Shreve and Wiggins 1964, Allred and Ivey 2012, Welsh et al 2003, Kelley et al 2014 (Jepson)
Duration: Annual Nativity: Native Lifeform: Forb/Herb General: Annual herbs, 10-40 cm tall; stems erect with a few ascending branches, sparsely strigose with stiff apressed hairs. Leaves: Whorled to opposite near the base and alternate above, sessile, the basal leaves early-withering; blades linear to oblong, 0.5-5 cm long, covered with bristles, the margins entire. Flowers: White, in cymes that are slightly scorpionoid or not at all scorpioid; calyx lobes broadly ovate with obtuse tips, appearing angled due to thickened midribs; corolla white or sometimes yellow, funnelform, 1-13 mm long, the limb enlarging to 5-6 mm wide as the fruit matures. Fruits: Nutlets 4 per flower, all the same size and winged, or with 3 nutlets winged and 1 unwinged, these 2-3 mm long, lanceolate to lance-ovate, studded with blunt tubercles; the wing on the winged nutlets is broad, light-colored, and entire or crenate. Ecology: Found on rocky and gravelly soils, below 8,000 ft (2438 m); flowers March-June. Distribution: WA and ID, south through CA, AZ, NM and w TX; to n MEX (Sonora) Notes: Cryptantha is a genus of bristly herbs with white or yellow flowers in spikes that are usually 1-sided and curling like a scorpion-s tail (-scorpioid-). The seeds, called -nutlets- in the borage family, are crucial to identification of the species. As the nutlets are quite small and difficult to examine in the field with a hand lens, it is usually necessary to make a collection of mature material for later identification under a dissecting scope. C. pterocarya is an annual of the Intermountain West and Sonoran Desert which becomes quite common in wet years. The winged nutlets clearly distinguish it from others in the genus. The nutlets are also larger (2-3 mm) than many other annual Cryptanthas. Ethnobotany: Unknown, but other species in the genus have uses. Synonyms: Eritrichium pterocaryum, Krynitzkia pterocarya Editor: SBuckley, 2010, AHazelton 2015 Etymology: Cryptantha comes from the Greek krypto, "hidden," and anthos, "flower," a reference to the first described species in the genus which has inconspicuous flowers that self-fertilize without opening; pterocarya means wing nut from Greek pteron and karyon.