Common name: Spiny hopsage, applebush
Botanical name: Grayia spinosa
Virtues: Late spring flowers; extreme drought tolerance.
Foliage: Grayish, stiff, spine-tipped branches bear flat oval leaves, similar to a jade plant’s. Older bark is dark gray and shredded.
Flowers: Spikes of greenish yellow flowers appear in late spring and age to brilliant red, followed by shiny seed pods on female plants.
Habit: Low deciduous shrub, 2 to 4 feet tall and wide.
Origin: Dry plains, foothills and valleys from western Montana and eastern Washington south to Arizona.
Cultivation: Grow in dry rocky or sandy soil in part shade. Male and female flowers are carried on separate plants (dioecious). Plant both sexes for fruit set. The female plant has showier flowers. USDA Zones 4-9.
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Image by Stan Shebs. Licensing.