Southeast California and far south Nevada
Between 1 and 6 inches; grows mostly sideways rather than upwards
Washes, sandy areas, rocky hillsides, up to 5,000 feet
Oblanceolate to linear, up to 1.5 inches long, spine-tipped
Desert calico, loeseliastrum matthewsii, is a low-growing, spiky species of the Mojave Desert, found in sandy or gravelly areas. Although small, plants are quite noticeable because of the branched, bright red stems, the dense tufts of long white hairs beneath the flower cluster and the unusual flowers; these are bilaterally symmetric, with three upper lobes that are mostly light pink, but white towards the base and with a pattern of dark purple dots around the middle. The two lower lobes are more even in color, but may still have a fainter dot pattern.
Flowers are about half an inch across and half an inch long; the tubular corolla is white on the outside, and supported by a ring of hairy green bracts, which are reddish at the apex, and topped by a light-colored spine. Petal tips are flattish, and notched. The five stamens have different lengths, and all project beyond the corolla.