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FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 4 | Nyctaginaceae

11. Tripterocalyx (Torrey) Hooker, Hooker’s J. Bot. Kew Gard. Misc. 5: 261. 1853.

Sand-puffs [Greek tri, three, pteron, wing, and calyx, in reference to the perianth]

Leo A. Galloway

Abronia Jussieu [unranked] Tripterocalyx Torrey in J. C. Frémont, Rep. Exped. Rocky Mts., 92. 1843

Herbs, annual, viscid pubescent to nearly glabrous, from slender or stout and ± woody taproots. Stems decumbent to semierect, unarmed, without glutinous bands on internodes. Leaves petiolate, unequal in size in each pair; blade ± thick and succulent, base usually asymmetric. Inflorescences axillary, pedunculate, capitate clusters; receptacle flat to somewhat rounded-conic, with short, pedicel-like projections; flowers maturing from one side of inflorescence to other; bracts persistent, not accrescent, 5-10, distinct, thin and translucent, forming an involucre, linear-lanceolate to ovate, broad. Flowers bisexual, chasmogamous; perianth radially symmetric, funnelform or salverform, constricted beyond ovary, abruptly expanded to 4-5-lobed limb; stamens (3-)4-5, included; styles included; stigmas linear. Fruits fusiform, indurate throughout, or spongy on exterior, minutely puberulent or glabrous; wings 2-4, translucent, prominently veined, scarious, extending beyond apex and/or base of body; sulci smooth or coarsely rugose.

Species 4 (4 in the flora): North America (including n Mexico).


Galloway, L. A. 1975. Systematics of North American desert species of Abronia and Tripterocalyx. Brittonia 27: 328-347.

1 Fruits usually with 2 wings, body occasionally ribbed laterally, extending prominently into wings   4 Tripterocalyx crux-maltae
+ Fruits usually with more than 2 wings, body often ribbed laterally, lateral ribs, if extending into wings, only slightly raised   (2)
2 (1) Perianth tube 6-18 mm; perianth limb 3-5 mm diam., lobes inconspicous   1 Tripterocalyx micranthus
+ Perianth tube 12-30 mm; perianth limb 8-13 mm diam., lobes over 1.5 mm, showy   (3)
3 (2) Perianth limb pale pink to magenta; fruits usually over 20 mm   2 Tripterocalyx carneus
+ Perianth limb white adaxially, white to pink abaxially; fruits usually 20 mm or less   3 Tripterocalyx wootonii

Lower Taxa


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