desert unicorn-plant, more...
[Martynia althaeifolia Benth., more]
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.
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