Shrubs of the Guadalupes
Fallugia paradoxa is a scraggly, clump-forming shrub found between 4000' and 8000' in rocky or sandy soils along roadsides, canyons, and arroyos. The small wedge-shaped leaves of this partially evergreen shrub are divided into 3 to 7 blunt-tipped lobes. Conspicuous white flowers are present all summer. Fruits are feathery balls often tinged with red or pink. The fruit reminds some people of an Indian feather bonnet, hence the common name, apache plume.
Agrito, Algerita, or Barberry
Berberis sp. is an evergreen shrub with stiff, spiny, holly-like leaflets on alternate, compound leaves. The yellow flowers grow in small clusters and yield a small reddish berry in the fall. A yellow dye can be extracted from the stems, and jelly is made from the berries. Three species are found in the park.
Choisya dumosa is an aromatic, evergreen shrub of the canyons and hillsides, that grows between 3000' and 7000'. The unique, palmately compound, opposite leaves have 5 to 10 narrow, coarsely toothed, gland-dotted leaflets. Flowers are solitary or in small clusters with 5 white petals. Young twigs are green and hairy, becoming gray and warty with age. This shrub is a member of the citrus family, but the fruits are not edible.
Desert Ceanothus or Desert Buckthorn
Ceanothus greggii is associated with rocky and often brushy slopes above 2000'. This heavily browsed, thorny shrub is seldom more than 4 feet in height. Leathery and opposite, the gray-green leaves are finely toothed and semi-evergreen. The tiny, white, fragrant flowers are produced in small axillary clusters. The berrylike fruit is green and three-lobed, turning reddish brown as it ripens.
Cercocarpus montanus is a slender-stemmed shrub of dry rocky areas found at elevations above 3000'. Simple oval leaves are about 1 inch long with distinct veins and coarse-toothed margins. The tiny flowers lack petals, but the sepals form a greenish tube that holds the many stamens. In autumn, fuzzy, spiral tails 1 to 3 inches long are found on the small seeds.
Skunkbush, Squawbush, or Desert Sumac
Rhus trilobata is a heavily browsed shrub found above 3500'. Leaves are alternate and compound with three lance-shaped, toothed or lobed leaflets. Tiny flowers with yellow petals appear in dense clusters before the leaves develop. The reddish-orange, hairy berries are used to make a lemonade-like drink. Indians used the stems in basket making. The leaves turn red in fall and are aromatic when crushed.
Rhus virens, an evergreen shrub of rocky hillsides and cliffs, is found above 2000'. The alternate, compound leaves are leathery with 5 to 9 leaflets and entire margins. Tiny white flowers appear in clusters after rains. The reddish fruit is covered with short hairs and used to make a lemonade-type beverage.
Acacia greggii is found between 3500' and 5000' along streams and arroyos and in canyons. This shrub or small tree often grows in almost impenetrable thickets. Leaves are bipinnate with 2 to 6 pinnae each and 4 to 14 oblong, prominently nerved leaflets. Flowers are cylindrical, yellow, and grow up to 11/2 inches in length. Seed pods are flat, linear, and irregular constricted between seeds. Spines along the branches are curved back like the claws of a cat, hence the name.
Larrea tridentata is one of the most long-lived and abundant desert plants of North and South America. It is often found in pure stands. The small, leathery, evergreen leaves occur in pairs united at the base. When it rains, five-petaled flowers appear and the air is permeated with the fragrance of creosote bush. The fuzzy white seed balls are relished by rodents. When crushed, the resinous leaves smell like the petroleum by-product, creosote.