Plant of the Week
Apache Plume (Fallugia paradoxa)
By Charlie McDonald
Apache plume is a small deciduous to semi-evergreen shrub with shredded bark and white flowers. Its fruits have long feathery plumes from which the plant derives its common name. Apache plume is native to the Southwest. It grows throughout all four southwestern deserts -- Mojave, Chihuahuan, Great Basin, and Sonoran with a range from southeastern California and southern Nevada, to southern Colorado, west Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, to northern Mexico. Its habitat is arroyos and dry rocky slopes in pinyon-juniper woodland at elevations of 3,000-8,000 feet.
Apache plume blooms in the spring, and sometimes again in the fall, with 2 inch white rose-like flowers. Plants prefer full sun, are extremely drought tolerant, and are hardy to minus 30 degrees. The flowers of Apache Plume attract bees and butterflies, the plants shelter wildlife, and the seeds attract birds. This is one of the showiest of the Southwestern native shrubs. It really stands out when the pink, silky-plumed seed heads develop and cover the tips of the branches for many months. As a result, Apache plume has become a favorite xeriscape plant in the Southwest.
To grow plants from seeds, collect them in the fall and chill them for 3 months before sowing in the early spring. A better choice, however, is to buy mature plants in 1 gallon to 5 gallon containers at local nurseries in the Southwest where they are usually found in the nursery’s selection of waterwise plants.