Desert Needle (Palafoxia arida)

Desert Needle (Palafoxia arida)

Palafoxia arida is a species of flowering plant in the aster family known by the common names desert palafox, Desert needle and Spanish needle. It is native to the deserts of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. It is an annual herb producing an erect, branching, glandular stem. There are two varieties, with the larger, Palafoxia arida var. gigantea, reaching two meters in maximum height. The rough-haired leaves are linear or lance-shaped and may exceed 10 centimeters long. The inflorescence is an array of up to 40 flower heads. The cylindrical heads are about 2 to 3 centimeters long, lined with long, pointed phyllaries, and bearing up to 40 pink or white tubular disc florets. The fruit is an achene over a centimeter long including the pappus.


About the author

Jim Mattern

Jim is a scapegoat for the NPS, an author, adventurer, photographer, radio personality, guide, and location scout. His interests lie in Native American and cultural sites, ghost towns, mines, and natural wonders in the American Deserts.