Odds and Ends

Two more plants I found blooming in Death Valley. At first I found neither of them interesting, but the more I read – or the more closely I looked – the more I liked them.

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sticky ringstem, valley ringstem
Anulocaulis annulatus
Nyctaginaceae

This plant is endemic to the Mojave desert. It’s a perennial with a shrub-like growth habit. The flowers are quite small; you really have to zoom in to see them.

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yellow nightshade groundcherry
Physalis crassifolia
Solanaceae

There are several plants producing edible fruits in the genus Physalis: tomatillo and Cape gooseberry. Also “groundcherry”, which I’ve seen on menus (and my plate) in trendy restaurants, but I’d hesitate to say that this particular groundcherry is one of the edible ones. As with the Apiaceae, the Solanaceae (deadly nightshade family) has some tasty, culinarily important species as well as poisonous ones.

This range of P. crassifolia is limited to the desert southwest. Like sticky ringstem, it’s a perennial with a shrub-like growth habit.

Have a look at this abstract from the Journal of Natural Products; it seems that P. crassifolia can produce compounds showing “potent antiproliferative activity” that may some day be used for treating certain cancers.

 

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