Monolepis nuttalliana (Nuttall's Povertyweed)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Amaranthaceae (Amaranth)
Life cycle:annual
Habitat:part shade, sun; moist to dry alkaline soil; roadsides, fields, floodplains, wetlands, pond margins
Bloom season:May - July
Plant height:4 to 20 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FAC MW: UPL NCNE: UPL
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: indistinct Cluster type: spike Cluster type: whorled

[photo of flower clusters] One to numerous tiny flowers are tightly packed in round clusters (glomerules) in leaf axils along most of the stem. Flowers are either pistillate (female) or perfect (both male and female parts). Both lack petals, have a round, green ovary with a 2-parted style at the tip; perfect flowers usually have a single stamen, sometimes two.

[close-up of glomerule] Cupping the flower is a green calyx with a single lobe that is green, leaf-like, and twice or more as long as the flower. The calyx and stalks may be sparsely white-mealy when young, becoming smooth.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: lobed Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are alternate, ½ to 2½ inches long, up to about ½ inch wide, triangular to arrowhead-shaped in outline, the lower leaves with a pair of lobes near the base, sometimes with 1 or 2 additional smaller lobes or large teeth, and the upper leaves mostly lance-elliptic, unlobed and reduced to bracts. Surfaces are sparsely white-mealy when young, becoming smooth with age. Lower leaves usually have the longest stalks, becoming short stalked to stalkless on the upper stem. Stems are multiple and branched from the base, green to reddish, finely ribbed, ascending to spreading, sometimes  prostrate but rising near the tip (decumbent).

Fruit: Fruit type: seed_without_plume

[photo of developing fruit] Fruit is a dry seed enclosed in the persistent ovary shell (pericarp) that matures from green to gray-brown. Seeds are flattened oval, 1 to 2 mm long, lightly pitted on the surface.


Nuttall's Povertyweed, sometimes known as Blitum nuttalianum, is fairly common in the western half of North America from Mexico to Alaska, and reaches the eastern fringe of its US range in Minnesota, though it's only been recorded here twice and not since 1944. Farther east it is considered introduced, showing up along roadsides, farm fields, and other disturbed areas; in its native range it is often found in alkaline, clay soils. It is similar to some of the related Chenopodium species, which have 5 calyx lobes of more or less equal size, where Monolepis has only one lobe that is rather leaf-like and may be taken for a bract. If you happen to spot this species in Minnesota, congratulations—you'll have moved this species off the Historical list!

Please visit our sponsors

  • Minnesota Goose Garden

Native Plant Nurseries, Restoration and Landscaping Services ↓

Map of native plant resources in the upper midwest

  • Shop for native seeds and plants at!
  • Shooting Star Native Seeds - Native Prairie Grass and Wildflower Seeds
  • Morning Sky Greenery - Native Prairie Plants
  • Natural Shore Technologies - Using science to improve land and water
  • Minnesota Native Landscapes - Your Ecological Problem Solvers

More photos

Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken in North Dakota.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Bob Held - Hutchinson
on: 2019-06-01 21:33:12

Not sure I've got this one right, but Hutchinson is in Meeker County, close to Renville County, where this plant has been recorded; the pictures look right to me; the site was gravelly and dry, and the sighting was on May 31. I've also checked a few other sites that came up on google and a lot of pictures match what I've go. I'd be delighted to email pictures to you. If I'm wrong on this and you know what my pictures are, I'd appreciate you telling me, Bob

Post a comment

Note: All comments are moderated before posting to keep the riff-raff out. An email address is required, but will not be posted—it will only be used for information exchange between the 2 of us (if needed) and will never be given to a 3rd party without your express permission.

For info on subjects other than plant identification (gardening, invasive species control, edible plants, etc.), please check the links and invasive species pages for additional resources.


Note: Comments or information about plants outside of Minnesota and neighboring states may not be posted because Id like to keep the focus of this web site centered on Minnesota. Thanks for your understanding.