San Diego Natural History Museum--Your Nature ConnectionSDNHM Field Guide
Cryptantha utahensis
Scented Cryptantha (Forget-me-not)


General Distribution

Arid portions of southeastern California in the Great Basin, Mohave, and Sonoran desert regions from Inyo County south to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, and north to southwestern Utah and northern Arizona. This species usually occurs in Desert Scrub dominated by Creosote Bush and in Pinyon/Juniper Woodlands at elevations less than 2000 m.

County Distribution

This species has been collected twice in San Diego County. Both collections are from the southern part of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park near Dos Cabezas at an elevation of 550-600 m.

Plant Description

Annual herbaceous plant to 0.3 m tall; stems usually ascending and strigose, leaves mostly linear; flowers white with bright yellow throat appendages, arranged in a scorpioid cyme typical of many genera in the Boraginaceae; fruits are composed of 1 (-2) nutlets with sharp-angled margins and a back that is granulate to papillate; prefers sandy or gravelly substrates in desert areas.

Comments and Importance of Discovery

This is a native plant species for California and this discovery extends the range to its southernmost distribution in the state. There are 21 species (22 taxa) in the genus Cryptantha known to occur in San Diego County. A related genus Plagiobothrys (commonly called popcornflower) is difficult for many people to distinguish from Cryptantha, and it has 12 more species (15 taxa) in our County. Thus, we have an extremely large diversity of small, white flowered cyptanthas/popcornflowers in our area that are rather difficult to separate taxonomically. More populations of the Scented Cryptantha should be looked for in San Diego County especially in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park north of the Dos Cabezas region.

The cyme of Cryptantha utahensis is typical of the Boraginaceae.
The cyme of Cryptantha utahensis is typical of the Boraginaceae.
The complete Cryptantha utahensis herbarium specimen.
The complete herbarium specimen.

Text by Jon Rebman, Ph.D.

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