It is native to a section of the Great Basin straddling the far northern California-Nevada border, where it grows in sagebrush habitat. It is nearly endemic to Nevada, with only one occurrence present in Lassen County, California.
Tripterocalyx crux-maltae grows in a patch on the ground, the multibranched stems spreading not more than 30 centimeters long. The stems are reddish in color and coated in sticky glandular hairs.
Each leaf has a fleshy green blade up to 7 centimeters long which is borne on a long petiole. The herbage is sticky in texture.
The inflorescence is a head of several elongated flowers borne on long, glandular pedicels all attached at the small central receptacle. Each trumpet-shaped purple or magenta flower may be up to 2.5 centimeters in length and over a centimeter wide at the face of the corolla, with 4 or 5 lobes.
The fruit has wide, thin, net-veined or ribbed wings and hairy surfaces.
- "Tripterocalyx crux-maltae". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA. Retrieved 15 December 2015.
- California Native Plant Society Rare Plant Profile: Tripterocalyx crux-maltae
- Jepson Manual Treatment for Tripterocalyx crux-maltae
- Flora of North America
- Tripterocalyx crux-maltae — UC Photo gallery
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