The name of this plant references its use by early Mormon settlers of the area. Although bitter in taste, its thin, light green, jointed stems were used to make tea for medicinal purposes. These stems appear to be leafless but, in fact, have small inconspicuous leaves at each of the nodes on the stems. The leaf size is an adaptation to avoid water loss in this arid climate. From February through April this shrub is covered with small yellow pollen cones contributing to the spectacular blooms in the park.
This specimen was collected by Ruth Nelson. Nelson collected 850 specimens for the Zion herbarium from 1971-1973 and discovered 119 new taxa for the park while researching her book, Plants of Zion National Park.