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Forestiera pubescens (Elbowbush)
Marcus, Joseph A.

Forestiera pubescens

Forestiera pubescens Nutt.

Elbowbush, Stretchberry, Spring Herald, Desert Olive, Tanglewood, Devil's Elbow, Spring Goldenglow, New Mexico Privet, Texas Forsythia

Oleaceae (Olive Family)


USDA Symbol: fopu2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

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.


From the Image Gallery

57 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Opposite
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Breeding System: Dioecious
Fruit Type: Drupe
Size Notes: Up to about 15 feet tall, often shorter.
Autumn Foliage: yes

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow , Green
Bloom Time: Jan , Feb , Mar , Apr , May , Jun


USA: AZ , CA , CO , NM , NV , 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: Dry , Moist
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

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

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

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX
Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - Santa Barbara, CA
Texas Discovery Gardens - Dallas, TX
Brackenridge Field Laboratory - Austin, TX
Patsy Glenn Refuge, c/o Wimberley Birding Society - Wimberley, TX
NPSOT - Native Plant Society of Texas - Fredericksburg, TX
Nueces River Authority - Uvalde, TX
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department - Austin, TX
NPSOT - Fredericksburg Chapter - Fredericksburg, TX
Texas Master Naturalists - Lost Pines Chapter - Bastrop, TX
NPSOT - Austin Chapter - Austin, TX
National Butterfly Center - Mission, TX
Jacob's Well Natural Area - Wimberley, TX
NPSOT - Williamson County Chapter - Georgetown, TX

Herbarium Specimen(s)

NPSOT 1072 Collected May 3, 1996 in Bexar County by Mike Fox
NPSOT 0690 Collected Feb 9, 1994 in Bexar County by Mike Fox
NPSOT 0689 Collected Feb 9, 1994 in Bexar County by Mike Fox

3 specimen(s) available in the Digital Herbarium

Web Reference

Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter
Webref 1 - Texas Native Shrubs (2002) Texas A&M University Agriculture Program and Leslie Finical, Dallas Arboretum

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2023-05-30
Research By: TWC Staff

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