Paperbag Bush

Salazaria mexicana

Paperbag Bush

Color: Violet to purple

Common name: Paperbag Bush

Latin name: Salazaria mexicana


Height: 20–60 inches

Description: Salazaria mexicana takes the form of a rounded shrub, typically 50-100 cm high, sometimes larger. The stems form a spreading rigid pattern, with the tips often becoming spine-like. The 2-lipped flowers develop in pairs facing away from each other; the upper lip is white to light violet and hairy, while the lower lip is 3-lobed and intense dark violet. The calyx starts out as simply a base to the flower, reddish-purple in shade, and then as the flower ages, it expands into its distinctive bag shape, 1-2 cm across, the dried flower eventually falling out of the hole in the end.

Leaf: The leaves are small, 3-15 mm long and 2-8 mm wide, ovate to elliptic, entire, and with a very short or nonexistent stalk.

Range: Desert, s East of Sierra Nevada

Habitat: Sandy to gravelly slopes, washes, scrub, woodland

Elevation: < 1800 m.

Flowering time: Mar–Jun

Notes: Salazaria mexicana, a dicot, is a shrub that is native to California and is also found outside of California, but is confined to western North America. Distribution outside California: to Utah, Texas, n Mexico.

Horticulture: S. mexicana: Given excellent drainage (modification of compacted or other water-holding soils may be necessary) and moderate summer watering, grows especially well in zones 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 19, 20, and 21 and also in zones 7, 13, and 18.

We have an online wildflower field guide that is designed to help you identify desert wildflowers by color, scientific name, region and common name. The pictures are sized to work on the iPod, iPhone, iPad and similar devices. With your iPod or phone you will easily be able to identify wildflowers while in the desert. Links for downloads are on the bottom of the Wildflower Field Guide page.

Photo tips: Most digital point-and-shoot cameras have a macro function - usually symbolized by the icon of a little flower. When you turn on that function, you allow your camera to get closer to the subject, looking into a flower for example. Or getting up close and personal with a bug. More on desert photography.

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