Spiny Hopsage (Hopsage)
Family: Chenopodiaceae – Goosefoot Family
Woody shrubs; 1.6' to 4.9' (5 to 15 dm) tall; branches more less thorny
Leaves: alternate; simple; grey or bluish; entire; has hairs; 0.2” to 1.2” (5 to 30 mm) long or more, 0.08” to 0.48” (2 to 12 mm) wide
Flowers: 0 petals; 4 or 5 lobed sepals; 1 pistil; 2 stigmas; 4 stamens; greenish, inconspicuous; dioecious, or less commonly monoecious; unisexual; imperfect; male (staminate) flowers with usually 4 lobed sepals, 0.06” to 0.08” (1.5 to 2 mm) long; 4 stamens, 2 to 5 flowers in clusters; female (pistillate) flowers 1 to several per bract
Pollinators: other genera in this family are pollinated by wind
Fruits: utricles – small 1 seeded fruit with a thin wall; large number of seeds that persist
Blooms in Arches National Park: April, May
Habitat in Arches National Park: desert shrub and pinyon-juniper communities; characteristically grows on halophytic (salty) soils
Location seen: Sand Dune Arch trail, Eye of the Whale Arch
Other: The genus name, "Grayia" honors Asa Gray (1810-1888), a distinguished American botanist and professor at Harvard University. The species name, “spinosa”, is from Latin for "thorny".
Plants in this family are generally weedy, but beets and spinach are members of this family. The family is called the goosefoot family because the leaf shape may look like a goose's foot.
Did You Know?
Edward Abbey worked as a seasonal park ranger at Arches in the late 1950s. His 1968 memoir of this experience, "Desert Solitaire," has become a classic of desert literature.