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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Some Other Flowers

I've been busy working on posts for my Desert Survivor blog, and have included some vegetation from the Mojave Desert. Stop by to see something a little different than what we have here!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Clasping Pepperweed-Lepidium perfoliatum

This unusual looking plant with the clasping leaves is in the Mustard Family (Brassicaceae) and is called clasping pepperweed or clasping peppergrass (Lepidium perfoliatum). Unfortunately it's nonnative.

Although most of the leaves on the stem are clasping, the basal leaves and lower stem leaves may be divided. The tiny flowers are yellow.

For more information about clasping pepperweed, click here.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Foxtail Barley-Hordeum jubatum

Another member of the Grass Family (Poaceae) that is easy to identify is foxtail barley (Hordeum jubatum). It's native to North America and eastern Siberia, but it acts like a weed, growing frequently in disturbed areas. The perennial herb is a monocot and can tolerate saline soils.
As the summer progresses, the grass will bend over more and appear flimsier.
For more info about foxtail barley, click here.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Indian Rice Grass-Acnatherum hymenoides

I've been hesitant about delving into the Grass Family (Poaceae) because there are so dang many of them, but maybe if I ease into it, it won't be so bad after all. Today's plant is one that is fairly easy to distinguish, Indian rice grass (Acnatherum hymenoides), formerly Oryzopsis hymenoides and Stipa hymenoides.

Indian rice grass is a perennial cool-season bunchgrass that grows in many places in western North America in a variety of habitats, but it does particularly well in sandy soils near sagebrush. As the name suggests, it is not only nutritious for wildlife and livestock, but also for humans.

This closeup shows the small seeds. Indian rice grass does well after fires and is also a good option for xeriscaping.

For more information about Indian rice grass, click here.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Chokecherry-Prunus virginiana

A shrub or small tree, chokecherry (Prunus virginiana) is often found in moister areas. Right now it has racemes of small white flowers that will turn into fruits that can be used for jellies and jams.

These white fruits will turn darker as they age--the darker they are, the sweeter they are. Chokecherry is found across most of the U.S.
For more info, click here.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Ephedra viridis-Mormon tea

This interesting-looking perennial evergreen bush is Mormon tea (Ephedra viridis), a member of the Ephedra Family (Ephedraceae). Instead of traditional leaves, ephedra has numerous stems pointing upwards, making it easy to distinguish. It's considered a highly palatable shrub for larger wildlife species, but is not eaten by livestock.

This is a male Ephedra, with larger cones in pairs at the stem joints.
The plant was used my Native Americans to make beverages, and ended up with the common name Mormon tea due to early settlers of European descent doing the same.

For more information about Mormon tea, click here.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Shockley's Buckwheat-Eriogonum shockleyi

This low-lying mat-forming plant with yellow flowers is a member of the Buckwheat Family (Polygonaceae). It's called Shockley's buckwheat (Eriogonum shockleyi) and I found it on a rocky outcrop at about 5,000 feet. It flowers from May to September.

For more information about Shockley's buckwheat, click here.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Desert Dandelion-Malacothrix torreyi

This bright yellow annual herb is desert dandelion (Malacothrix torreyi). It has mainly basal leaves that are pinnately lobed, and a reddish stem. It can grow 4 to 16 inches tall and is found throughout the western U.S.

For more information about desert dandelion, click here.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Spiny Hopsage-Grayia spinosa

There's a bush lighting up the landscape right now with its almost yellow clustered flowers. This is a member of the Goosefoot Family (Chenopodiaceae), a very important component of the lower elevations of the Great Basin desert. This particular bush is called spiny hopsage (Grayia spinosa), although some folks prefer to call it applebush and I know one cowboy who calls it sugar greasewood.

You can see how the lighter color contrasts with the grayer sagebrush and the greener greasewood and green rabbitbrush.

A closeup of the blossoms shows their very wrinkled appearance. As they age they turn pinker, as seen below.

Male flowers are borne on separate plants, with small flowerheads growing at the axils of the leaves.

Above you can see a female hopsage on the left and a male on the right.

Here's a closeup of female flowers on the left and male flowers on the right.

For more info about spiny hopsage, click here.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Mountain Pepperweed-Lepidium montanum

This showy little plant was growing on gravel at about 5,000 feet elevation. Upon closer examination I could see that the flowers had four petals, a characteristic of the Mustard Family. This is mountain pepperweed (Lepidium montanum). It's found throughout the western United States.

For more information about mountain pepperweed, click here.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wingnut Crytantha-Cryptantha pterocarya

This annual herb is a member of the Borage Family and grows in dry, sandy areas throughout the western U.S. It's called wingnut cryptantha (Cryptantha pterocarya).

It's not a very big plant, but it is quite interesting looking upon examination.
For more information about wingnut cryptantha, click here.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Bud Sagebrush-Picrothamnus desertorum

This small shrub at the lower elevations is bud sagebrush (Picrothamnus desertorum), previously called Artemisia spinescens. It is also known as budsage and is a member of the Sunflower Family (Asteraceae).

The flower heads are small and yellow, and because they flower as early as March, are often damaged by frost. The pollen causes allergies in some. The shrub is an important food source for upland game birds, other wildlife, and livestock.

For more information about bud sagebrush, click here.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Cushion Cryptantha-Cryptantha circumscissa

This tiny little prickly plant with the inconspicuous white flowers can easily be overlooked as it dots the valley bottoms. This is cushion cryptantha (Cryptantha circumscissa), a member of the Borage family. It rarely grows more than 10 cm tall.

For more information about cushion cryptantha, click here.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Browneyes-Camissonia claviformis

This rather small plant in the evening-primrose family is browneyes (Camissonia claviformis) as best as I can tell, although Camissonia boothii is also very similar. They both are found throughout the western U.S. and have many subspecies with different shaped leaves, different heights, and even different colors. It's an annual, and like others in this family, blooms in the evening.

For more information, click here.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Tufted Townsend Daisy-Townsendia scapigera

This attractive, low-lying daisy is tufted townsend daisy (Townsendia scapigera). It's found throughout the Great Basin, growing in openings in sagebrush.

For more information about tufted townsend daisy, click here.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Whitestem Blazingstar-Mentzelia albicaulis

I saw this little yellow flower growing on sandy soil and was confounded by what it was. Part of the confusion is that it's a new family for this blog, the Loasa Family (Loasaceae), and this is whitestem blazing star (Mentzelia albicaulisi).

It has five yellow petals and is found throughout western North America.
For more info about whitestem blazingstar, click here.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ballhead Ipomopsis-Ipomopsis congesta

I've seen quite a few flowers blooming that I blogged about last year, so it's taken a little searching to find some new ones for the second season of A Plant a Day. And a little time to do a post!

This is Ipomopsis congesta, also called manyflowered gilia and ball headed gilia. It is rather inconspicuous, lying close to the ground, with flowers in clusters at the end of long, spreading stems.

For more info, click here.