Proboscidea althaeifolia (Benth.) Dcne.
Family: Martyniaceae
desert unicorn-plant,  more...
[Martynia althaeifolia Benth.,  more]
Proboscidea althaeifolia image
Liz Makings  
PLANT: Decumbent and spreading perennial to 2 dm high. ROOTS large and fusiform. LEAVES: simple; petioles 3-18 cm long; blades nearly reniform or suborbicular to broadly ovate, 2-7 cm long, 2-8 cm wide, the margins entire to deeply lobed. INFLORESCENCE: short racemes with an initial axis length of 5-12 cm but lengthening in fruit to 1-2 dm. FLOWERS: 3-16 and fragrant; pedicels 2-8 cm long, slender, ascending in anthesis and with a linear basal bract; calyx bracts orbicular or broadly ovate to oblongfalcate, 5-10 mm long, 2-5 mm wide; calyx 1-1.5 cm long, the lobes cut one third to one half its length, viscid-pubescent without, glabrous within, the margins glandularciliate; corolla yellowish-brown externally, yellow to bronze-orange internally, the tube with pale blotches and maroon, reddish-brown or rust-colored spots in two rows internally and leading out to the throat and lobes, 2-3 cm long, slightly to strongly ventricose, infundibular to campanulate, the lobes spreading; filaments viscidpubescent at their base; pistil as long as or longer than the stamens. FRUIT: body very slender, 5-6 cm long and ca. 12 mm thick, crested dorsally and sometimes ventrally, the horns about twice as long as the body, the distal tooth on the dorsal suture often forming a slender horn. NOTES: In sandy soil and on dunes and gravelly hills: Cochise, Gila, Graham, Maricopa, Mohave, Pima, Pinal, Santa Cruz, Yavapai, Yuma cos.; below 1200 m (4000 feet); May-Sept; CA, NM, TX; n Mex., Peru. REFERENCES: Raul Gutierrez Jr., 2007, Vascular Plants of Arizona: Martyniaceae. CANOTIA 3 (2): 26-31.
Wiggins 1964
Duration: Perennial Nativity: Native Lifeform: Forb/Herb General: Perennial from deeply set tuberous root, shoots emerging with summer rains, stems and petioles semi-succulent and viscid-sticky. Leaves: Often with petioles 4-11 cm long, blades 2-6 cm, broadly ovate to orbicular or kidney-shaped and shallowly lobed. Flowers: Flowers 4 cm, showy, corollas bright yellow inside tube and on lobes with brown-purple speckles and dark yellow-orange nectar guides, tube often bronze colored outside. Fruits: Capsule body 4-6.6 cm, claws 9-14 cm. Seeds 6-9 mm, obovoid, blackish and warty. Ecology: Found on sandy-gravelly soils of arroyos, washes, below 4,500 ft (1372 m); flowers May-August. Distribution: s CA, AZ, NM, s TX; south to n MEX. Notes: Notably, black seeds are only found in the native, undomesticated species. This species is distinctive with its yellow flowers. Ethnobotany: Widely eaten, both seeds and fruit. When young, fruit is similar to okra. Seri peeled the fleshy root and ate the cortex. Used for basketry. Etymology: Proboscidea is from Greek proboskis, elephant-s trunk, and althaeifolia means with leaves like the genus Althaea. Synonyms: Martynia althaeifolia, Martynia arenaria, Proboscidea arenaria Editor: SBuckley 2010, FSCoburn 2015
Proboscidea althaeifolia image
Anthony Mendoza  
Proboscidea althaeifolia image
Liz Makings  
Proboscidea althaeifolia image
Liz Makings  
Proboscidea althaeifolia image
Liz Makings  
Proboscidea althaeifolia image
Thomas Van Devender  
Proboscidea althaeifolia image
Thomas Van Devender  
Proboscidea althaeifolia image
Anthony Mendoza  
Proboscidea althaeifolia image
Anthony Mendoza  
Proboscidea althaeifolia image
Thomas Van Devender  
Proboscidea althaeifolia image
Thomas Van Devender  
Proboscidea althaeifolia image
Anthony Mendoza  
Proboscidea althaeifolia image
Thomas Van Devender  
Proboscidea althaeifolia image
Anthony Mendoza  
Proboscidea althaeifolia image
Liz Makings  
Proboscidea althaeifolia image
Thomas Van Devender  
Proboscidea althaeifolia image
Thomas Van Devender  
Proboscidea althaeifolia image
Anthony Mendoza  
Proboscidea althaeifolia image
Thomas Van Devender  
Proboscidea althaeifolia image
Thomas Van Devender  
Proboscidea althaeifolia image
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Proboscidea althaeifolia image
Liz Makings  
Proboscidea althaeifolia image
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