Apache Plume (Fallugia paradoxa)

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(Fig. 01)
Picture Notes: On 10/04/12 I came across a large patch (Fig. 03) of Apache Plumes while hiking a wash that paralleled Crescent Peak Mine Road off of Nipton Road. This spring perennial with its very distinctive wispy plumes appears so delicate, that one would think that its flowers would just blow away with the slightest breeze. The beautiful close-up in (Fig. 01) above was provided by fellow hiker, Kathy Pool. Backlit by the sun (Fig. 04), its flowers look like cotton balls.
Description: The Apache plume (Fallugia paradoxa), is an erect evergreen shrub is a member of the Rose Family (Rosaceae). It has light gray or whitish peeling bark on its many thin branches
(Fig. 02)
that usually do not exceed six feet in height. The leaves are each about 3/4 inches long and deeply lobed with their edges rolled under. The upper surface of the leaf is green and hairy while the underside is duller in color and scaly. Its round, white flowers (Fig. 02), consisting of five rounded white petals with yellow centers containing many thread-like stamens and pistils, are rose-like when new. The ovary of the flower remains after the white petals fall away, leaving many plume-like lavender styles, each 3 to 5 centimeters long. The plant may be covered with these dark pinkish clusters of curling, feathery styles after flowering. These white-to-pink plumes grow from a seed-like base at the tips of tangled, slender branches and bloom between April and June and sometimes again in the fall. They can be found throughout all 4 deserts of the Southwest -- Mojave, Chihuahuan, Great Basin and Sonoran. Southeastern California and southern Nevada, to southern Colorado, west Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, to northern Mexico. They generally grow on gravelly and rocky slopes, roadsides, dry washes and hillsides between 4,000 and 8,000 feet. They prefer full sun, are extremely drought tolerant, and are hardy to minus 30 degrees. The flowers of Apache Plume attract bees and butterflies, the plants shelter wildlife, and the seeds attract birds. This is one of the showiest of the Southwestern native shrubs and really stands out when the pink, silky-plumed seed heads develop and cover the tips of the branches for many months.This plant's common name is derived from the fact that it resembles Apache war bonnets. Tewa and other native peoples used the stems of Apache Plumes to make brooms and arrow shafts.
(Fig. 03)
(Fig. 04)