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Spiny Hopsage (Hopsage)

Grayia spinosa

Grayia spinosa

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?

Pinyon Pine

Pinyon trees do not produce pine nuts every year. These delicious nuts can only be harvested every three to seven years. This irregular schedule prevents animals from adapting to an abundance of pine nuts and guarantees that at least some nuts will become new trees instead of a quick meal.