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Psorothamnus spinosus (Smoketree)
Wasowski, Sally and Andy

Psorothamnus spinosus

Psorothamnus spinosus (A. Gray) Barneby

Smoketree, Smokethorn, Smoke Tree, Indigobush, Smokethorn Dalea, Corona De Cristo

Fabaceae (Pea Family)

Synonym(s): Dalea spinosa

USDA Symbol: PSSP3

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Smokethorn or smoke tree is a spiny, intricately branched, nearly leafless shrub or small tree with an overall gray appearance except when covered with a profusion of violet or indigo-blue flower spikes. The leaves of this 10-20 ft. plant fall early in the season. Spiny, much-branched shrub or small tree with short, crooked trunk, compact or irregular crown of smoky-gray branches, and small leaves; leafless most of the year.

The common names describe the hazy appearance of the leafless plants when seen from a distance. The smoky-gray twigs produce most of the food, by photosynthesis, since the plants have leaves for only a few weeks each year. Showy when covered with flowers, Smoke Tree is sometimes grown as an ornamental in frost-free regions.


From the Image Gallery

3 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Fruit Type: Legume
Size Notes: Up to about 20 feet tall.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Blue , Purple
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul


Native Distribution: AZ & s. CA, s. to adjacent Mex.
Native Habitat: Desert washes below 1500 ft.

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Description: Sandy soils.

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees
Special Value to Bumble Bees

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.


Seed Collection: Collect the pods when they are beginning to dry. Separate seeds from pods before sowing or storage. Fumigate seeds before storage.
Seed Treatment: Seeds require no pretreatment for germination, but scarification may be helpful.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR


Bibref 995 - Native Landscaping from El Paso to L.A. (2000) Wasowski, S. and A. Wasowski

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

USDA: Find Psorothamnus spinosus in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Psorothamnus spinosus in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Psorothamnus spinosus


Record Modified: 2009-02-20
Research By: TWC Staff

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