Plant: small perennial herb; cespitose with woody taproots. STEMS 1-5(-10) cm tall, slender Leaves: linear or the lower ones oblanceolate or elliptic, 5-28 mm long, 0.5-1(-3) mm wide, erect or strongly ascending. Flowers: heterostylous, usually one per node, subsessile or on pedicels to 4 mm long; corollas 8-41 mm long, salverform, pink, purplish, reddish, rose or white Fruit: FRUITS 2-3.5 mm long, 2-5 mm wide, thick-walled, 1.8-1.3 inferior, on recurved pedicels; SEEDS 0.8-2.1 mm in diameter, with hilar ridge in a saucer-shaped concavity Misc: Desert plains, washes, sometimes with pinyon-juniper or oak-pine; 1300-2500 m (4200-8200 ft); Feb-Nov REFERENCES: Terrell, Edward E. 1995 Rubiaceae. Houstonia. J. Ariz. - Nev. Acad. Sci. 29(l): 36.
Dempster 1995, Kearney and Peebles 1969, Heil et al. 2013
Duration: Perennial Nativity: Native Lifeform: Forb/Herb General: Small caespitose perennial herb, 1-5 cm tall, occasionally up to 10 cm tall, from a small woody taproot; stems in dense tufts, slender, leafy. Leaves: Alternate and densely packed along the short stems; blades linear, 5-28 mm long and up to 1 mm wide, erect to strongly ascending; lowest leaves oblanceolate or elliptic, up to 4 mm wide. Flowers: Usually pinkish, with one flower per node along the many short stems; the flowers subsessile or on pedicels to 4 mm long; calyx 4-lobed; corolla 1-4 cm long, funnel-shaped with 4 abruptly spreading lobes at the top (salverform), pink, purplish, reddish, rose or even white. Fruits: Capsule 2-chambered, shaped like 2 spheres glued together side-by-side, the entire capsule 2-3 mm long and 2-5 mm wide, thick-walled, on recurved pedicels; splitting open to release several black seeds. Ecology: Found in pinyon-juniper woodland, rocky and sandy grassland, and along desert washes, from 4,000-8,500 ft (1219-2591 m); flowers February-November. Distribution: s UT, AZ, NM, s TX; south to c MEX. Notes: A low-growing plant forming small clumps with linear leaves and showy pink and white 4-petaled flowers barely popping up above foliage. Distinguished from the similar H. wrightii by its strongly ascending (upward-pointing) leaves, and the flowers being solitary in the nodes. Ethnobotany: Used to treat sore eyes, stomach pains, and menstrual troubles. Etymology: Houstonia is named for William Houston (1695-1733) a Scottish physician and botanist who collected plants in South America; rubra means red in Latin. Synonyms: Hedyotis rubra, Oldenlandia rubra, Houstonia saxicola Editor: SBuckley 2010, FSCoburn 2015, AHazelton 2017