FACT SHEET: Prince's Plume

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Common Name: Prince's Plume
Scientific Name: Stanleya pinnata
Family: Mustard Family (Brassicaceae)
Distribution: widely distributed in western North America
Habitat: desert shrub, sagebrush, pinyon-juniper, and mountain brush communities, usually on shales, mudstones and siltstones

Habit: perennial herb, sometimes woody at the base
Height: 2-5'
Spread: to 3'
Foliage Color: pale gray-green
Leaves: waxy, deeply lobed with elongate lobes rounded at the end, mostly basal, 2-7" long
Flower Color: bright yellow
Flower Form: flowers with four separate petals and long-protruding stamens, borne in elongate terminal spikes

Cultural Requirements: Prefers full sun and well-drained soils. Fully cold-hardy. Drought hardy (i.e., needs no supplemental water after establishment on the Wasatch Front) and intolerant of overwatering and excessive fertility.

Culture: Prince's plume seeds are nondormant and may be sown directly into containers without pretreatment. Plants grow quickly, and often flower the first year from seed. We have not tried to direct-seed this plant, but it has volunteered from seed in our gardens and could probably be field-sown in early fall or spring.

Uses and Notes of Interest: This handsome plant needs some room to be seen at its best. It is host to a wide variety of native insects, including the butterflies that are its pollinators, and is always interesting to examine. Its tall stalks make good cut flowers, and it may flower a second time after cutting. The foliage may have an odd and somewhat unpleasant odor, especially in the wild. This is the smell of organic selenium-bearing chemicals. The plant is an accumulator of this element and is usually found on high-selenium soils derived from fine- textured sedimentary rocks. Selenium is essential for animals, but too much of it can be toxic. Unpleasant smell is not likely to be a problem in the home garden. The tiny orange seeds of prince's plume are borne in long, pendant pods that are easily stripped from the plants when dry.