Plant: shrub, Much branched shrub 1-2 m high; young stems strigose, occasionally bearing glanduar capitate trichomes, these especially dense on the youngest branch tips and foliage; old stems gray, with striate bark Leaves: alternate, exstipulate, sessile, linear to linear-lanceolate, the margins entire; borne in long and short shoots, (0.5-)1.0-12(-27) mm long, 0.5-2 mm wide, variably strigose, sometimes bearing glandular, capitate trichomes INFLORESCENCE: uniflorous in leaf axils, terminal racemes or open panicles Flowers: solitary in the leaf axils of short shoots, often clustered; flowering stalks 5-12(-20) mm long; bractlets linear, 5- 7(-12) mm long, medial on the flowering stalk; sepals (4)5, bright pink, rose, or magenta, strigose and sometimes also with glandular capitate trichomes on the outer surfaces; lowermost sepal 8-10 mm long, 4-6 mm wide, gibbous; elaiophores oblanceolate, 2-3 mm long, pink to light purple, bearing vertical, saccate blisters on the surface that tend to be most prominent on, or restricted to, the upper portion of the outer face; petaloid petals 3, clawed, 4-6 mm long, connate basally for 1-3 mm, the distinct portions of the lateral petals expanded into acute, minutely serrate triangular blades 2.3-4 mm long and 1.5-3 mm wide, the distinct portion of the central petal smaller, oblanceolate, green basally, pink or pink with purple edges distally; stamens 4, ca. 4 mm long, inserted near the distal end of the connate portion of the petaloid petals, distinct from the point of insertion,strongly curved upward, mainly white, pink distally; ovary ca. 3 mm long; style curved upward, pink Fruit: cordate in outline, laterally compressed, ca. 6 mm wide excluding the spines, densely strigose to glabrous, the spines 2-5 mm long, most often with a few to several retrorse barbs near but not at the tip; SEEDS globose, gray-brown, smooth, lacking endosperm Misc: Deserts to oak savanna and chaparral; below 1650 m (5400 ft.); (Jan-) Mar.-Oct.(-Nov.) REFERENCES: Simpson, Beryl B. Andrew Salywon. 1999. Krameriaceae. Ariz. - Nev. Acad. Sci. 32(1).
Simpson and Salywon 1999
Common Name: littleleaf ratany Duration: Perennial Nativity: Native Lifeform: Subshrub General: Low shrub often 0.3-0.5 m, usually less than 1 m across, with many short, crowded, spreading branches. Stems tough and woody with gray bark, upper branches knotty due to many short spur branches. Densely pubescent herbage and grayish with short white hairs, stems root at nodes. Leaves: Alternate, linear 3-9 long by 0.8-1.3 mm wide, drought deciduous, sessile. Flowers: Showy, about 1.5 cm in diameter, solitary or in short racemes with leafy bracts. Sepals bright magenta-purple inside, white hairy outside. Filaments whitish, anthers dull cream colored, styles magenta-purple. Fruits: Globose and moderately compressed, about 6 mm wide, with spines about 3.5 mm with small barbs more or less evenly distributed along upper part of shaft. Ecology: Found on sandy, gravelly plains adjacent to mountains and rocky hills from 500-5,000 ft (152-1524 m); flowers at various times during the year. Distribution: s CA, s NV, s UT, AZ, s NM, s TX; south to c MEX. Notes: Plant is in part a root parasite on other species. Distinguished by being a low-growing, spreading shrub with gray-green, densely-hairy, linear leaves; especially distinctive are the flowers which can cover the plant during wetter times, and the inflated fruits with spines with small hooks at the ends. Palatable to both livestock and wildlife. Ethnobotany: Used predominantly as a red dye and as a poultice of root for sores. Etymology: Krameria named after Johann Georg Heinrich Kramer (1684-1744) an Austrian physician and botanist, while erecta means upright. Synonyms: Krameria glandulosa, K. imparata, K. parvifolia, K. parvifolia var. glandulosa, K. parvifolia var. imparata Editor: SBuckley 2010, FSCoburn 2015