Mojave indigo bush: Psorothamnus arborescens, Fabaceae (pea family)

It's a shame this one doesn't photograph well from a distance—the inky buds appear to be almost checkered, or pixelated, making for an 8-bit visual that spans the crown of this three foot tall shrub. The lupine-like racemes of bilateral flowers are elegantly tapered, and The ivory gnarled branches are distinctly pale and appear relatively smooth to the touch. (Nevermind that the scientific name psorothamnus is a greek compound meaning "mangy, scabby bush".)

If you're hoping to dye something a seductive shade of blue, this isn't your indigo—although you may be able to squeeze out a yellowish-brown hue from the branches, as is done with other plants in this genus. Aroma: dusty perfume. Oddly, It smells almost identical to one of the rabbitbrushes that blooms in the fall around here, but they're completely unrelated, other than the fact that they are both seed-bearing, flowering organisms in the plant kingdom that happen to hang out in my neighborhood.