SPECIES: Fallugia paradoxa

Fallugia paradoxa: INTRODUCTORY


SPECIES: Fallugia paradoxa

McWilliams, Jack. 2000. Fallugia paradoxa. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/ [].




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The currently accepted name of Apache-plume is Fallugia paradoxa (D. Don) Endl. (Rosaceae) [21,25,26,27].

Hybrids of Apache-plume with Mexican cliffrose (Purshia mexicana var. mexicana) occur in the Kaibab National Forest in Arizona [7] and a few putative hybrids between Stansbury cliffrose (Purshia mexicana var. stansburiana) and Apache-plume have been located [34].




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SPECIES: Fallugia paradoxa

Apache-plume occurs in Arizona, southern California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, western Texas, southern and central Utah, and northern Mexico [7,58]. It has been introduced into Idaho east of Boise and has established well [7,15]. Apache-plume from Utah was planted in Baker County, Oregon, in 1976 and performed "exceedingly well" [15].


FRES21 Ponderosa pine
FRES29 Sagebrush
FRES30 Desert shrub
FRES31 Shinnery
FRES32 Texas savanna
FRES33 Southwestern shrubsteppe
FRES34 Chaparral-mountain shrub
FRES35 Pinyon-juniper
FRES40 Desert grasslands





7 Lower Basin and Range
11 Southern Rocky Mountains
12 Colorado Plateau
13 Rocky Mountain Piedmont


K019 Arizona pine forest
K023 Juniper-pinyon woodland
K024 Juniper steppe woodland
K027 Mesquite bosques
K031 Oak-juniper woodland
K032 Transition between K031 and K037
K037 Mountain-mahogany-oak scrub
K038 Great Basin sagebrush
K039 Blackbrush
K040 Saltbush-greasewood
K041 Creosotebush
K042 Creosotebush-bursage
K043 Paloverde-cactus shrub
K044 Creosotebush-tarbush
K045 Ceniza shrub
K053 Grama-galleta steppe
K054 Grama-tobosa prairie
K056 Wheatgrass-needlegrass shrubsteppe
K057 Galleta-threeawn shrubsteppe
K058 Grama-tobosa shrubsteppe
K059 Trans-Pecos shrub savanna
K060 Mesquite savanna
K061 Mesquite-acacia savanna
K062 Mesquite-live oak savanna
K071 Shinnery
K086 Juniper-oak savanna
K087 Mesquite-oak savanna


63 Cottonwood
66 Ashe juniper-redberry (Pinchot) juniper
67 Mohrs (shin) oak
68 Mesquite
220 Rocky Mountain juniper
235 Cottonwood-willow
237 Interior ponderosa pine
239 Pinyon-juniper
241 Western live oak
242 Mesquite


210 Bitterbrush
211 Creosotebush scrub
212 Blackbush
401 Basin big sagebrush
402 Mountain big sagebrush
403 Wyoming big sagebrush
405 Black sagebrush
408 Other sagebrush types
412 Juniper-pinyon woodland
413 Gambel oak
414 Salt desert shrub
415 Curlleaf mountain-mahogany
416 True mountain-mahogany
417 Littleleaf mountain-mahogany
501 Saltbush-greasewood
502 Grama-galleta
503 Arizona chaparral
504 Juniper-pinyon pine woodland
505 Grama-tobosa shrub
506 Creosotebush-bursage
507 Palo verde-cactus
508 Creosotebush-tarbush
509 Transition between oak-juniper woodland and mahogany-oak association
727 Mesquite-buffalo grass
728 Mesquite-granjeno-acacia
729 Mesquite
730 Sand shinnery oak
733 Juniper-oak
734 Mesquite-oak
735 Sideoats grama-sumac-juniper


Apache-plume is not listed as a dominant for any habitat type. However, it appears as sub-dominant in a Colorado pinyon pine-alligator juniper (Pinus edulis-Juniperus deppeana)/Apache-plume/common wolftail (Lycurus phleoides)-bottlebrush squirreltail (Elymus elymoides) habitat type in pinyon-juniper woodlands in New Mexico [40]. A Colorado pinyon pine/rubber rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus nauseous)-Apache-plume habitat type is described by 2 sources [32,51] in Arizona and New Mexico. Additionally, the same 2 sources [32,51] list a oneseed juniper (Juniperus monosperma)/rubber rabbitbrush-Apache-plume habitat type in Arizona and New Mexico. In Arizona Steuver and Hayden [51] describe a singleleaf pinyon (Pinus monophylla)/rubber rabbitbrush-Apache-plume habitat type. Another source [37] describes 3 pinyon-juniper (Pinus-Juniperus spp.) woodland associations in Arizona and New Mexico (inferred from literature and defined by woodland climates) as:

1. oneseed juniper/Apache-plume in low sun cold climate types
2. pinyon pine/Apache-plume in high sun cold climate types
3. one-seed juniper/Apache-plume/Parmelia neoconspersa malpais (a lichen) in high sun cold climate types.

Shrubs commonly associated with Apache-plume in the pinyon-juniper habitat type include [4]:

mountain-mahogany (Cercocarpus spp.)
antelope bitterbrush (Purshia tridentata)
serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.)
big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata)
black sagebrush (A. nova)
rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus spp.)
oak (Quercus spp.)
yucca (Yucca spp.)
prickly-pear (Opuntia spp.)
snakeweed (Gutierrezia sarothrae)
eriogonum (Eriogonum spp.)

Grasses associated with Apache-plume in the pinyon-juniper habitat type are [4]:

Indian ricegrass (Achnatherum hymenoides)
needle-and-thread grass (Hesperostipa comata)
bottlebrush squirreltail (Elymus elymoides)
prairie Junegrass (Koeleria macrantha)
galleta (Pleuraphis jamesii)
blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis)
sideoats grama (B. curtipendula)
ringgrass (Muhlenbergia torreyi)
western wheatgrass (Pascopyrum smithii)
bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata)
slender wheatgrass (Elymus trachycaulus)
cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum)
threeawn (Aristida spp.)

The Apache-plume series of plant communities in Texas lists the following as components of the series [53]:

splitleaf brickellbush (Brickella laciniata)
granjeno (Celtis pallida)
desert willow (Chilopsis linearis)
catclaw acacia (Acacia greggii)
honey mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa)
sumac (Rhus microphylla, R. virens)

Apache-plume is part of the shrub understory in the Emory oak/Mexican pinyon (Quercus emoryi/Pinus cembroides) community type found in southwestern New Mexico [35], and Moir [36] discusses an Apache-plume "non-climatic" series vegetation classification in mostly Arizona and New Mexico. This is restricted to volcanic malpais, an extensive area of rough, barren lava flows, in the Cibola Forest. Ferguson [18] discusses a bitterbrush-Stansbury cliffrose-Apache-plume complex that occurs in the southwestern California to southern Nevada region.


SPECIES: Fallugia paradoxa

Apache-plume is generally considered "fair" food for livestock [22,50]. Reports of its value as food to wildlife vary, but most sources rate it as fair or moderate [28,29,31]. There are no references in the literature describing its value as cover for livestock or large wildlife, but it does provide cover for small mammals and birds [39,60].


Apache-plume is usually considered low to fair in palatability to livestock [7,11,38,60]. However, in the southeastern part of its range [7,38] and in winter [7,11,38,50,60] it is considered important forage.

Reports on palatability of Apache-plume to wildlife vary. Many sources refer to its use by deer in general with no description of species. Wasser [60] describes palatability of Apache-plume as "better" in winter for deer and it provides good browse for deer according to Thornburg [54]. Short [48] reports (after a literature search) Apache-plume makes up 1-5% of the diet of southwestern deer during winter and spring in Arizona and New Mexico. Stubbendieck and others [50] consider it important browse for big game.

Mule deer use of Apache-plume in the Southwest has been discussed. Kittams and others [28] found Apache-plume leaves, stems, and fruit to be of "some" importance to mule deer during an average growing season in the foothills of Carlsbad National Park, Texas. During poor growing seasons, browse use is high, including Apache-plume. At upper elevations, Apache-plume is especially important during the non-growing season. A study of mule deer diets in south-central New Mexico determined that Apache-plume was "highly" preferred [33] and Krausman and others [29] report Apache-plume to comprise 1-5% of desert mule deer diet.

Sundsrom and others [52] report Apache-plume as a "major browse species" consumed by pronghorn in the Trans-Pecos shrub savanna of western Texas and adjacent New Mexico.


In-vitro digestibility of Apache-plume during winter was 29.8%, low in comparison to other winter forages. Crude protein (% dried matter) was 4.8, also low when compared to other winter forage [10,62]. Winter leafiness (% of current-year growth) of Apache-plume was 27.3% in a common garden study in Idaho [62].


Apache-plume provides cover for small mammals and ground-dwelling birds [60]. The Colorado chipmunk, an endangered species in New Mexico, occurs in the Organ Mountains of that state in ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) and juniper or oak woodlands that contain Apache-plume [39].

Although not mentioned specifically as providing nesting cover, Apache-plume is listed as one of the common plants occurring in the deciduous woodlands association in Big Bend National Park, Texas. This plant association provides nesting cover for the mourning dove, roadrunner, black-chinned hummingbird, ladder-backed woodpecker, ash-throated flycatcher, cactus wren, mockingbird, crissal thrasher, brown-headed cowbird, pyrrhuloxia, blue grosbeak, varied bunting, and house finch [61].


Apache-plume's chief value for rehabilitation of disturbed sites is erosion control/soil stabilization [7,11,12,34,38,54,60], especially under arid or semi-arid conditions [12,38,54]. It is valuable for erosion control/soil stabilization because it spreads underground vegetatively [7,34,38,60]. Both nursery stock and wildings have been planted for erosion control and where seed sources exist, Apache-plume spreads naturally to roadside shoulders and barrow pits [7]. A 1-gallon plant can be fully established in 18 months. Succulent root-tip cuttings also sprout fairly easily but are extremely perishable [20].

In addition to its utilization for erosion control, Apache-plume is also used for seeding rangeland. It is a recommended browse plant for seeding New Mexico rangeland, except on clay, silty or wet soils [1]. James [23] recommends Apache-plume for seeding desert grassland areas of Arizona between 3,500 to 5,000 feet (1,077-1,539 m) and Monsen and Davis [38] recommend it to improve or revegetate disturbances in shrubland communities of the Four Corners region. It is rated as medium for range restoration and adapted for juniper-pinyon, blackbrush (Coleogyne ramosissima), big sagebrush, and mountain brush vegetal types by McAruthur and others [34].

Direct seeding is difficult because the long plumose style is difficult to detach when cleaning the seed. Uncleaned seeds do not readily flow through a drill, causing irregular seeding rates and planting depths [38]. Up to 1/2-inch planting depth is probably usable on drier range sites [60].

In southwestern United States, Apache-plume has been broadcast sown from July to October or from February through April with good results. It germinates without special treatment, hence seeding times should precede growing season with most dependable moisture for establishment [60]. Germination occurs within 4 to 10 days after sowing [12]. It is usually used as a minor ingredient in seed mixes [60].

Seed is available commercially [9] or can be collected from summer through fall, when the plumes have faded to white and easily detach from the receptacle [20]. Seeds can be stripped or shaken onto a canvas. Chopping or rubbing to break off the styles should be followed by fanning or screening to remove debris [12]. Fresh seed germinates in five days at 68 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit (20-260C), with an average germination rate of 30-40%. Because seedlings dampen off easily, good air circulation is necessary [20].

When seeds were separated into 1 group without styles and another group with styles, and placed in the same environment, germination was significantly higher for seeds with detached styles (89%) than for seeds with intact styles (69%) (P<0.0001) [58].

Minimum purity and viability standards for commercial Apache-plume seed in Utah are 90 and 70%, respectively. Seed with a moisture content of 7 to 12% can be stored in cloth or burlap bags for at least 2 or 3 years in a dry, ventilated warehouse or granary without significant loss in viability [12].


Bundles of twigs from Apache plume were used by Native Americans as brooms and older stems for arrow shafts. A decoction from leaves was used as a growth stimulant for hair [16,50].

Because of its conspicuous flowers and decorative, plumelike seeds, Apache4-plume has been used in ornamental planting since 1877 and is hardy as far north as Massachusetts [12]. It is especially recommended for landscaping in dry, informal settings [20]. Since it is drought tolerant, it is a prime candidate for ornamental use on non-irrigated sites [46].

Jones and Barclay [24] suggest that Apache-plume may be a possible source of seed oil and protein for industrial raw material since the protein % is 30.6 and oil % is 36.8.


Apache-plume is cold tolerant and hardy. However, it is important to be certain of adaptation of seed sources used because there is some variability in these characteristics. It has good drought tolerance although less productive under drought conditions. Loss of productivity is most evident in less flowering and seed production when stressed. Plants thrive in full sunlight [60] but seedlings have less competitive ability [18,60]. It is better sown with quicker developing associates and is compatible with these associates. Compatibility increases after full establishment [60].

Apache-plume is included as a minor ingredient in game range revegetation seed mixtures in the blackbrush (Coleogyne ramosissima), mountain brush, and pinyon-juniper range types in Utah [60] and has been successfully established on southern Idaho deer winter range [18]. It endures close grazing very well and shows excellent "recuperative powers" [11].


SPECIES: Fallugia paradoxa

Apache-plume is a native shrub that has many slender, straggly branchlets that become shaggy or shreddy. It bears numerous achenes appearing as feathery balls tipped with elongated styles [16].

Considerable ecotypic variation in appearance, particularly in height, has been noted [12]. Apache-plume can grow from 2 to 8 feet (0.6-2.5 m) tall [50] and is classified as a semievergreen shrub [7,20] or "often" evergreen [11].

Endomycorrhizae were found in association with Apache-plume in New Mexico [63].




Apache-plume establishes from both seed and sprouting. It produces seed profusely [20,50] and dispersal of seed is usually by wind [12]. Apache-plume also spreads by root suckers and can be found in dense clumps [18]. Mature plants often sprout and spread by root suckers following flooding and burial by sediment carried from flash floods [38].

Apache-plume from a Utah source was planted in Baker County, Oregon, in 1976. It averaged 16 inches (40 cm) growth its 1st year and produced flowers and seed in the 6th year [15].

Apache-plume was planted in 1974 as part of a study on growth habits and floral phenology of native Intermountain shrubs at the Boise Shrub Garden northeast of Boise, Idaho. Mean annual height and crown spread measurements in inches of Apache-plume in Idaho are presented below [46]:

1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981
Height 15.7 21.7 33.1 30.7 73.6 32.3 38.2
Crown 15.0 27.2 27.2 28.7 33.9 42.5 42.1


Apache-plume grows best in deep, moist, rich sites on open canyon bottoms and sides of arroyos. However, it can occur in a variety of soils from dry rocky ridges of the lower brush types to the pinyon-juniper type to the open ponderosa pine belt [7]. It is most commonly found restricted to washes, ephemeral waterways, and alluvial plains, especially in dry, sandy, or gravelly soils [20,38,50,58]. These soils can be derived from sandstone, limestone, or basalt. Apache-plume is tolerant of weakly saline and neutral to moderately basic soils [60] and requires only 8 to 20 inches (203-508 mm) of annual precipitation [20].

Apache-plume is found in the uplands of the Mojave, Sonoran, and Chihuahuan deserts at 3,467 to 7,480 feet (1,070-2,290 m) [58]. In New Mexico, Apache-plume has been found as high as 9,000 feet (2,700 m) [13]. Some elevations for Apache-plume in the pinyon-juniper habitat type include [4]:

Utah and northeastern Arizona on north facing slopes of on the Kaibab plateau to 6,500 feet (2,000 m).
East central Utah on south facing slopes of the Book Cliffs to about 8,400 feet (2,585 m).
The Great Basin and Colorado Basin have 5,200 feet (1,600 m) as the typical lower limit, with a possible extreme low for the pinyon-juniper type at St. George, Utah, at 3,200 feet (4,267 m).

Dick-Peddie and Hubbard [14] classify Apache-plume as a major obligate riparian plant in New Mexico, and Stuever and Haydon [51] consider Apache-plume an indicator of excessive drainage.


Apache-plume is sometimes a pioneer plant in early succession on raw, unvegetated slopes and lava flows in upper desert grassland and juniper-pinyon zones in the Southwest [60]. Moir [36] discusses an Apache-plume "non-climatic" vegetation type in mostly Arizona and New Mexico.


Apache-plume can flower as early as April or as late as August. Ripening of the fruits and their dispersal occurs a month or 2 after flowering begins [12]. In western Texas, Apache-plume flowers from April to August [58].

Phenological development of Apache-plume for 1979 and 1980, during the study at the Boise Shrub Garden, was [46]:

Leaf growth initiated 1st leaf expanded Floral buds visible Anthesis Fruit development initiated Leader growth initiated Fruit mature
1979 April 18 May 4 May 22 June 10 June 22 May 5 July 28
1980 April 16 May 2 May 5 May 25 June 3 April 28 July 30

Leader growth for 2 years, in inches, of Apache-plume during the study in Boise was [46]:

1979 May 15, 1.1 May 30, 1.5 June 13, 2.2 June 28, 2.8 July 27, 3.7 Aug. 29, 3.6 Sept. 20, 3.6
1980 May 13, 1.1 June 03, 2.6 June 12, 3.7 June 26, 3.8 July 21, 4.4 Aug. 12, 6.2 ---


SPECIES: Fallugia paradoxa

Apache-plume is classified as a "survivor" after fire [49]. It exhibits vigorous sprouting from root suckers after top-kill by fire [7,18,60]. Since Apache-plume spreads naturally to roadside shoulders and barrow pits [7], it should also help re-vegetate sites disturbed by fire if nearby seed sources exist. Aro [4] reported that it tolerates fire well in the pinyon-juniper habitat type.

Fire regimes for plant communities in which Apache-plume occurs are summarized below. For further information regarding fire regimes and fire ecology of communities where Apache-plume is found, see the "Fire Ecology and Adaptations" section of the FEIS species summary for the plant community or ecosystem dominants.

Community or Ecosystem Dominant Species Fire Return Interval Range in Years (mean)
Rocky Mountain ponderosa pine* P. ponderosa var. scopulorum 2-10
Colorado pinyon P. edulis 10-49
Texas savanna Prosopis glandulosa var. glandulosa < 10 [8]
basin big sagebrush Artemisia tridentata var. tridentata 12-43 [44]
mountain big sagebrush Artemisia tridentata var. vaseyana 5-15 [64]
Wyoming big sagebrush Artemisia tridentata var. wyomingensis 10-70 (40) [59,64]
curlleaf mountain-mahogany* Cercocarpus ledifolius 13-1,350 [3,45]
desert grasslands Bouteloua eriopoda and/or Pleuraphis mutica (10) [8]
mountain grasslands Pseudoroegneria spicata 3-40 (10) [2]
plains grasslands Bouteloua gracilis and/or Buchloe dactyloides 20-40 [8]
* fire return interval varies widely; trends in variation are noted in the species summary


Geophyte, growing points in soil
Initial off-site colonizer (off-site, initial community)


SPECIES: Fallugia paradoxa

Aboveground portions of Apache-plume are top-killed by fire [7,18,60].


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Apache-plume root suckers ensure a quick recovery and it often forms miniature thickets after fire [60]. Clumps of Apache-plume sprouted vigorously after campfires were built on them [7].


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Fallugia paradoxa: References

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