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Desert Diary


Plants usually are classified largely on the basis of their reproductive structures: flower, seeds, pollen, and the like. This is true also of the plant family Loasaceae. Nevertheless, there are other characters that may seem more pertinent to Chihuahuan Desert folk; characters of the leaves. Perhaps some hint is given by the common name of the family in the Southwest: Stickleaf family; or perhaps another common name, stingleaf.

Most of our desert representatives of the family, although bearing pretty enough flowers, are more apt to be remarked upon for their leaves. Cevallia sinuata, stingleaf, is certainly memorable to anyone who has bare-handed it, living up to its name with long, stinging hairs. Rock-nettle, however, doesn't live up to the nettle part of its common name, but perhaps its bright yellow flowers will allow us to forgive its lack of character. The last of our three representatives of the Loasaceae is Mentzelia, or stickleaf, whose leaves cling stubbornly to clothing. Even though the name stickleaf isn't very glamorous, I guess we're stuck with it.
pen and ink


Contributor: Arthur H. Harris, Laboratory for Environmental Biology, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Overview of Rock Nettle, Eucnides bartonoides
Overview of Stingleaf, Cevallia sinuata
Overview of Stickleaf, Mentzelia multiflora

Top to bottom: Rock Nettle, Stingleaf, and Stickleaf. Top image by A. Konings; center image by G. Konings; bottom image by A.H. Harris. rule


Web Resources

Loasaceae Technical.