Fallugia paradoxa is a lower to middle elevation shrub of dry habitats. The flowers bear five white petals and dozens of stamens. The achenes have a long twisted hairy red style or "plume." The plume presumably aids in wind dispersal of the seeds. Large stands of Fallugia paradoxa can be seen alongside roads and on the sides of canyons. It looks similar to another member of the Rosaceae, Purshia stansburiana. Purshia has a much more obvious trunk than Fallugia. However, the flowers on Fallugia are larger and their pedicels are longer than on Purshia.
Benson and Darrow 1981, Kearney and Peebles 1969, Martin and Hutchins 1980, Heil et al 2013, Carter 2012
Common Name: Apache plume Duration: Perennial Nativity: Native Lifeform: Shrub General: Shrubs to 2 m tall, sometimes evergreen and sometimes deciduous, bark exfoliating in flakes, stems much-branched, the slender branchlets with gray to white wool. Leaves: Usually winter-deciduous, 6-8 mm long, in fascicles; pinnately divided into 3-7 narrowly oblong lobes; dark green above, rusty to white woolly beneath, with revolute margins. Flowers: White and showy, usually unisexual, in loose clusters of 1-3 at the end of elongate, nearly leafless stalks; flowers 3 cm in diameter; 5 calyx lobes alternating with narrower bractlets; 5 white petals, rounded to obovate and rotate; numerous yellow stamens and many carpels; female flowers have sterile anthers and male flowers have sterile ovaries; hypanthium persists after the dispersal of fruits; receptacle flat. Fruits: Many obovoid-fusiform achenes, each with a style that is modified into a pink or purplish feathery, twisted, and villous plume, to 3 cm long. Ecology: Found on rocky slopes, gravelly flats, and alluvial soils from 3,500-7,500 ft (1067-2286 m); flowers April-October. Distribution: c CA, s NV, s UT, AZ, CO, NM, s TX, s OK; south to n MEX. Notes: Distinguished by its spreading-shrubby habit, often forming thickets in flats and washes; the lobed leaves which are much thinner and less resinous and fragrant than Purshia; and the showy white flowers followed by many fruits with long, pink-purple plumose tails. Ethnobotany: Used ceremonially, as a shampoo, in basketry, as rough brooms, in cradleboard and bed construction, and in arrows. Etymology: Fallugia is named for the Italian botanist Abbot Virgilio Fallugi (1627-1707), while paradoxa means unusual or paradoxical. Synonyms: None Editor: SBuckley 2010, FSCoburn 2015, AHazelton 2015