Chaenactis fremontii is known as Fremont's pincushion and desert pincushion. Both the common name, and the specific epithet are chosen in honor of John C. Frémont.
It is native to the Southwestern United States and northern Baja California. It grows in sandy and gravelly soils in the deserts and low mountains, such as the Mojave Desert in California and the Sonoran Desert habitats. It is found in California, Baja California, Arizona, Nevada, and southern Utah.
C. fremontii grows in patches of long stems which are green when new and grow reddish with age. They may branch to extend many tall, almost naked stems. The sparse leaves are somewhat fleshy and long and pointed. Atop each erect stem is an inflorescence bearing usually one but sometimes more flower heads, each with plentiful densely packed disc florets. There may be very large ray florets around the edge of the discoid head. The flowers are white or very light pink.