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     Grayia brandegeei occurs in all Four Corners states (and Wyoming) in rocky to sandy loose soils, primarily in the canyons of the Colorado and San Juan Rivers.  It is common to find it growing in the shade of tall shrubs and Oaks.

Field studies by Pendleton et al. of the U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station indicates that the plants are primarily, perhaps exclusively, monoecious.  The research further indicates that Grayia exhibits an unusual flowering technique that promotes cross pollination: each plant matures its male and female flowers at different times.  About half the Grayia brandegeei shrubs in a given area initially open all their male flowers.  At the same time, other nearby Grayia shrubs open only their female flowers.  After this flowering, the roles are reversed: the female flowers on the first shrubs open and the male flowers on the other shrubs open.  (For further details see "Gender specialization in heterodichogamous Grayia brandegeei (Chenopodiaceae): evidence for an alternative pathway to dioecy".)  

Townshend Brandegee collected this species in 1875 on the Hayden Expedition that explored Southwest Colorado.  The plant was collected, in Brandegee's words, "at the most western topographical station, San Juan Valley, 3,200 feet". (This information is in Brandegee's 1876 Hayden Survey Report entitled, "The Flora of Southwestern Colorado".  The elevation of "3,200 feet" is probably in error since the San Juan River joins the Colorado at about 3,700 feet in south-central Utah.  More than likely Brandegee collected the plant in eastern Utah at about 4,500 feet.)  (More biographical information about Brandegee.)

In 1876 Asa Gray named this species Grayia brandegeei but, according to Stanley Welsh, Gray was not convinced that the genus (named for him by Hooker and Arnott) designation was correct.  In 1984 Welsh placed the plant in the Zuckia genus which had been named by Paul Standley, famed early 20th century Smithsonian and Chicago Field Museum botanist, to honor Myrtle Zuck Hough (1880s?-1940s?) of Holbrook, Arizona and author of "Plant Names of the Southwestern United States".

Grayia brandegei
Grayia brandegeei.  Synonyms: Atriplex brandegeei, Zuckia brandegeei(Siltbush).
Amaranthaceae (Amaranth),
formerly Chenopodiaceae (Goosefoot Family)

Semi-desert. Woodlands, openings. Spring.
Behind the Rocks, Utah, April 3, 2006.

Grayia brandegei
Grayia brandegeei.  Synonyms: Atriplex brandegeei, Zuckia brandegeei(Siltbush).
Amaranthaceae (Amaranth),
formerly Chenopodiaceae (Goosefoot Family)

Semi-desert. Woodlands, openings. Spring.
Behind the Rocks, Utah, April 3, 2006.

Grayia brandegei
Grayia brandegeei.  Synonyms: Atriplex brandegeei, Zuckia brandegeei(Siltbush).
Amaranthaceae (Amaranth),
formerly Chenopodiaceae (Goosefoot Family)

Semi-desert. Woodlands, openings. Spring.
Behind the Rocks, Utah, April 3, 2006.

Welsh describes the leaves as "scurfy".

Grayia brandegei Grayia brandegei

Grayia brandegei

Grayia brandegeei.  Synonyms: Atriplex brandegeei, Zuckia brandegeei(Siltbush).
Amaranthaceae (Amaranth),
formerly Chenopodiaceae (Goosefoot Family)

Semi-desert. Woodlands, openings. Spring.
Behind the Rocks, Utah, April 3, 2006 and April 15, 2008.

In the top left photograph male flowers have shed their pollen and in  the next two photograph we see developing seeds, both orbicular and flattened.

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color KeySpecies present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Range map for Grayia brandegeei