Desert Baileya

Baileya multiradiata

Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)


An annual or weak perennial herb of the sunflower family, desert baileya grows to 1 to 1.5 feet tall. Leaves are arranged alternately along the stem and covered with woolly hairs. The showy yellow flowers rise on long stalks from a leafy base. Desert baileya blooms from spring through late fall.


Desert baileya is generally confined to desert regions from Texas to southern California and south into Mexico. Most often found on sandy/gravelly soils and dry plains and mesas up to 5,000 feet in elevation, the plant is also common on disturbed areas.

Toxic Agent

The toxic agent is an unknown water-soluble compound. All parts of a green or dried plant are poisonous; flowers and seed heads are more toxic than leaves. Sheep, goats and rabbits have been poisoned experimentally by desert baileya, although under range conditions only sheep are poisoned. Feeding trials suggest that 16 to 65 pounds of dry or green desert baileya are lethal to an adult sheep. Although sheep eat baileya more readily when range feed is scarce, they have grazed it extensively when ample green grass was available. They appear to relish the flowers and seed heads.

Signs of Livestock Ingestion

The first sign of poisoning in sheep is a frothy green salivation, followed by extreme weakness, a rapid heartbeat and trembling limbs. Under range conditions, poisoned animals may trail the flock with a stiff gait and show marked weakness. Other signs include: Rapid, pounding heart rate, audible without a stethoscope; Trembling and loss of appetite; Standing with back arched; Lying down, unresponsive.