Rosaceae Purshia mexicana

Multiple images of creamy white flowers with five rounded petals.

Purshia mexicana var. stansburyana

Synonyms: Purshia stansburiana; Cowania mexicana

Family: Rosaceae – Rose Family

Shrubs or small trees; 1.98' to 11.6' (0.6 to 3.5 meters) tall

Leaves: alternate; simple; pinnatifid; leaves lobed; glandular above and hairy below; 0.12” to 0.6” (3 to 15 mm) long; evergreen

Flowers: 5 white to cream petals; 5 sepals; showy and fragrant; bisexual, rarely unisexual; stamens commonly 5; pistils commonly 5 (can be 4 to 12); radially symmetrical; cup-like base to flower; petals 0.2” to 0.36” (5 to 9 mm) long

Pollinators: other genera in this family are pollinated by insects

Fruits: Achenes – one sided fruit; seed has a feathery tail. Rose hips contain several achenes.

Fruit provides food for wildlife. Some plants in this family are important wildlife browse, but some have a tendency to accumulate cyanide.

Blooms in Arches National Park: April, May, June, July, August, September, October, early November

Habitat in Arches National Park: desert shrub, grassland and pinyon-juniper communities

Location seen: widespread everywhere, park road mile 0 to 2.5, Park Avenue mile 3.2, park road around Balanced Rock (mile 9), Windows, Devils Garden

Other: The genus name, “Purshia”, honors Frederick Traugott Pursh (1774-1820), an author of one of the earliest floras of North America, Flora Americae Septentrionalis. The species name, “mexicana”, means “of or from Mexico”, referring to the plant's range. The variety name, “stansburyana”, honors Howard Stansbury (1806-1863), an American civil and topographical engineer. The previous genus name, “Cowania, honors James Cowan (?-1823), a British amateur botanist.

The family is large and complex and some botanists think it should be divided into more than 1 family. The family is held together by the presence of the hypanthium (a cup-shaped structure on which the calyx, corolla, and often the stamens are inserted).

Last updated: January 27, 2023

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