Annuals, 10-200 cm. Stems scabrous to nearly glabrous, sometimes distally stipitate-glandular. Leaf blades lance-linear to linear, 20-120 × 2-55 mm. Involucres cylindric to narrowly turbinate. Phyllaries ± equal, 10-25 × 1-2.5 mm, ± scabrous, sometimes stipitate-glandular. Ray florets 0. Disc florets 9-40; corollas ± actinomorphic, 9-13 mm, throats ± cylindric, longer than lobes. Cypselae 10-16 mm; pappus scales of inner cypselae 8-12 mm. 2n = 24.
Flowering late winter-spring(-summer). Sandy soils; 30-1000 m; Ariz., Calif., Nev., Utah; Mexico (Baja California, Sonora).
Plants of Palafoxia arida 90-150 cm with phyllaries 16-25 mm (from dunes west of Yuma, Arizona) have been treated as var. gigantea. Plants referable to P. arida have been named P. linearis (Cavanilles) Lagasca (including var. gigantea M. E. Jones) in other floras; P.linearis is a Mexican species (see B. L. Turner and M. I. Morris 1976).
FNA 2006, Shreve and Wiggins 1964, Kearny and Peebles 1979
Duration: Annual Nativity: Native Lifeform: Forb/Herb General: Annual herbs, 10-200 cm tall, from a slender taproot; stems erect, branched, scabrous to nearly glabrous, sometimes distally stipitate-glandular. Leaves: Mostly alternate, with lower leaves sometimes opposite; petiolate; blades lance-linear to linear, 2-12 cm long, the base tapering into the petiole. Flowers: Flower heads white to pink, discoid, on long peduncles in loose terminal panicles; involucre (ring of bracts wrapped around the flower head) cylindric to narrowly turbinate, the bracts (phyllaries) in 2-3 series, all equal in length, 1-2.5 cm high, more or less scabrous and sometimes stipitate-glandular; florets 9-40, all discs, the corollas pinkish to purplish to whitish, 9-13 mm high. Fruits: Achenes 1-1.5 cm long, obpyramidal, 4-angled, densely to sparsely hairy, topped with a pappus of scales about 1 cm long. Ecology: Found in sandy soils, below 3,000 ft (914 m); flowers late winter to spring, and occasionally into summer. Distribution: AZ, CA, NV, UT; south to MEX (Baja California, Sonora). Notes: This attractive taprooted annual is distinguished by its light pink, narrow-cylindric discoid flower heads; narrow gray-green leaves covered with long white appressed hairs (canescent); and upper stems often covered with short gland-tipped hairs. Some older treatments use the name P. linearis for Arizona material; however, FNA places these specimens in P. arida, claiming that P. linearis is a Mexican species that does not reach as far north as the US border. Variety gigantea is sometimes recognized within this species; these are unusually large plants, 90-150 cm tall with phyllaries 16-25 mm long, from the sand dunes west of Yuma, Arizona. Ethnobotany: Cahuilla used it to make a yellow dye. Etymology: Palafoxia is named to honor General Jos_ Palafox (1776-1847) a Spanish patriot; arida means dry land. Synonyms: Palafoxia arida var. gigantea Editor: AHazelton 2015