy mess after a rain  --  as in the photograph at left.

"Leptodactylon" is Greek for "thin fingers" and refers to the fine, narrow leaves.  "Lin anthus" is Greek for "Flax- [Linum] like flower".

Linanthus pungens
Linanthus pungens. Synonym: Leptodactylon pungens. (Desert Trumpets)
Polemoniaceae (Phlox Family)

Semi-desert. Shrublands, woodlands, openings. Spring.
De-Na-Zin/Bisti Wilderness, May 21, 2009.

This photograph was taken at 9:30 a.m. and flowers were already closing.  They will reopen in the evening.  Even when closed, though, the flowers are quite noticeable because they appear in such great numbers on each plant --  and because there are often many plants in a small area.  The plant shown at left was one of hundreds that gave a yellow cast to a hillside in the De-Na-Zin/Bisti Wilderness.

Linanthus pungens
Linanthus pungens. Synonym: Leptodactylon pungens. (Desert Trumpets)
Polemoniaceae (Phlox Family)

Semi-desert. Shrublands, woodlands, openings. Spring.
Hawkins Preserve, Cortez, May 22, 2006.

The very narrow leaves of L. pungens show you quickly that this plant is not Tiquilia latior, with which it could easily be confused.  The latter has much broader and longer leaves but does also have the low mat growth pattern and a gray mat of dried leaves and flowers.  When the two plants are in flower, there is no confusion.

Linanthus pungens is found in all Four Corners states; T. latior is found in Arizona and Utah, perhaps in New Mexico, and not in Colorado.

Linanthus pungens

Linanthus pungens

Linanthus pungens. Synonym: Leptodactylon pungens. (Desert Trumpets)
Polemoniaceae (Phlox Family)

Semi-desert. Shrublands, woodlands, openings. Spring.
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, May 31 and April 18, 2010.

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Range map for Linanthus pungens