Death Valley Tally

Between late afternoon of March 7 and about noon on March 10, I photographed 44 different species of flowering plants in Death Valley National Park. I stayed mostly on the east side, going as far south as Badwater and as far north as Ubehebe crater.

above, desert gold, aka desert sunflower (Geraea canescens, Asteraceae), along Beatty Road

This was a few days past the peak of the superbloom, but as the first photo shows there was still plenty to see. What it doesn’t show is the incredible diversity of flowers. There are at least four readily identifiable plants in the second photo, not including the “belly flowers” that are about as ubiquitous as ubiquitous can be in a desert.

Almost 900 pictures later and hours spent identifying and studying these plants, here are the stats for my fellow flower nerds.

Not counting the six I have yet to identify, there were 38 species in 34 different genera in 17 different families.

Asteraceae aster family
Ambrosia dumosa (burrobush; burro weed; white bursage)
Anisocoma acaulis (scale bud)
Atrichoseris platyphylla (gravel ghost; parachute plant)
Chaenactis carphoclinia (pebble pincushion)
Eriophyllum wallacei (woolly daisy; woolly easterbonnets)
Geraea canescens  (desert sunflower; hairy desert sunflower; desert gold)
Malacothrix glabrata (desert dandelion; smooth desert dandelion
Monoptilon bellioides (desert star; Mojave desert star)
Perityle emoryi  (rock daisy; Emory’s rock daisy)
Peucephyllum schottii (sprucebush; pygmycedar; Schott’s pygmycedar)
Psathyrotes ramosissima (turtleback; velvet turtleback)
Rafinesquia neomexicana (desert chicory; New Mexico plumeseed)

Boraginaceae borage family
Amsinckia tessellata (checker fiddleneck; western fiddleneck; bristly fiddleneck)
Cryptantha muricata* (pointed cryptantha; prickly cryptantha; pointed catseye)
Nama demissum (purplemat; leafy nama)

Cactaceae cactus family
Echinocactus polycephalus (cotton-top cactus)
Opuntia basilaris (beavertail)

Hydrophyllaceae waterleaf family
Phacelia calthifolia (caltha-leaved phacelia)
Phacelia crenulata (notch-leaved phacelia or scorpionweed; cleftleaf wildheliotrope; caterpillarweed)
Phacelia fremontii (Fremont’s phacelia or scorpion-weed)

Lamiaceae mint family
Salvia funerea (Death Valley sage; woolly sage)

Loasaceae loasa family
Mentzelia species (blazing stars)
Mentzelia reflexa (Death Valley, Panamint, or reflexed blazing star)

Malvaceae mallow family
Eremalche rotundifolia (desert five-spot)
Sphaeralcea ambigua (globemallow; desert mallow; desert globemallow)

Nyctaginaceae four o’clock family
Anulocaulis annulatus (sticky-ringstem; valley ringstem)

Onagraceae evening-primrose family
Chylismia brevipes [formerly Camissonia brevipes] (yellowcups; golden evening-primrose)
Chylismia claviformis ssp. claviformis [formerly Camissonia claviformis] (brown-eyed evening-primrose; browneyes)
Eremothera boothii ssp. condensata [formerly Camissonia boothii ssp. condensata] (shredding evening-primrose; shredding suncup)

Orobanchaceae broomrape family
Castilleja applegatei ssp. martinii* [formerly placed in Scrophulariaceae – figwort family] (wavyleaf, desert, or pine paintbrush or Indian paintbrush)

Papaveraceae poppy family
Eschscholzia glyptosperma (Mojave gold poppy; desert poppy; desert goldenpoppy)

Phrymaceae lopseed family
Mimulus bigelovii [formerly placed in Scrophulariaceae] (Bigelow monkeyflower)

Plantaginaceae plantain family
Mohavea breviflora [formerly placed in Scrophulariaceae] (lesser mohavea; golden desert snapdragon)

Polemoniaceae phlox family
Gilia cana ssp. speciformis (broad-flowered, desert, or showy gilia)
Aliciella latifolia ssp. latifolia [formerly Gilia latifolia] (broad-leaved gilia)

Polygonaceae buckwheat family
Eriogonum inflatum (desert trumpet)

Solanaceae nightshade family
Physalis crassifolia (yellow nightshade groundcherry; thickleaf groundcherry)

Zygophyllaceae caltrop family
Larrea tridentata (creosote bush)

*some doubt about id

two “belly flowers” growing together (77mm lens cap for scale)

First Signs of Spring

A week ago, word was that spring beauties were up, but I haven’t seen them yet. I’ve been watching for skunk cabbage – usually the first wildflower around here to bloom – but haven’t found it yet, either.

So on Sunday afternoon, before departing for the West for a few days, I took a quick walk on the Cabin John, hoping but not expecting to find something blooming. I did see spotted wintergreen plants,


and princess pine, as expected.  Then I decided to go up a side trail and see if round-lobed hepatica was still there (the leaves persist through winter).  It was.  I carefully moved a few beech leaves aside to get a clear picture, then I noticed this:


New buds popping up! They should be blooming by now.  The first wildflowers of 2016, at least in this area.

I’m hastily typing this post from a diner in Pahrump, Nevada. Wondering what I’m doing there?  Ever heard the phrase “superbloom”? I have hundreds of photos to go through, and it will take days, but expect a few Death Valley posts over the next month.

Off hunting!