Herbs or subshrubs. Stems: branches ± spreading. Leaves 2–6 cm; proximal stipules basally connate, distal distinct, green, lanceolate to ovate or elliptic, 4–10 mm; petiole 1–1.5 cm; leaflets 1–4.5 × 0.6–3 cm; awn between leaflets linear or lanceolate, 1 mm. Pedicels 4–10 mm. Flowers 6–7 mm diam.; sepals ovate to elliptic, 5–7 × 3.5–5.5 mm, margins white; petals obovate, 7–8 mm; stamens exserted [included], 11–12 mm; filaments red-orange, ± linear, basal scales red-orange, apex notched; anthers red-orange. Capsules 1–3.5 × 0.4–0.5 cm; style threadlike, to 7 mm. Seeds 2–3 mm.
Phenology: Flowering Apr–Jun.
Habitat: Dry disturbed areas.
Elevation: 0–1000 m.
Introduced; Calif., Idaho, Mont., Wash., s Europe, w, c Asia, n Africa.
Zygophyllum fabago has been declared a noxious weed by California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. Native to the Old World, it has been reported as a waif in Colorado, Kansas, Nevada (Churchill County), New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania (Philadelphia), and Texas (El Paso County). In the flora area, the species has been referred to as Z. fabago var. brachycarpum Boissier, an invalid name.
In Spain, Zygophyllum fabago has been found to grow in coarse mineral soils contaminated with heavy metals and to accumulate cadmium (I. Lefèvre et al. 2005). Thus, it may potentially cause heavy metal poisoning in grazing stock, as well as alkaloid poisoning.