Baileya multiradiata 

Desert Marigold - Baileya multiradiata
East of Hillsboro, New Mexico
April 9, 2014

In April and May 2014, Baileya multiradiata, were blooming in large numbers east of Hillsboro (north of the Percha Box).  Its English Common Names include Desert Marigold, Showy Desert Marigold, Paper Daisy, and Desert Baileya.  Its scientific synonyms include Baileya pleniradiata and Baileya thruberi.  It gets its name, Paper Daisy, because the flowers turn light brown and “papery” when the are “gone past”.  This species will bloom from early spring into the fall.

The range of this species in the United States is shown on the BONAP map to the right.   It is also found southward through Mexico to Durango and Aguascalientes.  

The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation notes that Baileya multiradiata is "recognized by pollination ecologists as attracting large numbers of native bees”. 

The blossoms of this species resemble those of Baileya pleniradiata when it blooms in  the fall, having smaller flower heads with fewer rays.  “The shape of the style apex is a useful character to distinguish between fall-blooming specimens.”

The chemicals found in Baileya multiradiata are known to affect mammal species.  The species is reported to be toxic for sheep and goats, a problem in the over grazed land where this species thrives.  In this case the chemical is hymenoxon, a poisonous sesquiterpene lactone.  Many plant species contain sesquiterpene lactone, including; Chamomile, Lettuce, Sagebrush, Artichoke, Gaillardia, etc.  Artemisinin, another sesquiterpene lactone, is effectively used in the treatment of some types of malaria.  Other chemicals found in this species have been shown (in tests) to be effective agents against tumors and some types of leukemia.    

Depending on plant or locale, it is a biennial or short-lived perennial.  Baileya multiradiata was first described by Harvey and Gray in 1849.  This species is a host for the Desert Marigold Moth (Schinia miniana).

The specimen shown below was collected by Josiah Gregg on April 13, 1847 near San Juan, Mexico (Chihuahua?).  Gregg collected throughout the American Southwest and northern Mexico and is recognized in the species name of many plants.  Most people will know Gregg from his two volume book Commerce of the Prairies (1844).



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© Robert Barnes 2018