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Desert Holly

Natural History

Desert Holly is a member of the Goosefoot Family. The compact, rounded shrub grows to a height of about 3.5 feet and has silver colored leaves which are adapted to the desert to reflect sunlight and are turned on edge to reduce exposure. The plant typically grows in alkaline soils as well on hilly rocky areas and in canyon washes at elevations below 4500 feet.

The Desert Holly which appears on this page was photographed in Death Valley.

Dormant in the extremes of summer, the plant grows and flowers in winter, relying on wind to pollinate it. Wind is abundant in the desert, but insect pollinators are less reliable, appearing when rare rainstorms cause spring wildflowers to sprout and bloom. Desert Holly typically blooms between January and April and produces small yellowish flowers followed by a small round fruit.

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