CPC Plant Profile: Pygmy Pussy-paws
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Plant Profile

Pygmy Pussy-paws (Cistanthe pygmaea)

Photo Credit: ©2012 Michael Charters
  • Global Rank: G1 - Critically Imperiled
  • Legal Status: N/A
  • Family: Montiaceae
  • State: CA
  • Nature Serve ID: 128135
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 09/18/2021

Calyptridium pygmaeum, also called the Pygmy Pussy-paws, is a fleshy, annual herb with less than 10 occurrences in the wild to date. As its common name suggests, they grow no taller than 8cm. There is no up-to-date field data available for this species but past work shows that it’s historically been found in elevations between 2000-3500m in the southern parts of Sierra Nevada and the San Bernardino Mountains. In these mountain ranges, they can found growing in lodgepole and subalpine forests under dry weather conditions. C. pygmaeum is an overall fleshy plant: fleshy stem and fleshy leaves. From June through August, they produce a simple, white flower with 4 fleshy petals.    

Participating Institutions
  • 09/01/2020
  • Orthodox Seed Banking

Based on an September 2020 extract of the California Plant Rescue Database, California Botanic Garden holds 1 accessions of Calyptridium pygmaeum in orthodox seed collection. There are as many as 3150 seeds of this species in their collection - although some may have been used for curation testing or sent to back up.

  • 08/05/2020
  • Seed Collection

Based on an August 2020 extract of the California Plant Rescue Database, California Botanic Garden has collected 1 seed accessions of Calyptridium pygmaeum from 1 plant occurrences listed in the California Natural Diversity Database. These collections together emcompass 10 maternal plants

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Taxon Cistanthe pygmaea
Authority (Parish ex Rydb.) Hershk.
Family Montiaceae
CPC Number 8931
ITIS 501564
Common Names Pygmy Pussy-paws | pygmy pussypaws
Associated Scientific Names Cistanthe pygmaea | Calyptridium pygmaeum
Distribution Their historical occurrences in the Sierra Nevada span across Fresno, Tulare, and Inyo Counties as well as San Bernardino County's San Bernardino Mountains. The most recent reports of this species was back in 2009 so since then, its occurrences have no been updated. The last reports of C. pygmaeum identified Inyo County as the most likely spot to find C. pygmaeum.
State Rank
State State Rank
California S2

Calyptridium pygmaeum is a montane herb that survives at elevations between 2000-3500m and does best in dry weather conditions. The kind of forests at these elevations, that C. pygmaeum prefers are lodgepole and sub-alpine forests.

Ecological Relationships

Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID

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