Deerweed is a fairly common shrub that can be found blooming spring through summer. Its small yellow-to-red pea-shaped flowers appear in clusters spread out along its many branches. Flowers and leaves are both only about 1/4 to 3/8 inch long. The oblong leaves appear in leaflets of 3, also spread throughout along the stems. In the spring these plants have freshly-green colored leaves, yellow flowers and softer stems. The heat and dryness of summer cause the flowers to redden and the leaves to fall off;however the plant still has hardy growth because photosynthesis carries on in force in the stems. Deerweed is a pioneer species in nature and helps to fertilize (adds nitrogen with the help of symbiotic bacteria) the soil naturally. That is, when a plant community is disturbed deerweed emerges and helps to reestablish that plant community. This can be very useful in restoration or to improve the health of your landscape. You can use it to help establish your plant community in your landscape if you start with a new house on a bare lot. Deerweed is found in dry areas of California, Arizona, and Mexico making it very drought tolerant.
Deerweed (Acmispon glaber)