I decided to take another trip to Death Valley to document the smaller flowers of the super bloom. The bloom changes over time, different species claim their place in the hierarchy. Although the photographs show many of the same plants at the same size, some are quite small. This year (2016) is an amazing year for Death Valley flowers since a super bloom is in progress. As a result, I am planning multiple visits to Death Valley to photograph the bloom in progress. The bloom is definitely moving north and higher in altitude. Although there are still expansive fields of Desert Gold (Geraea canescens) along the Badwater Road, as well as carpets of Sand Verbena (Abronia villosa) from Mile Marker 42 to the end of the road, many of the other flowers in this area are past their peak. Blooms will migrate up canyons and climb mountains as the air rapidly warms through spring. “When I first came to work here in the early 1990s, I kept hearing the old timers talk about super blooms as a near mythical thing,” says National Park Service employee Alan Van Valkenburg. “I saw several impressive displays of wildflowers over the years and always wondered how anything could beat them, until I saw my first super bloom in 1998. Then I understood.”
Notchleaf Phacelia (Phacelia crenulata) is an annual herb that is native to California. The foul-smelling plant can produce a skin rash similar to that produced by poison ivy. It’s common names include notch-leaf scorpion-weed, notch-leaved phacelia, cleftleaf wildheliotrope, and heliotrope phacelia. It is native to the southwestern United States as far east as Colorado and New Mexico, and Baja California and Sonora in Mexico. It is coated in stiff, glandular hairs. The leaves are 2 to 12 centimeters long, the largest occurring around the base of the stem and those higher on the stem much smaller. They are generally oblong in shape with wavy or lobed edges. The inflorescence is a coiled cyme of several flowers. The flower has a bell-shaped purple or blue corolla up to a centimeter long. The corolla has a white tube and sometimes a white throat.
Nama demissa (Purple Mat) is an annual flowering plant. It is known by the common name purplemat, or purple mat. Nama demissum grows to three inches high in a small patch of hairy glandular herbage. The flowers range from pinkish to purple. It blooms from February to May.
Golden Evening Primrose
Golden Evening Primrose (Camissonia brevipes) is a hairy plant with buttercup-like yellow flowers. These peculiar flowers bloom at sunrise instead of sunset. Chylismia brevipes is a species of wildflower native to the American desert southwest known by the common names yellow cups, Mojave suncup, and golden suncup. This hairy annual with tall stems, often reaching over half a meter in height, is surrounded by basal leaves which may be simple or composed of several leaflets. It produces an inflorescence which has one to several blooms in it. The flowers are bright yellow, often with reddish speckling at the base of each petal as seen above.
Golden Mohave Snapdragon
Golden Mohave Snapdragon (Mohavea breviflora) a dicot, is an annual herb that is native to California and is also found outside of California, but is confined to western North America. The alternately arranged leaves are lance-shaped. It is a hairy annual herb growing erect to a maximum height near 20 centimeters. Flowers occur in the leaf axils. They are about 2 centimeters wide and divided into an upper lip with two lobes and a swollen lower lip with three. The flower is yellow with scattered red speckles.
Reflexed Blazing Star
Mentzelia reflexa (Reflexed Blazing Star) is a species of flowering plant in the family Loasaceae known by the common name reflexed blazingstar. It is native to the Mojave Desert and adjacent mountain ranges in California and Nevada, where it grows in rocky habitat and sometimes disturbed areas. The abundant leaves are up to 10 centimeters long and toothed along the edges. The inflorescence is a cluster of flowers each with eight pale yellow petals.
Geraea canescens, commonly known as desert sunflower, hairy desert sunflower, or desert gold, is an annual plant in the family Asteraceae. “Geraea” in its scientific name comes from the Greek geraios (“old man”), referring to the white hairs on the fruits. Thanks to a rare autumn downpour and El Niño-generated winter rain, flowers already are springing up in the 3.4-million-acre Death Valley National Park, largest in the lower 48 states and the nation’s sixth largest overall. “There’s not a lot of variety yet,” Linda Slater, chief of interpretation for the park, said in an interview. “It’s dominated by Desert Gold.”
In the Forget-Me-Not Family (Boraginaceae), the genus Plagiobothrys is referred to as the Popcorn Flower. There are more than 40 species of this genus in California alone, all difficult to distinguish one from another. This slender, hairy plant grows 6 to 20 inches high. It has spatula-shaped leaves up to 4 inches in length, most of which emerge from a basal tuft. Leaves higher on the stem are smaller.
Chaenactis xantiana, the Mojave Pincushion or Xantus pincushion, is a flowering plant in the family Asteraceae, native to the western United States, from southeastern Oregon, Nevada, southern and eastern California and northwestern Arizona. It is very common in the Antelope Valley in the Mojave Desert, and grows in sandy soils.Desert Pincushion is a small, open plant that grows up to one foot high. It has fuzzy, 1/2 to 1-1/2 inch long leaves that are divided into short, narrow lobes. On top of the hairy flower stems, the flowers within each head vary in size, with the outside usually being markedly larger than the center ones. Various other pincushion (genus Chaenactis) species of the desert regions include: Esteve’s Pincushion, False Yarrow, Broad-leaved Chaenactis White, 1-inch, rallies, disk-like flowers with many petals bloom March through August, depending on latitude and elevation. Petals are sometimes tinged pink. Each floret produces a seed-like fruit with papery scales. They ar members of the Sunflower Family (Compositae). Pincushion flowers are common spring wildflowers throughout the North American deserts. These green, erect annuals are so named because they have discoid, rayless flower heads resembling the shape of a pincushion. They appear in all four of the North American deserts throughout California, Utah, Nevada, Arizona New Mexico, and northern Mexico.
Gravel Ghost (Atrichoseris platyphylla) has heads of white to purple-tinged flowers 1-inch across that appear to hover in the air because the stems that support them are tall and thin. Flowers are fragrant and readily withering. The leaves are brown spotted, flat and widely oval in shape, leaves grow in a rosette hugging the ground.
Desert Chicory (Rafinesquia neomexicana) is a species of flowering plant in the Asteraceae family (commonly called the Sunflower Family or Daisy Family). Common names include desert chicory, plumeseed, or New Mexico plumeseed. It has white showy flowers, milky sap, and weak, zigzag stems, that may grow up through other shrubs for support. It is an annual plant (completes its life cycle in a single season) found in dry climate areas of the southwestern deserts of the US and northwestern deserts of Mexico.
Chylismia claviformis is a species of wildflower known as browneyes or Brown-Eyed Primrose. It is an annual plant growing from a basal rosette of long oval leaves and producing stems often exceeding half a meter in height. On top of the stem is an inflorescence of one to many primrose blooms, each with four white or yellow petals. The pistil may be quite long and has a bulbous stigma at the tip. The stamens are somewhat shorter and they bear long hairy anthers containing white or yellow pollen. The floral axis at the junction of male and female parts is bright red to maroon or brown. This species is found across western North America from the Pacific Northwest to northern Mexico.
Shredding Primrose (Eremothera boothii) is a species of wildflower known as Booth’s evening primrose. This plant is native to the western United States and northwestern Mexico where it is most abundant in arid areas such as deserts. This is an annual plant with hairy reddish-green stems and mottled foliage. The stem ends in a nodding inflorescence of many small flowers which may be white to red or yellowish, often with darker shades on the external surfaces of the four spoon-shaped petals. They have long stamens with clublike yellowish anthers. Flowers of this species tend to open at dusk rather than dawn as in many other Camissonia.
As always, I hoped you enjoyed the post, please leave a comment.
Botanical Ramblings: https://botanicalramblings.com/2016/02/04/death-valley/
Popcorn Flowers: http://www.desertusa.com/flowers/popcorn-flowers.html
Purple Mat: http://eol.org/pages/39372/overview
National Park Service: http://www.nps.gov/deva/learn/nature/wildflower-update-2016.htm
Furnace Creek: http://www.furnacecreekresort.com/activities/wildflowers