En Español

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - July 26, 2011

From: Colorado Springs, CO
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Plant Identification, Shrubs
Title: Name for paloverde look-alike near Colorado Springs
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

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 to 5b. This may be its northern limit though. Colorado Springs is where I have seen this plant. I have only seen two of them. The appear similar to the Palo Verde of Arizona in branch and leaf habit, in that they have no leaves as seen from a distance and they have green branches.

ANSWER:

None of the paloverdes (Parkinsonia aculeata (Retama), Parkinsonia florida (Blue paloverde), Parkinsonia microphylla (Yellow paloverde), or Parkinsonia texana var. macra (Texas paloverde) grow naturally in Colorado.   The nearest to Colorado is P. aculeata in southwestern Utah and southern New Mexico so it probably isn't one of them.  They probably wouldn't survive in zone 5b or 6.

Here are some possibilities, however, that might be the plant you describe:

Ephedra torreyana (Torrey joint-fir) or, perhaps, the closely related Ephedra viridis (Mormon tea) and Ephedra cutleri (Cutler's jointfir).  Here are more photos and information.  Also, Ephedra nevadensis occurs in eastern Utah.

 Koeberlinia spinosa (Crown of thorns), however, the USDA Plants Database map does not show it occurring in Colorado.

Pleiacanthus spinosus (thorn skeletonweed)  does not occur in Colorado (according to the USDA Plants Database) but does occur in adjacent Utah and here are more photos and information.

 Stephanomeria pauciflora (Brownplume wirelettuce) and here are more photos and information.

If none of the above is the plant you have seen, please visit our Plant Identification page where you will find links to several plant identification forums.  If you have a photo, you can submit it to one of them for identification.

 

From the Image Gallery


Torrey joint-fir
Ephedra torreyana

Mormon tea
Ephedra viridis

Crown of thorns
Koeberlinia spinosa

Brownplume wirelettuce
Stephanomeria pauciflora

More Plant Identification Questions

Instructions on posting photos of plant for ID
February 29, 2008 - I need help identifying an adopted tree. How do I post the picture so I can show you? It's a odd one I've never seen.
view the full question and answer

Mystery dill-type weed
September 01, 2008 - My daughter has a weed growing in her flower bed that look very simular to dill weed, but thicker. If you pinch it, it has a sticky milky substance come out. Can you tell me what this plant may be? ...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification from Alpharetta GA
September 28, 2009 - I found a thorny bush in a yard. It had either immature fruit or a seed pod that I would like identified. The pod was a little larger than a golf ball, yellow, and a little fuzzy. When cut open it ...
view the full question and answer

Identification of night-blooming yellow flower
June 03, 2010 - My Nonna used to have a plant that was a night bloomer. It had leaves that looked like a dandelion, and bloomed a bright yellow flower at dusk. I have never seen anything like it although they were pl...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on Plant Identification
April 25, 2005 - We bought our house last October and there were beautiful pink flowers blooming along our sidewalk. They bloomed until past Thanksgiving. They resembled Azaleas but we don't know what they were. Th...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center