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Talinum brachypodum
(Laguna Fame Flower)

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

Family: Portulacaceae

Scientific Name: Talinum brachypodum S. Watson

Synonyms: Talinum brevifolium Torr.

Vernacular Name: Laguna Fame Flower

R-E-D Code: 3-1-3

Description: Small, succulent perennial herb; taproot thickened, tuberous, often branched; stems, tufted, few-branched, procumbent; leaves alternate, crowded on stem, nearly terete, usually blunt or obtuse apically, 1.5-2.5 cm long and 1.5-2.5 mm thick, light glaucous green; flowers borne singly (rarely in pairs) on short pedicels from leaf axils, mostly perfect, sometimes pistillate (usually both types on same plant), about 2-2.5 cm in diameter; sepals 2, foliaceous, deciduous in fruit; petals 5-8, lavender-pink (sometimes lighter or darker); stamens numerous; fruit a capsule, nearly globose, 3-valved dehiscing longitudinally and disintegrating at maturity; seeds roughly 1 mm in diameter, nearly discoid, often slightly concave on one or both sides, nearly smooth, black, covered by a thin translucent aril (pellicle) which imparts a grayish or slightly bluish appearance. Flowers June to August.

Similar Species: The more widespread Phemeranthus brevicaulis (= Talinum eximium, T. pulchellum, and T. youngii) is often sympatric and may be distinguished by the more acute leaf tips, flowers born in short indeterminate axillary cymes, sepals acute and persistent in fruit, more pointed petals, and narrower and more pointed fruits. Phemeranthus brevifolius is very similar to T. brachypodum; however, it occurs further to the west (closest known populations are northeast of Gallup, New Mexico). It is separable by its smaller size (averaging about 1/2 to 2/3 the size of T. brachypodum in all proportions), and by its preference for substrates of fine-grained non-calcareous iron rich red sandstone of the "Rimrock Country" of the Colorado Plateau.

Distribution: New Mexico, eastern Cibola, western Valencia, and northern Socorro counties.

Habitat: Very shallow pockets of calcareous silt to clay soils overlying limestone or travertine, or fine silty sand overlying calcareous sandstones; open piƱon-juniper woodland with little understory and scattered cacti and shrubs or Chihuahuan desert scrub.

Remarks: Talinum brachypodum is closely akin to Phemeranthus brevifolius and has been synonymized under it in Flora of North America, Volume 4 (2003); however, the two are recognizably distinct. This is a very ornamental species that has caught the eye of a few rock garden plant nurseries. It is apparently restricted to a narrow belt of calcareous habitats in central New Mexico, but further search may extend its known distribution.

Conservation Considerations: It is cultivated for commercial purposes on a small scale, but it is easily propagated so collecting is little or no threat. It is negatively impacted in some habitats by mining operations for travertine and limestone, but to date these operations have had little affect on the overall population. Domestic grazing pressure is often heavy in areas where this species is found and plants are often eaten, but this appears to have little lasting affect on populations, which seem to reproduce abundantly in recently grazed sites.

Important Literature (*Illustration):

Information Compiled By: ,

Agency Status:
Taxon USFWS State of NM USFS BLM Navajo Nation Natural Heritage NM Global Rank
Talinum brachypodumTalinum brachypodium...S1

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