winged pigweed

(Dysphania atriplicifolia)

Conservation Status
winged pigweed
  IUCN Red List

not listed


N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed

Wetland Indicator Status
  Great Plains

FACU - Facultative upland


FACU - Facultative upland

  Northcentral & Northeast

FACU - Facultative upland


Winged pigweed is a 4 to 32 tall, densely branched, rounded, annual tumbleweed rising from a big taproot.

The stems are up to 2 long, spreading, and much branched. They are covered with soft, short or long, woolly hairs when young, but become hairless at maturity. All of the terminal branches end in flower spikes.

The leaves are alternate, up to 3 long and ¾ wide at the base of the stem, getting progressively smaller as they ascend the stem. They are lance shaped, with large, irregular, coarse, wavy but sharp teeth. They are pointed at the tip and taper to the base. They are attached to the stem on short leaf stalks or on no stalk at all. They may be hairy or hairless. They are pale green when young but turn dark purple as the plant matures and soon fall off.

The inflorescence is a branched, interrupted, flowering spike at the end of every stem and branch. The branches of the inflorescence spread widely and loosely. The spikes have minute bracts scattered unevenly along their lengths, and from the axils of the bracts a single or a few flowers rise.

The flowers are minute, or slightly more wide, greenish, and are attached to the spike without flower stalks. They have no petals. The 5 sepals are fused together from the base and urn-shaped to more than half their length, pointed at their tips. They are green and covered with soft, woolly hairs, but soon become hairless and turn reddish.

The fruit is small, a little more than wide, round, thin walled, one-seeded, and bladder–like. It has a distinctive, thin, flat, circular, nearly transparent membrane (wing) extending a little more than from the margin. It is this wing that gives the plant its common name and makes it easy to identify.

As the plant matures the leaves fall away. The branches harden, their tips bend inward, and they become brittle. The stems soon separate from the roots close to the ground. At this point the plant is a tumbleweed. It spreads its seeds as it is blown in the wind.




4 to 32


Flower Color


Green, turning reddish


Similar Species


The circular, winged fruit are diagnostic.


Dry. Prairies, fields, roadsides, disturbed sites. Full or partial sun. Sandy soil.




July to August


Pests and Diseases






Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 28, 29, 30.









  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Caryophyllanae  


Caryophyllales (pinks, cactuses, and allies)  


Amaranthaceae (amaranths)  
  Subfamily Chenopodioideae (saltbush)  
  Tribe Dysphanieae  


  Section Adenois  

Winged pigweed was formerly classified as Cycloloma atriplicifolium. The genus Cycloma had been erected to contain just this one species. A recent molecular phylogenetic study of the families Chenopodioideae and Amaranthaceae (Utolia, et al., 2021) showed the Cycloma was nested within Dysphania. The move has been widely but not universally accepted.


Subordinate Taxa






Cyclolepis platyphylla

Cycloloma atriplicifolium

Cycloloma platyphylla

Kochia atriplicifolia

Salsola atriplicifolia

Salsola platyphylla


Common Names


tumble ringwing



winged pigweed














The upper angle where the leaf stalk meets the stem.



Modified leaf at the base of a flower stalk, flower cluster, or inflorescence.



A thin, flat membranous, usually transparent, appendage on the margin of a structure.

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Created 12/26/2011

Last Updated:

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