Leaf retention: This wildflower dies to the ground in winter, leaving dry brown stalks and
persistent seed pods. It normally reappears mid to late spring but can be induced to leaf out early,
with regular water, starting late winter.
Growth rate: Moderate.
Mature Size: 3-6' high and wide.
Flowers: Five oval shaped, vivid yellow petals, and two enlarged, curved, lower stamens.
The petals open wide in the morning and partially close by dusk to form a ball. No nectar is produced.
Bloom: Repeatedly, throughout summer, usually after the start of summer rains, or with irrigation.
Fruit: Slender, arced, cylindrical pods, 6" long or more, containing dark brown
pellet-like seeds in a single row. The pods remain after leaves have dropped in the fall.
Leaves: Dark green, lance-shaped, medium-sized, hairless leaflets. In dry soil, the leaflets
tend to rotate their petioles (stems) so their surface is nearly vertical to the ground and sun
exposure is reduced. The petioles, when rotated, can also bend so the leaflet is nearly parallel to the
Stems: No thorns.
Roots: Nitrogen-fixing*, with a taproot.
Attracts several species of sulphur butterflies, small ants, and lizards searching for ants.
While female butterflies investigate this plant as a potential caterpillar host plant, it is seldom chosen.
The butterflies seem attracted to an aroma given off by the leaves, undetectable to humans.
This plant may be pollinated by small ants. Harvester ants are known to cut off the leaves of this
plant when it is frequently watered during a drought and is near to their nest.
Toxic / Danger: There are non-specific reports of this plant being toxic to animals which
eat the leaves.
Origin: Arizona, New Mexico, and tropical and subtropical Americas.
Cultivation and Uses
USDA hardiness zones: 8-9.
Heat tolerant: Yes.
Drought tolerant: Yes.
Sun: Full sun to part shade.
Water once established: Monthly. Tolerates frequent watering.
Soil: Well drained, pH 6.6-7.8 (neutral to slightly alkaline). *Do not use a nitrogen fertilizer.
Prune: In winter, cut to ground, except keep one short central stalk to mark location of roots.
A very showy desert plant.
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Flower mid morning
Flowers mid to late afternoon
Flowers at dusk
Leaflets with insufficient water
Plant with sufficient water