Prince’s Plume in the Landscape

princes plume
Photo credit: Graham Hunter 

January 2009

Stanleya pinnata


Extremely drought-tolerant perennial to 5 feet, tall with a large mound of coarse foliage at the base and tall plumes of lemon yellow flowers in summer. This species occurs naturally throughout the interior West and plains states. Though small, the flowers are numerous and open progressively towards the tip of the stalk; the effect in the landscape is quite spectacular.

Cultural Requirements

Native habitat Valleys and foothills; talus slopes at elevations from 3,000 to 9,000 feet 
Soil Thrives in poor, dry, sandy soil; use gravel mulch
Cold Tolerance  Zones 4 - 8 
Drought Tolerance High 
Salt Tolerance Moderate
Sun/Shade Preference Full sun
Propagation From seed and division
Maintenance Requires good drainage, and low fertility soils; water sparingly once established 
Problems Toxic to livestock

Landscape Value: 

Use in the Landscape Background, accent, rock gardens; try several plants progressing through strategically placed boulders in a xeric garden! 
Leaves Blue-gray, lanceolate (lanceshaped) leaves at base; finer and thinner up the stalks 
Flowers Showy, lemon yellow arranged in a raceme (flowers attached to a central stalk by a short stem) 
Apr May June July Aug Sept Oct
Fruit (seedheads) Silique (2-chambered capsule) 
Form Erect flower stalks emerge from clumps of mostly basal leaves 
Texture Fine, feathery
Ultimate Size 1-5 feet tall 
Rate of Growth Medium to fast
Plant Community Mountain brush, pinyon-juniper, shrub steppe, cool desert shrub, salt desert shrub 
Availability Limited, but improving
Cultivars none of ornamental value


Cold-stratify seed for up to 90 days. Sow seed to a depth of ¼″ in a well drained, peat-based soil-less substrate. Transplant seedlings to individual pots as soon as roots are established and growing. 

Additional Photo:

Photo credits: Heidi Kratsch 

princes plume

princes plume


  • Digital Atlas of the Vascular Plants of Utah. 2008. URL:
  • Mee, W., J. Barnes, R. Kjelgren, R. Sutton, T. Cerny, and C. Johnson. 2003. Waterwise: Native Plants for Intermountain Landscapes. Utah State University Press, Logan, UT.
  • USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service. 2008. Plants database. URL:
  • This fact sheet belongs to a series of fact sheets about Intermountain West native trees, shrubs, perennials, and grasses called “Native Plants in the Landscape.” Look for others in the series by visiting, then clicking on ‘Horticulture’ and ‘Native Plants’. 


Heidi Kratsch, Extension Ornamental Horticulture Specialist; Graham Hunter, Research Associate, Center for Water Efficient Landscaping

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