Near Kirkland Junction
Sue Smith
Yavapai County Native & Naturalized Plants
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Plant Image
Plant - winter
Doug McMillan
Plant Image
Stems leaves absent
Near Kirkland Junction
Sue Smith
Plant Image
Young fruit
Near West Clear Creek
Sue Smith
Plant Image
Mature fruit
Near Kirkland Junction
Sue Smith
Plant Description

Origin: Native
General Description: Deciduous. Shrub or small tree. Grayish-green branches are smooth, straight, slender, rigid, ascending and spine-tipped up to 8 inches long and about 1/4 inch in diameter. Branches are able to conduct photosynthesis.
Identification notes: Spine-tipped stems. Leaves reduced to small scales. Stems pale green. Flowers inconspicuous in axillary elongated flower clusters; sepals, petals and stamens 5. Fruit a somewhat woody elliptical capsule.
Height: 6 to 16 feet     Width: Varies


Habitat Description: Desert slopes, washes and mesas, desert grasslands, pinyon-juniper and chaparral.
Plant Communities: Desert Scrub, Interior Chaparral, Semidesert Grasslands, Pinyon Juniper Woodland
Elevation: 2000 - 4500 feet


Color: Greenish-white to reddish-brown   Shape: Regular in elongated clusters    Tubular: N   Flowering Period: May - Aug
Description: Male and female flowers on separate plants. Greenish-white to reddish-brown, 5-petaled flowers are less than 1/2 inch wide, in small clusters along branches.


Leaf Color: Greenish   Type: Other   Shape: Other   Margin: Other   Attachment: Alternate   Hairs: N
Description: Greenish leaves are very small and insignificant, scale-like, short-lived and reduced to deciduous scales.


Color: Reddish-brown   Type: Capsule   Description: Clusters of woody capsules with 5 valves, each about 1/2 inch long. Seeds may persist for several years.


Bark Color: Gray, grayish-green   Bark Texture (Mature): Rough   Bark and Branch Description: Smooth yellowish-green with fine hairs when young, gray streaked and rough with age. Single trunk may branch and can grow to be 8 to 10 inches in diameter. Branches very flexible when young. Twigs and branches take the place of leaves in photosynthesis.
Spines, thorns or prickles: Y

  Arizona Cooperative Extension
Yavapai County
840 Rodeo Dr #C
Prescott, AZ 86305
(928) 445-6590
Version 8.0  
Last Updated: Dec 13, 2022
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