[Lesquerella engelmannii subsp. ovalifolia (Rydb. ex Britton) C. Clark, moreLesquerella ovalifolia Rydb. ex Britt., Lesquerella ovalifolia subsp. ovalifolia Rydb. ex Britton, Lesquerella ovalifolia var. ovalifolia]
Duration: Perennial Nativity: Native Lifeform: Forb/Herb General: Perennial herb, 5-25 cm tall, from a simple or branched caudex, which is sometimes thickened by persistent leaf bases; stems few to several from base, erect, the outer stems often decumbent; herbage densely pubescent with stellate hairs. Leaves: Basal leaves petiolate, with round to elliptic blades, usually about 2 cm long, the margins entire to shallowly toothed; stem leaves alternate, sessile or shortly petiolate, narrowly elliptic, 1-3 cm long, with entire margins. Flowers: Yellow or white, in compact, sometimes flat-topped, terminal racemes; pedicels erect to ascending in flower and erect to horizonatal when in fruit; sepals 4, elliptic, 4-8 mm long; petals 4 in a cross formation, round to oval or even triangular, 6-15 mm long, usually yellow but sometimes white. Fruits: Capsules subglobose to broadly ellipsoid, 4-9 mm long, inflated or slightly compressed, glabrous, topped with a persistent style 4-9 mm long; seeds flattened. Ecology: Found on bare limestone flats, rocky knolls and slopes, limestone chip, gypseous outcrops, rock crevices, and exposed caprock, from 1,500-5,500 ft (457-1676 m); flowers March-May. Distribution: CO, NM, TX, OK, KS, NE Notes: Physaria species (until recently classified as Lesquerella) have gray-green leaves, often with stellate hairs; white or yellow 4-petaled flowers; and round, globe-shaped fruits with a persistent style attached to the tip. P. ovalifolia is distinguished by its cluster of long-petioled oval-shaped leaves at the base; and few long, leafy, unbranched stems topped with dense clusters of yellow or white flowers. Look for it in rocky, limestone or gypsum habitats in low to middle elevations. Ours are subsp. ovalifolia, which have branching, well-developed, thickened bases (caudices); yellow petals (very rarely white) 6-14 mm long, which are about 1.5 times as long as the sepals; and flowers in congested, flat-topped racemes. Subsp. alba is restricted to Oklahoma and Kansas; it has unbranched caudices, white flowers, petals twice as long as the sepals, and elongate racemes. Physaria spp. can be challenging to properly identify in the field; try to make a good collection so you can key it out using a dissecting scope. Ethnobotany: Unknown Editor: AHazelton 2017 Etymology: Physaria comes from the Greek phusa or physa, "bellows" because of the inflated pod; ovalifolia means oval-shaped leaf.