Thursday, April 22, 2010

Desert Princesplume

Desert princesplume, also known as prince's plume (Stanleya pinnata), is a member of the mustard family. It grows to five feet tall and has a long plume of yellow flowers that bloom from the bottom of the stalk upwards.
Each flower is about an inch long and the stamens extend even further.
The dried stems persist for a year or two. Stem leaves are lance-shaped.
It is conspicuous as its flowers generally stand above any nearby shrubs.
It thrives on selenium rich soils, so crushed stems or leaves can have an unpleasant odor and it can be toxic to livestock, although they rarely eat it unless other forage is available. It is found throughout the western and midwestern United States. I recently saw one only on an embankment above the California fan palms at the Cottonwood grove in Joshua Tree National Park.  

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