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Wislizenia refracta (Jackass clover)
Loughmiller, Campbell and Lynn

Wislizenia refracta

Wislizenia refracta Engelm.

Jackass Clover, Spectacle Fruit

Capparaceae (Caper Family)



USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Jackass clover is a sturdy plant, 3-5 feet tall with many branches. Most of the leaves are divided into 3 segments. The yellow flowers, about 1/2 inch across, grow in clusters around the upper fourth of the stem and bloom from the bottom up. The many stamens extend beyond the petals and persist even after the petals wither, giving the flower head a feathery appearance. They often grow so thickly that they give a yellow cast to a considerable area.

Although the plant parts are poisonous if eaten, this is a valuable honey plant nevertheless. The three leaflets give it a resemblance to clovers (Trifolium) in the pea family (Fabaceae), but the plants are not related. The origin of the word jackass in the common name is unknown.


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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Annual
Habit: Herb
Size Class: 3-6 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep


USA: AZ , CA , NM , NV , TX
Native Distribution: Californias Central Valley east through southern Nevada to western Texas, and south to Mexico.
Native Habitat: Low, sandy or alkaline soil in deserts and arid grasslands; frequent along roads and washes.

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.


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

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Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2007-08-31
Research By: TWC Staff

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