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Lepidospartum burgessii
(Gypsum scalebroom, Burgess' scale broom)

[taxon report][distribution map][all photos][line drawing]



Family: Asteraceae

Scientific Name: Lepidospartum burgessii B.L.Turner

Synonyms: None

Vernacular Name: Gypsum scalebroom, Burgess' scale broom

R-E-D Code: 3-3-2

Description: Broomlike shrub up to 1.5 m tall; stems many-branched, covered with silvery, matted, feltlike hairs out of which protrude numerous small oil blisters; leaves needlelike, alternate, 5-12 mm long; heads 3-4, terminal on stems; flowers 3, rarely 4, per head, bright yellow; achenes covered by dense white hairs and topped by a pappus of many slender bristles. Flowers June to October with peak in late July through early September.

Similar Species: This species has been mistaken for Chrysothamnus but the three rounded bracts of the involucre on the heads distinguish it from that genus.


Distribution: New Mexico, southern Otero County, Alkali Lakes; adjacent Texas, Hudspeth County.

Habitat: Stabilized gypsum dunes with Chihuahuan desert scrub and arid grassland; 1,050-1,110 m (3,500-3,700 ft).

Remarks: A very narrow endemic of the Alkali Lakes area west of the Guadalupe Mountains.

Conservation Considerations: There is little evidence of recruitment in Lepidospartum burgessii. Seed set is negligible and clonal propagation appears low. Development of private land may negatively impact the species.

Important Literature (*Illustration):

Ladyman, J.A.R., L. DeLay, P. Gegick and M.A. Bogan. 1999. Status and reproductive biology of Lepidospartum burgessii (Burgess broomshrub or gypsum scalebroom). Report to: U.S. Geological Survey, Biological Resource Division, Arid Lands Field Station, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.

*New Mexico Native Plants Protection Advisory Committee. 1984. A handbook of rare and endemic plants of New Mexico. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque.

Turner, B.L. 1977. Lepidospartum burgessii (Asteraceae, Senecioneae), a remarkable new gypsophilic species from Trans-Pecos Texas. Wrightia 5:354-355.

Information Compiled By: Juanita A.R. Ladyman, 1999

Agency Status:
Taxon USFWS State of NM USFS BLM Navajo Nation Natural Heritage NM Global Rank
Lepidospartum burgessiiSoCE.Sen.S1G2


Photo credits in header Peniocereus greggii var. greggii © T. Todsen,
Lepidospartum burgessii © M. Howard, Argemone pleiacantha ssp. pinnatisecta © R. Sivinski
©2005 New Mexico Rare Plant Technical Council