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?


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
3 ratings

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.


More Plant Identification Questions

Key for Verbesina virginica
June 16, 2014 - Are the stems of Verbesina virginica hairy? My in-laws have what I believe is Verbesina virginica (blooms in September here in VA) and another wild flower that blooms before it and is yellow. I'd l...
view the full question and answer

Plant ID in Arkansas
October 29, 2014 - Harrison, Ark I borrowed pix, hope they can be seen. Fast growing, 5' popped up in area- it screams abutilon to me, but the flower doesnt. Waited til Sept to bloom. Nowhere for pic. Green/ yellow tub...
view the full question and answer

Identification of vining shrub near Fort Worth
August 07, 2015 - Please let me know what this plant might be. Saw it one county west of Ft. Worth, in a wooded area, and I've never seen this in this region before. The form is a vining shrub. Leaves are heart-sh...
view the full question and answer

Identification of shrub in South Carolina
December 12, 2011 - First, I'm in Iraq but trying to write a book and have a question on a plant that grows in South Carolina. All I can do is describe it. The bush is normally green but turns red, has large leaves, kin...
view the full question and answer

Plant identfication
August 16, 2009 - We live in a forested area in Rockmart,GA. There is a creek in the woods and a lily type plant that only flowers occasionally. It is white in the center and has thin white spires that jut out from t...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center