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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.

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Wednesday - November 20, 2013

From: Helena, MT
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Plant identification in Mojave Desert
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I need help in identifying a shrub like plant that I found in SW Utah near Beaver Dam, UT (Which is near the Arizona/Nevada border). It is approximately 12 inches in height with profuse stems originating from a crown. The branches lack leaves and rarely branch, remaining straight the entire length and are light yellow/green in color. The flowers are vase shaped, about an 1/8th of an inch long, turned upwards in a raceme. They look like Grape Hyacinths, but pointing upward along the stem. There appears to be three to four stamens that do not protrude from the flower. They were blooming in the northern most part of the Mojave in January through March. Any help you can give is greatly appreciated. Thank you.


My best guess is Thamnosma montana (Desert rue).  Here are photos and more information from USDA Plants Database, Mojave National Preserve, Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association and University of California-Berkeley's CalPhotos.

If this isn't it, here are a couple of other possibilities:

Salazaria mexicana (Bladder sage)  Here are more photos and information from Southwest Environmental Information Network and Northern Arizona Flora.

Streptanthella longirostris (Longbeak streptanthella)  Here are photos and more information from Southwest Colorado Wildflowers and CalPhotos.

Here are links to Mojave Desert Wildflowers Wildflower List, Desert Wildflower from Desert USA and Southwest Colorado Wildflowers arranged by flower color that you can search.

In case none of these is your plant and if you have a photo or photos, please visit our Plant Identification page to find links to several plant identification forums that will accept photos of plants for identification.


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