En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - March 02, 2011

From: Van Nuys, CA
Region: California
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Identification of spiny plant in Yucca Mesa, CA
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have a very prickly bush on my property near Yucca Mesa, CA, (high desert). 2 to 3 feet high. Branches mostly starting from the center near ground. Lots of 1 to 2 inch spines on branches. Dormant in winter, and very dry and white looking. Just now producing small grayish leaves near each spine. Bundles of flowers at the end of each branch starting to emerge, yellow I think. Elevation is 3000+ feet, and sandy soil. Wish I could attach a photo. What could it be? I can't find it in any books or on-line sites. Grateful for help.

ANSWER:

This sounds to me like Atriplex confertifolia (Shadscale).  Other common names for it are spiny saltbush and hop sage.  If you click on California on the map on the USDA Plants Database, you will see it does occur in San Bernadino County.

Here is more information and photos from Utah State University, Southwest Colorado Wildflowers and photos from University of California-Berkeley CalPhotos database. 

Mr. Smarty Plants would be very interested to know if this is your plant.  If not, let me know and I'll suggest some other possibilities for identifying it. 

Here are some photos from our Image Gallery:


Atriplex confertifolia


Atriplex confertifolia


Atriplex confertifolia


Atriplex confertifolia

 


 

More Plant Identification Questions

Plant Identification
November 09, 2008 - I recently found a GIANT green seed pod around my small town in Northern Virginia. It's about 1 ft. 3 in. in diameter (15 in.) and its making me very curious as to what exactly it is. For the life of...
view the full question and answer

Name for paloverde look-alike near Colorado Springs
July 26, 2011 - I don't know where this plant comes from. However, I am wondering what the name of plant of the following description would be. It is a shrub, about 2 to 3 feet tall and wide. It grows in zone 6 t...
view the full question and answer

Mystery Iris-like plant in Tennessee
September 02, 2008 - What is this flower? It came up and bloomed for about five days then died. It was a beautiful white trumpet shaped flower. It had one stem with four flowers. It came up like an Iris but we nver plante...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification, possibly Actaea rubra, red baneberry
August 06, 2008 - I came across a plant that has leaves similar to the astillbe shrub, stands about 3 feet high, and instead of a flower spire, has a chunk of bright red berries the size of medium-sized pearls atop its...
view the full question and answer

Plant similar to painted buckeye in Stewart Co., GA
February 26, 2011 - My neighbor said that she saw a plant in Providence Canyon in Stewart Co, GA that was similar to the painted buckeye, but bloomed later in the summer. Do you know of this plant?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center