Zinnia acerosa

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Zinnia acerosa
Zinnia acerosa flowers.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Zinnia
Species: Z. acerosa
Binomial name
Zinnia acerosa
(DC.) A.Gray
  • Diplothrix acerosa DC.
  • Crassina acerosa (DC.) Kuntze

Zinnia acerosa is a low growing perennial flowering plant native to the Southwestern United States and Northern Mexico. Common names include desert zinnia, wild zinnia, white zinnia and spinyleaf zinnia. It is a popular landscape plant in the southwest due to its low water use and long bloom period. The flowers also serve as a food source for southwestern butterflies.

In the United States, Zinnia acerosa grows in Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and Texas.[2] In Mexico it has been found in Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Nuevo León, Zacatecas and San Luis Potosí.[3]

Zinnia acerosa is a small, branching subshrub up to 16 cm (6.4 inches) tall. Leaves are very narrow, sometimes needle-shaped, up to 2 cm (0.8 inches) long. The plant produces flower head one per stem, each head with 4-7 yellow or white ray florets surrounding 8-13 yellow or purple disc florets.[3][4]


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Old Zinnia acerosa plant about 1' tall past blooming period in the Tucson Sonoran Desert. Many old zinnias in the desert acquire this interesting gnarly form after many years in the desert.