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Abronia umbellata Lam.

Pink sand verbena

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassCaryophyllidaeCacti, many other succulents, carnivorous plants, and leadworts
OrderCaryophyllalesIncludes cacti, carnations, amaranths, ice plants, and many carnivorous plants
FamilyNyctaginaceaePlants with unique fruits (“anthocarps”) and large pollen grains
GenusAbroniaSand-verbenas or wild lantanas
SpeciesumbellataMeans umbel-shaped flowerheads

About plant names...

Like its cousin yellow sand verbena, pink sand verbena grows in loose beach sand and dunes, along the west coast of North America, between southern CA and Vancouver Island in British Columbia. It is native to this region. The neat round "flowers" are really bracts (modified leaves)—the plant does not have petals. These plants are less than 6″ (15 cm) in height. Pink sand verbena is the first Californian flower described by science, back in 1786.


Abronia umbellata (pink sand verbena)

2/26/2010 · Torrey Pines State Park, La Jolla, Cali­fornia · ≈ 1½ × 1′ (54 × 36 cm)

Abronia umbellata (pink sand verbena)

2/26/2010 · Torrey Pines State Park, La Jolla, Cali­fornia · ≈ 10 × 7″ (26 × 17 cm)

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Abronia umbellata

Abronia villosa
Common Name

pink sand verbena

desert sand verbena
Plant Less than 6″ (15 cm) high, spreading in mats. Less than 6″ (15 cm), in mats up to about 1½′ (50 cm) wide.


Pink to purple, with white centers.


Magenta, purple to pink. Sweet-smelling. Centers are not white.
Leaves Thick, succulent, oval or diamond-shaped. Dull gray-green, oval-shaped.
Stem Often hairy. Very hairy, sticky.
Range/ Zones

Type Wild Wild


Identification: The small ball-shaped flowerheads are typical of verbenas. These salt-tolerant plants are common on beaches in their range. While yellow sand verbena is found within about 200′ (60 m) of the ocean, pink sand verbena occurs further inland as well. This species looks similar to desert sand verbena (see above), but it is not found in true desert regions. An endangered variety, Abronia umbellata ssp. breviflora, also looks similar.

Online References:



The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Turner Photographics' Wildflowers site



Abronia umbellata description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 4 Dec 2020.

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