Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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

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

Does goldenball leadtree (Leucaena retusa) have thorns?
July 26, 2010 - I have a plant that I am told is a native Texas plant, but the person I got it from could not remember its name. They said it was very hardy and drought tolerant. It looks a little like goldenball lea...
view the full question and answer

Identity of tree with pumpkin-like fruit in Florida
October 02, 2012 - Hello. I live in a small town called Molino FL. I was walking on the side of our road and found a tree with pumpkin type fruit on the limbs. I have been trying to figure this tree out for about 3 mont...
view the full question and answer

Plant ID from Cocoa FL
April 18, 2014 - I am trying to identify a plant that looks like a rose bush. It has rose-like thorns. The leaves are green, slender, acute at the tip, slightly unequal at the base and the leaf stem grows closer to ...
view the full question and answer

Is there a red esperanza (Tecoma stans)?
October 06, 2011 - There is a red esperanza that I pass by everyday on my way home from work. I have never seen this plant anywhere but this particular spot. Is there really a variety that is red or do you think it is...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on milkweed
August 20, 2005 - I am looking for a photo of the local milkweed in the state of North Carolina. The name would be a help also. I am raising butterflies and I am in dire need of plants.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.