Tucson invaded by popcorn flowers

They were inconspicuous at first, but soon they formed a fuzzy blanket.

Last month, popcorn flowers (Cryptantha) invaded my yard and those of my neighbors to form a prickly, grayish-green groundcover (see photo below).  There are 35 species of popcorn flower in Arizona and I think the one in my yard is the Narrow-leaf popcorn flower (Cryptantha augustifolia). But if any botanists have a different opinion from looking at the photos, please write a comment.

These plants are small (2″ to 10″ high) grayish-green, fuzzy, with tiny (1/8″) white, five-petaled flowers.  The leaves are narrow, grayish, hairy, and up to 1.5″ long.  The plant is uncomfortable to touch because of the hairy bristles.  The plants are in the Forget-me-not or Borage family.

This annual plant blooms from February through June. I had not noticed them in my yard before, but this year there are hundreds.  Apparently the plants germinate in the Fall, then bloom in February and March.  Seeds can lie dormant for many years, just waiting…waiting for the right conditions. Then they explode.

Popcorn-flower1

 

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6 comments

  1. So that’s what they are. My front yard is covered in them and they’ve proved unusually resistant to Round Up. Thanks.

  2. I’ve tried Spectracide Weed and Grass killer (Ace Hardware), made for wide areas and sprayed from a concentrate with your water hose.  It stopped the first batch but apparently even more seeds germinated and took the place of those killed. 

  3. I have a 15-foot hackberry bush in my backyard. It is spiky but pretty when it leafs out in the summer, and it takes almost no water. If it does get enough extra water, the hackberry appear. Any ideas on how to propagate it? I think it would be the perfect bush for along my wall.

    1. Hackberries produce fruit mostly near September. There is a hackberry tree and the bush. The fruit is very tasty, similar to watermelon and has a large seed in the small fruit. Try planting a few seeds.

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