Monday, January 18, 2010

Apache Plume

Fallugia paradoxa
A very attractive, dense, bushy, rounded, deciduous to semi-evergreen shrub native to the southwest U.S. ( from southeast California to central Colorado & far western Oklahoma; south to Mexico and southwestern Texas ). It is endangered in Oklahoma. Despite its appearance, it is a relative of the Rose. It can reach up to 7 feet or rarely 10 x 10 feet in natural form but also can be kept smaller pruned as a hedge. Fast growing; some recorded rates include: 1st year - 16 inches; 2nd year - 22 x 27 inches; 3 rd year - 33 x 27 inches; 5th year - 74 x 34 inches.
Apache Plume can also be cut back hard even to ground in early spring where it will readily resprout if it becomes too large or leggy. Blooming on new growth it takes pruning well.
The very small, 3 to 7 lobed, delicate looking leaves, up to 0.8 0.3 inches in size. The foliage can be evergreen but is generally deciduous during cold winters or drought. The foliage is blue-green above, downy white below; turning to bronze during fall or winter.
The 5-petalled, white flowers, up to 2 inches across, borne during summer, have many stamens. Usually, they form large racemes at the branch ends.
They are followed by clusters of purplish seeds with long silky styles.
The exfoliating bark is pale and the branches are slender.
Preferring full sun, they prefer dry well drained soils regularly watered deeply. Fallugia's can be extremely drought and heat tolerant and do not enjoy cold wet winters. In cool climates, plants against a hot south facing wall. Fertility is not important since the roots themselves can fix nitrogen. They hate high humidity so are not recommended for the East. They also do not like transplanting so small plants should be used. Fallugia can become weedy and aggressive if fertilized too much. An excellent very ornamental plant for gardens in dry climates in the west; its spreading root system also makes it valuable for erosion control.
Hardy zones 4 to 9 tolerating as cold as -40 F and may even survive in zone 3 if soil is dry in winter. A monthly deep watering during summer keeps it beautiful. In the humid east, it may be possible to grow it only on sand. It is not eaten by rabbit or deer.
Propagation can be from early spring division of root suckers and also from seed collected in the fall and sown in early spring.

* photos taken by Patrick J. Alexander @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database

* photo taken by Jean Pawek @ CalPhotos

* historic archive photo

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