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Spectacle Pod Dimorphocarpa wislizeni (Dithyrea wislizeni)


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Spectacle Pod - habit and fruit
© Jon M. Stewart

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Alternate name: Touristplant

Family: Brassicaceae, Mustard view all from this family

Description A grayish, hairy plant, either branched or unbranched, with erect, almost vertical, leaves and white flowers in dense thick racemes.
Habit: native annual herb; may form large colonies.
Height: 8-32 in (20-80 cm)
Leaf: at base, grey-green, lanceolate, shallowly lobed or toothed, prominent central vein, stalked, 1-6 in (3-15 cm) long, 0.2-0.8 in (5-20 mm) wide; on stem, alternate, less lobed.
Flower: white, 4-parted, about 1 in (25 mm) wide, with ovate petals, not overlapping; held in rounded terminal cluster.
Fruit: pod in two round flat cells, connected to resemble eyeglasses; about 0.5 in (12 mm) wide overall.

Flower February to October.

Flower March - July

Habitat Sandy roadsides, sandstone knolls, sand hills and dunes, sandy streambeds and dry washes, desert flats; 3300-7200 ft (1000-2200 m).

Range Native to southwest U.S., from Nevada and Arizona east to Colorado and Texas.

Discussion Also known as tourist plant.

Species in this genus are very similar, all usually given the name Spectacle Pod, as their fruit resemble tiny eyeglasses. Dimorphocarpa candicans branches mostly above the middle, has upper leaves that are abruptly contracted to the stalk at the base (rather than tapered), and has pods 3/8-1/2 (8-12 mm) wide; it occurs from southwestern Kansas south to northern Texas and eastern New Mexico. In both species the anthers are not held strictly erect but are spread somewhat from one another. A remarkable look-alike in a different genus, California Spectacle Pod (Dithyrea californica), has sepals and anthers held erect and yellow-green, shallowly lobed leaves; it occurs from southern Nevada and southeastern California to western Arizona and northwestern Mexico. Until recently all were considered to be in the genus Dithyrea (meaning two shields in Greek, referring to the pod).

Comments Cutting the first blooms will encourage lateral stems which will branch and bloom.

Exposure Preference Sun to partial shade.

Native Distribution W. Colorado & Nevada, s. to w. Texas & New Mexico

Site Preference Sandy areas

Soil Preference Deep, well-drained sands.