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Eryngium heterophyllum (Wright's eryngo)
Bransford, W.D. and Dolphia

Eryngium heterophyllum

Eryngium heterophyllum Engelm.

Wright's Eryngo, Mexican Thistle

Apiaceae (Carrot Family)

Synonym(s): Eryngium wrightii

USDA Symbol: erhe3

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

This whole plant has a silvery thistle look. The leaves as well as the bracts around the flower are bristle-toothed. It grows 1 1/2-2 feet tall, with a heavy, stout stem densely branched on the upper half. The stems are smooth, but the leaves are divided into sharp lobes on each side of a midrib. The flowers are clustered on a more or less egg-shaped head, up to 3/5 inch long and smaller at the end and about 1/2 inch across. They are surrounded by showy, spiny leaf bracts. When the tiny, silvery-looking flowers mature, they turn sky-blue.

This large genus of mostly temperate regions resembles the thistles of the aster family (Asteraceae) in their prickliness, but the flowers reveal that these species belong to the carrot family. In Europe roots of some species are candied, and in South America the fiber caraguata is obtained from the leaves of one. In North America curative powers have been ascribed to some species.


From the Image Gallery

4 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Fruit Type: Schizocarp

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Blue
Bloom Time: Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct


USA: AZ , LA , NM , TX
Native Distribution: Southeastern Arizona east to western Texas and south to Mexico.
Native Habitat: Sandy soil in grasslands, open woods, and along watercourses, usually in mountains.


Use Ornamental: It is an attractive plant, suited for use in flower arrangements, as the flowers hold their form and color for an extended period and can be handled easily enough if one is careful in cutting them.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

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.

Wildflower Center Seed Bank

LBJWC-1118 Collected 2007-10-04 in Presidio 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 Eryngium heterophyllum in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Eryngium heterophyllum in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Eryngium heterophyllum


Record Modified: 2023-03-08
Research By: TWC Staff

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