Stems often reddish, at least at nodes, short glandular-pubescent, viscid. Leaves: petiole 1-6.5 cm; blade ovate to elliptic-oblong, 1.5-8 × 0.5-5 cm, margins entire, often undulate, often scabro-ciliate; surfaces glabrous or glandular-puberulent, somewhat ± glaucous abaxially. Inflorescences 10-25-flowered; bracts linear-lanceolate to ovate, 5-14 × 1.5-5 mm, papery, base often ± attenuate, margins glandular short ciliate, glabrous, or glabrate. Perianth: tube pink to pinkish red, 12-25 mm, limb white adaxially, often pinkish abaxially, 8-11 mm diam., lobes showy, over 1.5 mm. Fruits oval in profile, 13-20(-25) × 9.5-17.5 mm, walls indurate; lateral ribs 1-3, or ribs absent, if exending into wings, only slightly raised; wings (2-)3(-4). Flowering spring-fall. Sandy soils, desert scrub; 1000-2200 m; Ariz., Colo., N.Mex., Utah.
FNA 2003, Allred and Ivey 2012, Heil et al. 2013
Duration: Annual Nativity: Native Lifeform: Forb/Herb General: Annual herb, 10-70 cm tall, from a taproot; stems erect to ascending or decumbent, reddish at the nodes, sticky, and covered with gland-tipped hairs. Leaves: Opposite, on petioles 1-6 cm long; blades broadly ovate to oblong, 2-7 cm long and 6-45 mm wide, with smooth to weakly undulate margins; lower leaf surface usually white-waxy. Flowers: Pink and white, arranged in tight head-like (capitate) clusters of 10-25 flowers; clusters borne on peduncles 2-10 cm long, which emerge from the leaf axils; each flower cluster subtended by a set of 5 lanceolate to ovate bracts, 4-13 mm long; flower petals fused into a long narrow pink tube, 13-25 mm long, which expands at the top into a white 5-lobed limb, about 1 cm diameter. Fruits: Achenes oval in profile, 13-25 mm high and 10-18 mm wide, with 3 transluscent, veined wings (occasionally 2 or 4); containing a single seed. Ecology: Found in sandy soils, in desert grassland, desertscrub, sagebrush, and juniper savanna communities, from 3,500-7,500 ft (1067-2286 m); flowers April-September. Distribution: AZ, NM, CO, and UT Notes: This sprawling, often pink-stemmed herb is distinct due to its tight rounded clusters of pink and white tube-shaped flowers, followed by papery, 3-winged fruits. The flowers are pink on the outside and topped with spreading, white triangular lobes. Also look for the sticky-viscid upper stems, flower stalks, and flowers, which are usually coated with sand. Many sources consider T. wootonii to be a variety of the more southerly T. carneus, which has pink to purple flowers (the lobes at the top are not white) and larger fruits, usually more than 2 cm long. As a genus, Tripterocalyx resembles the genus Abronia; however, Tripertocalyx has fruits with membraneous, often transparent and veined wings, which extend both above and below the body of the fruit. In contrast, Abronia has fruits with thick, leathery wings that extend above the body of the fruit but not below. Ethnobotany: Infusion of the powdered root taken as a snake bite remedy and for swollen glands, especially in the throat. Etymology: Tripterocalyx comes from the Greek tri, three, and pteron, wing, alluding to the 3-winged fruits; wootonii honors Elmer Ottis Wooton (1865-1945), a New Mexico botanist. Synonyms: Tripterocalyx carnea var. wootonii, Abronia wootonii Editor: AHazelton 2017