Perennials; caudex simple, (usually woody); densely pubescent, trichomes (sessile or short-stalked), several-rayed, rays simple or furcate, (smooth or tuberculate). Stems simple from base, erect, (unbranched, sparsely leaved), to 7 dm. Basal leaves: blade elliptic or obovate to oblong, 4-15 cm, margins entire, dentate, or lyrate-pinnatifid. Cauline leaves: (proximal often narrowed to short petiole, distal sessile); blade broadly elliptic to obovate or rhombic, 0.5-3(-5) cm, margins entire. Racemes dense or slightly elongated. Fruiting pedicels (spreading or recurved, loosely sigmoid), 5-25 mm. Flowers: sepals elliptic to ovate, 3.5-6(-7) mm, (median pair usually thickened apically, cucullate); petals (white, often purple-veined, fading purplish), suborbicular to obovate, obdeltate, or cuneate, 4.5-10(-12) mm, (often narrowed to broad claw, apex emarginate, less frequently claw undifferentiated from blade). Fruits (pendent or horizontal, sessile or substipitate), subglobose to broadly ellipsoid, not or slightly inflated, (4-)5-8 mm; valves (not retaining seeds after dehiscence), glabrous throughout; replum as wide as or wider than fruit; ovules 4-8(-12) per ovary; style 1-3(-4) mm. Seeds flattened. 2n = 18, 36.
Flowering Mar-Oct. Rocky draws, canyons, stony hills, ridges, rock crevices on limestone ledges, lava cliffs, sand and gravel of dry stream beds, rocky slopes, talus, shade of bushes or cactus clumps; 400-2400 m; Ariz., N.Mex., Tex.; Mexico (Chihuahua, Coahuila, Sonora).
Wiggins 1964, Kearney and Peebles 1969
Duration: Perennial Nativity: Native Lifeform: Forb/Herb General: Decumbent to partially erect perennial with silvery-stellate herbage and stems 10-40 cm long. Leaves: Basal leaves oval to oblanceolate, 2-12 cm long, repand to lyrately pinnatifid, gradually narrowed toward base to a slender petiole one-half as long as blade or less, obtuse to rounded at apex; cauline leaves oblanceolate, 7-25 mm long, remote, acute to obtuse at apex, entire. Flowers: Inflorescence elongated in fruit, erect or ascending; petals 7-9 mm long, distinctly clawed, blade white, pink, or purplish. Fruits: Fruiting pedicels slender, horizontal to recurved to recurved, 5-15 mm long, styles 1.5-2 mm long; silicle globose, 4-6 mm in diameter, horizontal to pendent, glabrous. Ecology: Found on slopes, outwash slopes, and in partial shade of bushes; 1,500-5,000 ft (457-1524 m); flowers January-May. Distribution: se AZ, s NM, sw TX; south to c MEX. Notes: Physaria species (classified as Lesquerella in many treatments) have gray-green leaves, often with stellate hairs, white or yellow flowers, and round, globe-shaped fruits with a persistent style. This species distinguished by being an often decumbent perennial with most of the leaves constricted to the basal rosette, which persists during non-flowering periods; the stems are not branched from the base and quite long and wiry for the genus; white-purplish flowers, firm fruits and the fact the valves (center wall) of fruits are left behind after dehiscence all are characteristic of this plant. Ethnobotany: Unknown, but other species in the genus have many uses. Etymology: Physaria is from Greek phusa or physa or bellows, while purpurea means purple. Synonyms: Lesquerella purpurea, Lesquerella purpurea subsp. foliosa Editor: SBuckley 2010, FSCoburn 2015