Cryptantha spithamaea

Cryptantha spithamaea I.M.Johnston

J. Arnold Arbor. 20: 385-386 (1939)

[Cryptantha HOME / INICIO]

Cryp-tán-tha  spi-tha-mae´-a
possibly from the Latin spithama, "a span", defined as the distance between tip of thumb and tip of little finger of one hand (ca. 23 cm)
Homotypic Synonyms:
   C. rostellata (Greene) Greene var. spithamaea (I.M. Johnst.) Jeps., Fl. Calif. [Jepson] 3: 354 (1943)

R. F. Hoover 2169, 16 May 1937, USA: California, Mariposa County, 3 miles nw. of Coulterville
   GH00096279 (Holotype), UC762988 (Isotype)

Jepson eFlora Treatment

Cryptantha spithamaea has a Calfornia Rare Plant Rank of 1B.3 in the CNPS Inventory

Distribution: USA: California, Mariposa and Tuolumne Counties
LEFT: Kartesz, J.T., The Biota of North America Program (BONAP). 2012. North American Plant Atlas (
Y: Dark green=present in state; Yellow=present in county, rare. Accessed 13 Jul 2014.
MIDDLE: Consortium of California Herbaria (CCH):
RIGHT: Herbarium records from CCH2. (Click to see live records.)

Protologue Description:
Cryptantha spithamaea, sp. nov.
      Herba annua erecta 5-20 cm. alta; ramis numerosis ascendentibus saepe simplicibus 1-2 mm. crassis plus minusve brunnescentibus cum pilis 0.4-1 mm. longis plerumque appressis haud abundanter vestitis; foliis firmiusculis lineari-oblanceolatis vel linearibus 5-15 mm. longis 1-3 mm. latis, utrinque pilis saepe e pustulis orientibus appressis haud abundantibus vestitis, inferioribus oppositis mox deciduis majoribus 1-10 mm. distantibus, superioribus quam inferioribus dimidio minoribus saepe angustioribus; cymulis scorpioideis 3-6 cm. longis geminatis ebracteatis 1-2 cm. longe pedunculatis vel solitariis, floribus inferioribus bracteatis; floribus ut videtur uniseriatis, superioribus congestis, inferioribus non raro ad 1 cm. distantibus; corolla alba, limbo 1.5-2 mm. diametro, tubo ca. 2 mm. longo lobis calycis aequilongo; calycibus fructiferis strictis vel stricte ascendentibus 3-5 mm. longis, lobis linearibus quam nuculis saepe duplo longioribus, in costa pilis rigidis curvatis vel sinuosis armatis alibi pilis gracilibus mollibus appressis vestitis, apice erectis vel maturitate plus minusve divergentibus; ovulis 4, abaxiali semper maturante; nuculis 1 vel rariter 2 lanceoideis 2-2.5 mm. longis laevibus nitidis, basi truncatis, apice acuminatis, dorso convexis, ventre obtusis, sulco clauso imam ad basim in areolam triangularem aperto; gynobasi ca. 1.5 mm. alto; stylo ca. 0.5 mm. longo, ad 0.5 mm. infra apicem nuculae attingente.
      Translation to English: Erect annual herb, 5-20 cm tall; with numerous ascending branches, often simple, 1-2 mm thick, more or less brownish with trichomes 0.4-1 mm long, generally appressed, not abundantly covered; leaves firm, linear-oblanceolate or linear, 5-15 mm long, 1-3 mm broad, often with trichomes on both sides, pustulate, appressed, not abundant, the lower opposite, soon deciduous, the larger 1-10 mm apart, the upper and lower ones are often narrow; cymules scorpioid, 3-6 cm long, bifurcate, ebracteate, 1-2 cm long, pedunculate or solitary, lower flowers bracteate; flowers evidently uniseriate, upper congested, lower as it seems, being heaped on the upper part, the lower up to 1 cm apart; corolla white, limb 1.5-2 mm in diameter, tube ca. 2 mm long, calyx lobes as long; fruiting calyx strictly ascending, 3-5 mm long, lobes linear often double the nutlet length, midrib hairs rigid, curved or sinuous, armed, covered in soft, slender, appressed hairs elsewhere, apices erect or at maturity more or less divergent; ovules 4, abaxial always maturing; nutlets 1 or rarely 2, lanceolate, 2-2.5 mm long, smooth, shining, base truncate, apex acuminate, dorsally convex, ventrally obtuse, sulcus [ventral groove] closed, open at the base into a triangular areole; gynobase ca. 1.5 mm long; style ca. 0.5 mm. long, to 0.5 mm below the nutlet apex.
      CALIFORNIA. Mariposa Co.: 3 mi. northwest of Coulterville, locally quite abundant on serpentine, May 16, 1937, R. F. Hoover 2169 (TYPE, Gray Herb.); 2 mi. northwest of Coulterville, May 9, 1938, Hoover 3394 (G). Tuolumne Co.: near Moccasin Creek near power-house, May 9, 1938, Hoover 3388 (G); 3 mi. south of Chinese Camp, May 9, 1938, Hoover 3380 (G).
      This species is a member of the Leiocarpae and is probably most closely related to C. hispidula Greene of the serpentine areas of the inner North Coast Ranges. It is the only member of its group known from the Sierran foothills. From C. hispidula it differs in its solitary or geminate spikes and more elongate calyx-lobes. The plants are smaller and more abundantly and strictly branched.

Cryptantha spithamaea
R. F. Hoover 2169, 16 May 1937, USA: California, Mariposa County, 3 miles nw. of Coulterville

Cryptantha spithamaea
R. F. Hoover 2169, 16 May 1937, USA: California, Mariposa County, 3 miles nw. of Coulterville

Cryptantha spithamaea
D.W. Taylor 16360, 22 April 1998, USA: California, Tuolumne County, Red Hills, ca. 3 air miles sw of Chinese Camp.

Cryptantha cf. spithamaea
Alison Colwell 21-015, with Bruce Ponman, 18 April 2021. Mariposa County, California.
2.9 miles NW of Coulterville on Highway 49. SE & SW sides of intersection with Penon Blanco Road, outside fences, near, but not on, roadcut. 37.736012, -120.230111 543 meters elev.
Vicinity of the type collection. Substrate is large area of serpentine gravel of the Melones Formation. A few dozen individuals scattered here and there under Ceanothus cuneatus shrubs,
otherwise very sparse vegetation, 2-3 cm tall, early flower. Corolla limb 3 mm wide, throat yellow, pollen brown, nutlets 4 at base of inflorescence, but mainly 2-3 above.
Images courtesy of Alison Colwell, April 2021
Note: This specimen unusual for this species in having 2-3-4 nutlets per fruit. Appears to be in series Flaccidae, but identity uncertain.

Cryptantha cf. spithamaea
Alison Colwell 21-026, 27 Apr 2021 (SDSU23505)
United States, California, Mariposa County, 2.9 miles northwest of Coulterville on Highway 49 at junction with Peñon Blanco Road. South of junction, outside fenceline.
37.735826 -120.222934, 545 meters (1788 ft) elevation
Habitat: Ceanothus cuneatus shrubland with scattered Pinus sabiniana. Substrate: On sparsely vegetated serpentinite gravel in partial shade of shrubs. Description: 2-4 shiny nutlets maturing per flower. These plants likely small in stature due to drought year (60% or normal precipitation in region). Notes: Clusters of individuals 2-6 cm tall, a few hundred seen on both sides of the highway above the roadcut. Voucher for California Plant Rescue seed collection. ID Remarks: 3-4 nutlets per fruit; nutlets smooth, shiny, 1.5-1.7 mm long; style 7/8 nutlet length.

Cryptantha spithamaea
Alison Colwell 21-031, with Bruce Ponman, 24 May 2021 (SDSU23506). United States, California, Tuolumne County.
Red Hills Recreation Management Area. South Loop Trailhead on Red Hills Road.
37.838837, -120.469618, 360 meters elevation
Note: One nutlet per frui.

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