CPC Plant Profile: Dune Unicorn-plant
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Plant Profile

Dune Unicorn-plant (Proboscidea sabulosa)

The leaves of this annual are hairy and heart-shaped, while the flowers are tubes of reddish corollas with pale splotches. Photo Credit: Kathy Rice
Description
  • Global Rank: G3 - Vulnerable
  • Legal Status: N/A
  • Family: Martyniaceae
  • State: NM, TX
  • Nature Serve ID: 141702
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 02/25/1988

Proboscidea sabulosa is an annual, hairy- and sticky-leaved herb with rounded leaves. Plants are about 0.4 m across and high, with rounded dark green leaves that are very glandular and somewhat pungent. The creamy white, purple spotted flowers grow in clusters under leaves. The woody fruits are large and distinctive, forming two long curved horns at maturity. The large seeds, approximately 1 cm long, are corky. Native Americans used the fruits in basket-making, and pickled the young fruits.

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Updates
  • 10/08/2020
  • Orthodox Seed Banking

Proboscidea is an interesting genus in cultivation. It is reputedly difficult to germinate from seed, and indeed, recent frozen storage tests at Desert Botanical Garden have had disappointing results. However, Proboscidea althaeafolia is being grown in a display garden on the ethnobotanical trail at the Garden with relatively little effort. Seeds are sown directly into the soil with no pre-treatment, and found to germinate readily.

  • 10/08/2020
  • Living Collection

Proboscidea is an interesting genus in cultivation. It is reputedly difficult to germinate from seed, and indeed, recent frozen storage tests at Desert Botanical Garden have had disappointing results. However, Proboscidea althaeafolia is being grown in a display garden on the ethnobotanical trail at the Garden with relatively little effort. Seeds are sown directly into the soil with no pre-treatment, and found to germinate readily.

  • 10/08/2020
  • Seed Collection

Proboscidea is an interesting genus in cultivation. It is reputedly difficult to germinate from seed, and indeed, recent frozen storage tests at Desert Botanical Garden have had disappointing results. However, Proboscidea althaeafolia is being grown in a display garden on the ethnobotanical trail at the Garden with relatively little effort. Seeds are sown directly into the soil with no pre-treatment, and found to germinate readily.

  • 10/08/2020
  • Propagation Research

Proboscidea is an interesting genus in cultivation. It is reputedly difficult to germinate from seed, and indeed, recent frozen storage tests at Desert Botanical Garden have had disappointing results. However, Proboscidea althaeafolia is being grown in a display garden on the ethnobotanical trail at the Garden with relatively little effort. Seeds are sown directly into the soil with no pre-treatment, and found to germinate readily.

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

In 1990, Proboscidea sabulosa was known from 15 occurrences in New Mexico and about 8 in Texas (Sivinski & Cully, 1990). Thorough inventory via access to private property in west Texas during an appropriately wet season might reveal additional locations and provide reasoning for re-ranking to G4.

Kathleen C. Rice
  • 01/01/2010

Loss of habitat.

Kathleen C. Rice
  • 01/01/2010

Two populations are reported in west Texas (Sivinski and Cully 1990).

Kathleen C. Rice
  • 01/01/2010

Proboscidea is an interesting genus in cultivation. It is reputedly difficult to germinate from seed, and indeed, recent frozen storage tests at Desert Botanical Garden have had disappointing results. However, Proboscidea althaeafolia is being grown in a display garden on the ethnobotanical trail at the Garden with relatively little effort. Seeds are sown directly into the soil with no pre-treatment, and found to germinate readily.

Kathleen C. Rice
  • 01/01/2010

There is no formal management plan.

Kathleen C. Rice
  • 01/01/2010

Needs include population monitoring and understanding aspects of reproductive biology and ecology.

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Photos
Nomenclature
Taxon Proboscidea sabulosa
Authority Correll
Family Martyniaceae
CPC Number 3640
ITIS 504616
USDA PRSA2
Common Names dune Devil's claw | dune unicorn-plant | sanddune unicorn-plant | dune unicorn plant
Associated Scientific Names Proboscidea sabulosa
Distribution Found in five counties in New Mexico, adjacent Texas, and Mexico, in the Chihuahaun desert. (New Mexico Rare Plant Technical Council 1999)
State Rank
State State Rank
New Mexico S3
Texas S2
Habitat

P. sabulosa grows in deep sands of semi-stabilized dunes in the desert scrub and arid grasslands of the Chihuahuan desert. Found at elevations of 900 to 1,400 meters (3,000 to 4,600 feet). (New Mexico Rare Plant Technical Council 1999)

Ecological Relationships

As stated by the New Mexico Rare Plant Technical Council (1999): A widely scattered, regional endemic annual plant. Can become locally abundant during wet years. Dry fruits are dispersed by attaching to the feet of local animals. Not palatable to grazing wildlife or cattle.

Pollinators
Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Reintroduction
Lead Institution State Reintroduction Type Year of First Outplanting

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