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 of Indian Cane
June 18, 2011 - I live in southern Alabama. We have a plant that is wild but I can not find any info on it. My grandmother called it Indian Cane. The stems are red and you can chew them, they have a sour taste
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
August 13, 2008 - Can you identify a shrub in my backyard? It has odd looking seed pods with three chambers and hard black seeds inside roughly 1/8" in diameter. The pods themselves are brown, hard shell, and hang d...
view the full question and answer

Seed pod of Proboscidea louisianica (Deveil's claw) in New Mexico
August 30, 2014 - I found the most amazing seed pods of the devil's claw right here in Albuquerque. I thought it was a wood skeleton of a pterodactyl (flying dinosaur, I believe), but heard it's a devil's claw. Ok...
view the full question and answer

Question about dwarf oyster plant, Tradescantia spathacea
June 12, 2009 - I sm looking for Dwarf Oyster plant like the one described about 3-4 inches in height, color green and purple. But the nurseries here in Clearwater FL don't seem to know what I am talking about. S...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification of vine in Virginia
September 01, 2011 - Have vine that has small 3 pointed leaves somewhat like a grape but only an inch or 2 long. Adult fruit is black or purple egg shaped and only 3/4 of an inch long. Fruit is single in the middle of th...
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