June 7, 2016

Dunes in Bloom: Deerweed

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Common Name(s): Deerweed

Scientific Name: Acmispon glaber

Family: Fabaceae

Plant Type: shrub

Communities: Chaparral, Coastal Sage Scrub

Habitat: coastal, slopes

Size: Up to 4 ft wide, 3 ft tall

deerweed4Deerweed is a perennial dwarf shrub in the pea family. It is commonly found in ecosystems on nutrient-poor soils or rock and can be found within the coastal sage scrub community of the dunes. Deerweed is a pioneer species, which means that it is often one of the very first plants to grow and colonize an area of bare soil. Pioneer species’ such as Deerweed are extremely important to establishing successful plant communities in the dunes.


Deerweed has green stems and small pinnate shaped leaves. Bloom time is from March to August, and flowers are small, yellow, and clustered together in an inflorescence consisting of 2-7 flowers.

Deerweed is consumed by numerous wildlife, providing food for hummingbirds, bees, butterfly larvae, and deer.

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