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Spiny Hopsage (Grayia spinosa)
Shrubs Around Las Vegas, Vegetation Around Las Vegas
Spiny Hopsage (Grayia spinosa)

General: Spiny Hopsage (Grayia spinosa) is a fairly low-growing, brushy shrub with pointed stems that become spines. The leaves are generally small, deciduous, and variable in shape and size. This species is dioecious: male plants produce terminal, spike-like staminate inflorescences, while female plants produce seeds attached to leaf-like bracts that turn red with age.

Spiny Hopsage is a fairly common component of desert vegetation communities in drier areas along washes, on bajadas, and into the lower mountains in the Lower Sonoran (Creosote-Bursage Flats) and Upper Sonoran (Mojave Desert Scrub) life zones.

Family: Goosefoot (Chenopodiaceae).

Spiny Hopsage (Grayia spinosa)

Plant Form: Upright, brushy shrub with spine-tipped branches.

Height: To about 3 feet.

Stems: Branches many, stiff; bark gray; twigs become spine-like.

Leaves: Deciduous; blade tiny to 1.5 inches, elliptic to oblanceolate; flat to fleshy, entire; petiole short.

Flowers: Male and female plants separate. Male plants produce small, terminal, spike-like staminate inflorescences; flower with 4 lobes, 4 stamens. Female plants produce pistillate inflorescences that grow along the outer stems and produce seeds attached to leaf-like bracts (2 bractlets) that turn red with age.

Spiny Hopsage (Grayia spinosa)

Seeds: Attached to bracts.

Habitat: Dry, desert areas with sandy or gravelly soils.

Elevation: About 1,500 to 9,000 feet; about 3,000 to 5,000 in southern Nevada.

Distribution: Western North America.

Comments: This is the only species in the genus Grayia.

Spiny Hopsage (Grayia spinosa)
Leaves are variable on same plant: leaves here are small and fleshy...
Spiny Hopsage (Grayia spinosa)
... but on same plant, these leaves are larger and flatter
Spiny Hopsage (Grayia spinosa)
Stem with thorny tip
Spiny Hopsage (Grayia spinosa)
Older stems become stiff and spine-like
Spiny Hopsage (Grayia spinosa)
Female plant with ripening fruits
Spiny Hopsage (Grayia spinosa)
Female plant with ripening fruits
Spiny Hopsage (Grayia spinosa)
Female plant with ripening fruits
Spiny Hopsage (Grayia spinosa)
Female plant with ripening fruits
Spiny Hopsage (Grayia spinosa)
Staminate (male) inflorescences; flower with 4 lobes, 4 stamens
Spiny Hopsage (Grayia spinosa)
Young pistillate (female) inflorescence
Spiny Hopsage (Grayia spinosa)
Developing pistillate (female) inflorescences: seeds are attached to leaf-like bracts (2 bractlets)
Spiny Hopsage (Grayia spinosa)
Older pistillate (female) inflorescences: bracts turn red with age
Spiny Hopsage (Grayia spinosa)
Seeds attached to leaf-like bracts (2 bractlets each)
more to come ...

Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate. Names generally follow the USDA database.
copyright; Last updated 160529

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