Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Forestiera pubescens

Elbow bush, Stretchberry, Spring herald

Oleaceae (Olive Family)

Forestiera pubescens (Elbow bush)
Marcus, Joseph A.
Shrub with opposite, or nearly opposite, twigs, sometimes on long, arched branches. Common in open woodlands, brushy areas, and near streams. Leaves opposite, with a short petiole; blades up to 1 1/4 inches long, broadly ovate to narrower, with a rounded or pointed tip, tapering or rounded at the base, and with fine toothed margins. Flowers not showy, yellow, without petals, borne in small clusters on bare twigs in February and March, male and female on separate bushes. Fruit (on female bushes) fleshy, dark blue, with a lighter bloom easily rubbed off, 1/4 inch in diameter and slightly longer than wide.

Image Gallery:

38 photo(s) available

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Opposite
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Breeding System: Dioecious
Size Notes: 5-10 feet
Autumn Foliage: yes
Size Class: 6-12 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow , Green
Bloom Time: Jan , Feb , Mar


USA: AZ , CA , CO , NV , NM , OK , TX , UT
Native Distribution: California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, and Oklahoma south through Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas to Chihuahua

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low , Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist , Dry
Drought Tolerance: Medium , High
Conditions Comments: Locally known as elbow-bush, so named because it typically branches at right angles. Early flowering period provides nectar for early spring butterflies, particularly small butterflies such as hairstreaks. Foliage turns chartreuse yellow in fall.


Attracts: Birds , Butterflies
Larval Host: Hairstreaks
Nectar Source: yes

Last Update: 2016-01-31