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Lygodesmia texana (Texas skeleton plant)
Marcus, Joseph A.

Lygodesmia texana

Lygodesmia texana (Torr. & A. Gray) Greene

Texas Skeleton Plant, Texas Skeleton Weed, Skeleton-plant, Purple Dandelion, Flowering Straw

Asteraceae (Aster Family)

Synonym(s): Lygodesmia aphylla var. texana


USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Texas Skeleton Plant grows 12–24 inches tall, with smooth, almost leafless stems. Its few leaves are at the base of the plant and are narrow, gray-green, with short lobes. The bare stems, growing at odd angles, suggest its common name. The flower heads, about 2 inches across, grow singly at the end of flower stems. Only 1 capitulum flowers at a time on each slender, forking stem. The bracts form a tube about 1 inch long, and the flower head extending from it opens out almost flat. The capitulum is composed of 8-12 ligulate florets. The limb of each floret is typically orchid-pink, but is occasionally white. Each ligule has 5 minute teeth at the tip. When the stems are broken, they exude sap which coagulates into a gum.


Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf Shape: Linear
Leaf Margin: Laciniate
Size Notes: 12-15 inches tall.
Size Class: 1-3 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Pink , Purple
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug


Native Habitat: Found on Edwards Plateau, Rio Grande plains, and the Panhandle. Well-drained limestone soils.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
Conditions Comments: Skeleton plant gains its common name from its minimal foliage. What leaves it does have are so unobtrusive as to make the stems appear bony and twiggy. Do not overwater it or allow it to be overcrowded by other plants in the garden. Many butterflies use it as a nectar source.


Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes
Nectar Source: yes
Deer Resistant: Minimal


Propagation Material: Seeds
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

Order seed of this species from Native American Seed and help support the Wildflower Center.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Fredericksburg Nature Center - Fredericksburg, TX
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX
Sibley Nature Center - Midland, TX
Brackenridge Field Laboratory - Austin, TX
Nueces River Authority - Uvalde, TX

Herbarium Specimen(s)

NPSOT 0060 Collected May 19, 1990 in Bexar County by Lottie Millsaps
NPSOT 0229 Collected June 3, 1992 in Comal County by Mary Beth White
NPSOT 0224 Collected May 24, 1992 in Comal County by Mary Beth White

3 specimen(s) available in the Digital Herbarium

Wildflower Center Seed Bank

LBJWC-39 Collected 2006-05-05 in Travis County by Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

1 collection(s) available in the Wildflower Center Seed Bank


Bibref 248 - Texas Wildflowers: A Field Guide (1984) Loughmiller, C. & L. Loughmiller

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

USDA: Find Lygodesmia texana in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Lygodesmia texana in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Lygodesmia texana


Record Modified: 2015-09-03
Research By: TWC Staff

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