Russian thistle, also known as tumbleweed, is a dense intricately-branched plant forming a round bushy clump one to three feet tall. Stems and branches vary in color from green to red, often with darker stripes. It has many rigid and spine-tipped, narrow, fleshy leaves and bracts, which are soft when young but become dry and brittle with age.
Columbia goldenweed is one of the last blooming wildflowers in our foothills, followed only by snow buckwheat, rabbitbrush, and tall buckwheat.
Snow buckwheat is conspicuous because it flowers in late summer when other plants in its rocky habitat are dormant. Sometimes it grows so abundantly that the landscape appears dusted with snow. Snow buckwheat grows in clumps up to sixteen inches tall and wide. The crown gives rise to numerous short woody stems.
Buckwheats have branched stems one to three feet tall, and large, three to six inch, densely hairy, leathery basal leaves. The flowers, individually very small, form dense single or multiple umbrella-like clusters, called umbels, at the end of the upright, nearly leafless stems. Each small flower has three sepals and three petals.
Three-tip sagebrush is a rounded, freely branching, evergreen shrub. Its leaves are gray-green, long, and deeply cleft into three lobes. The stems are a smooth pale gray. Three-tip sagebrush carries the distinctive sage fragrance, especially when wet. The flowers are green and inconspicuous.
Big sagebrush is a strongly scented, woody evergreen shrub. It is the most abundant shrub in the shrub-steppe because it has adapted to a wide range of environmental conditions. It usually grows about four feet tall, but can grow taller than ten feet in areas with deep soil and more moisture.