Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Identification of bluebonnet-like flower
May 14, 2012 - I have discovered a plant that looks like a bluebonnet but is much larger. It has leggy stems and similar leaf structure and the bonnet in more compact with purple vs blue flowers. The plant is growin...
view the full question and answer

Identifcation of four o clock-like flower
August 25, 2007 - I've run across a flower I cannot find any information on. I saw it in West Virginia. I know that a pix might be needed to identify, but, since this is somewhat unusual, I thought possibly you might...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification in Keller TX
March 18, 2009 - I'm trying to i.d. a wildflower found in Keller, Tx. It is about 8 in. tall, single upright stem with narrow, slender leaves up the stem, several red blooms at top of stem about 1 inch wide, 5 petals...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
October 09, 2008 - I have a random flower growing out of my rabbit's grave and I can not identify it. Nothing like it grows around us and I didn't plant anything there. The petals are white. There are five of them. Th...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification of ethereal plant in Colorado
August 28, 2010 - We live in the south central mountains of Colorado in the upper Arkansas River valley near Salida, Colorado. During the past few weeks we have noticed a very mystic looking plant (flower/grass?) alon...
view the full question and answer

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