8 responses to “Monoptilon bellioides”

  1. Sara

    What happy little flowers! They remind me that Spring will arrive soon, even if we have a major snow storm forecast for the next 4 days. 🙂

  2. tom chester

    The plant shown is Monoptilon bellioides, not the somewhat-similar flower of Eriophyllum lanosum. Monoptilon has short spreading hairs on its leaves and stem, as seen in the largest version of the photograph at Flickr, whereas Eriophyllum has woolly appressed hairs. The ray flowers of Monoptilon are spreading to somewhat ascending, whereas the ray flowers of Eriophyllum are typically a bit descending.
    E. lanosum is only found significantly south and west of Split Mountain Road, whereas Monoptilon bellioides is common along Split Mountain Road.

  3. Daniel Mosquin

    Kerry sent along a comment suggesting that this may be misidentified and instead Monoptilon bellioides. It’s hard to tell from the flowers, but the leaves suggest (in most cases) that it may indeed be Monoptilon. Anyone with a bit more familiarity with Californian desert flora care to comment?

  4. elizabeth a airhart

    wish i could help tis a lovely flower
    have a lovely spring time

  5. tom chester

    Hi, Daniel and Kerry!
    I was the one who sent in the original comment, without registering first, and didn’t realize it wouldn’t be posted without registering. I didn’t have time to register then.
    OK, here’s my comment for public consumption.
    The plant shown is Monoptilon bellioides, not Eriophyllum lanosum, which indeed has a somewhat-similar flower. Monoptilon has short spreading hairs on its leaves and stem, as seen in the largest version of the photograph at Flickr, whereas Eriophyllum has woolly appressed hairs. The ray flowers of Monoptilon are spreading to somewhat ascending, whereas the ray flowers of Eriophyllum are typically a bit descending.
    You are far from the first to confuse these two, since the flower is indeed so similar.
    E. lanosum is only found significantly south and west of Split Mountain Road, and is fairly uncommon in the Borrego Desert, whereas Monoptilon bellioides is common along Split Mountain Road and throughout the Borrego Desert.
    I’ve been working on the Borrego Desert Flora actively since 2005, and know both of these species quite well.

  6. tom chester

    I thought you might be interested in “the rest of the story”.
    A friend of mine in Arizona had been worried he had only been seeing Eriophyllum lanosum there so far this year, and not Monoptilon. When he was looking at pix on the web to see if he might have been confusing these species, he found one at a website of a very good botanist that really confused him, since it was a picture of Eriophyllum lanosum misdetermined as Monoptilon.
    As part of the followup discussion with a few people, one of them brought this botany pix of the day to my attention.
    Subsequently, another excellent botanist reported that he had misdetermined an E. lanosum as Monoptilon just in the last week.
    It is clearly very easy to confuse these species, and I’ve undoubtedly done so in the past at times in the field and was corrected by my companions.
    If you really want confusion, our white ligule version of Eriophyllum wallacei, the former var. rubellum, is a dead ringer for E. lanosum, and has confused yet more people. The only unambiguous way to tell the difference is by looking at the pappus, which is hardly ever visible in a picture.
    See Aaron Schusteff’s excellent photo (and discussion in the details) here:
    http://calphotos.berkeley.edu/cgi/img_query?enlarge=0000+0000+0109+0009
    E. lanosum is absent in the northern part of the Anza Borrego Desert, so last year I made a special effort to go see it in the Mason Valley area to compare it to our white version of E. wallacei.
    Some species are simply difficult to distinguish unless you know what to look for. And I have a friend who firmly believes that plants actively try to fool us. (:-)

  7. Daniel Mosquin

    Thanks Tom — actually, your first comment got caught up in the spam filter for whatever reason (who knows). You shouldn’t have to register to comment, but I’m certainly glad you’ve added your thoughts. I’ll correct this entry tomorrow morning.

  8. Kerry Woods

    Tom — thanks for the confirmation on Monoptilon (and for reducing my embarrassment somewhat by noting how easy it is to confuse the two). Eriophyllum was a field ID; not being an expert on southern CA desert flora I jumped at a species I knew from elsewhere, and it wasn’t till close inspection of the photo that I realized it didn’t fit that well… A good lesson learned. (Also great to discover your website; that’s going to be a great resource.)– Kerry Woods

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