Stems: branches 4-8 cm. Leaves: proximal 3-7 cm. Peduncles 1-4 mm. Calyculi: bractlets 4-8 × 1.5-2.5 mm, glabrous. Involucres 7-12 mm. Cypselae 6-8 mm; pappus bristles: the longer 7-11 mm, shorter 5-7 mm. 2n = 16. Flowering Jul-Sep. Open, sandy, gravelly washes and slopes, desert shrub, pinyon-juniper communities; 1500-2900 m; Ariz., Calif., Idaho, Mont., Nev., Oreg., Utah. Pleiacanthus spinosus was first collected by Nuttall, who placed it in Lygodesmia. Rydberg elevated it to the genus level; his proposal was not taken up by others. The species remained in Lygodesmia until A. S. Tomb (1970) transferred it to Stephanomeria. Tomb made the transfer because P.spinosus has the same base chromosome number as Stephanomeria (x = 8) as well as similar echinate pollen grains (Tomb 1974; Tomb et al. 1974) and thereby differs from Lygodesmia, which has. = 9 and echinolophate pollen. Pleiacanthus spinosus also has morphologic traits not shared with any stephanomeria. These include dense, long tufts of wool in the ground-level axils of the bud scales of the stems, sharp-tipped branches and stems, and pappus bristles that are of two lengths and not plumose. Recent results of DNA sequencing studies of Stephanomeria and related North American genera showed that P. spinosus is not a member of the clade of all stephanomerias (J. Lee et al. 2002).
General: Perennial, 10-80 cm tall; stems mostly 1-4, branched, rigid and spine-tipped, bearing tufts of pale to brownish wool at the base (in the axils of bud scales at and just below ground level), otherwise glabrous; plants with milky sap; caudex woody, branched. Leaves: Cauline, alternate, the lowermost blades linear, 0.5-7 cm long, 1-3 mm wide, the upper blades reduced and bract- like, margins entire; blades sessile. Flowers: Heads numerous, borne in compact corymb-like arrays; involucre cylindric to top-shaped, 5-9.5 mm long, 1.3-3 mm wide; phyllaries 10-21 in 3-6 series, tan, with a dark gland just below the apex; ray flowers 1-3, 4-9 mm long, yellow; disk flowers mostly 2-4, 3.5-5.5 mm long, yellow; flowers June-September. Fruits: Achene, column-shaped, 5-8 mm long, with 5 faces separated by 5 broadly rounded ribs, glabrous; pappus bristles 50-60 of 2 lengths, tawny, minutely barbed. Ecology: Dry, open, rocky habitats, mountain slopes, gravelly washes, pinyon-juniper woodlands; 1500-2900 m (5000-9500 ft); Coconino County; western U.S. Notes: The Paiute use a decoction of plant tops for diarrhea. A poultice may be applied for swelling and to promote healing, and the cottony pappus may be placed in the tooth cavity to relieve toothache. Editor: Springer et al. 2008
Plant: Subshrub 1-4 dm, from thick caudex, woolly at base and in lower axils, otherwise glabrous; sap milky; stems few-several; branches intricate, becoming sharp thorns Leaves: cauline or some basal, alternate, linear to scale-like INFLORESCENCE: primary inflorescence a head, each resembling a flower; heads ligulate, terminal on branchlets; peduncles < 7 mm; involucre 8-9 mm; outer phyllaries unequal, ± triangular, ascending; inner phyllaries 4-6; receptacle naked Flowers: 3-5; ligules pink, readily withering Fruit: achenes, 4 mm; pappus of many non-plumose bristles, white to tawny Misc: Deserts, scrub, dry mtn slopes; 1200-3300 m.; Jul-Sep