Autumn 2011
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Desert Mistletoe
December 18, 2011

      This image shows a close up view of the berry of Desert Mistletoe (Phoradendron californicum). There are a few members of the Mistletoe Family (Viscaceae) that grow in the Death Valley area, but most mistletoes are found growing at higher elevations. Desert Mistletoe is encountered at elevations between 0 and 4000 feet. In fact, the picture displayed here was taken near Hall Canyon on the floor of Panamint Valley. (Click here for more info!)

Redray Alpinegold
November 27, 2011

      Redray Alpinegold is particularly striking because of it's deep orange or deep red flowers. The flowers have the typical daisy-like configuration common to many members of the Sunflower Family (formerly known as the Compositae, now known as the Asteraceae) with up to sixty ray flowers. The only place I've encountered Redray Alpinegold is along the crest of the Panamint Range between Porter Peak and Sentinel Peak. This happens to be the location of the Happy Canyon Fire which occurred during July 2000. (Click here for more info!)

Prickly Poppy
November 13, 2011

      Prickly Poppy (Argemone corymbosa) is extremely common in the Death Valley area. The large white flower is quite attractive, although the plant it grows on, admittedly, does look a little weed-like, with its prickly leaves and somewhat ragged appearance. Although prickly poppy is likely to be found growing just about anywhere in the Death Valley area between 1200 and 4000 feet in elevation, it is particularly impressive near sand dunes where large colonies of the plant sometimes occur. (Click here for more info!)

Witch's Hair
October 30, 2011

      Witch's Hair is just one of several common names -- including devil's guts, goldthread, hairweed, angel hair, and a few others -- for what is usually called dodder, or somewhat more formally Cuscuta. There are actually five species of Cuscuta that grow in the Death Valley area. They are all yellow or orange parasitic vines that suck the life out of other plants. Recently, as a result of genetic analysis, Witch's Hair has been moved from the Cuscutaceae to the Convolvulaceae, otherwise known as the bindweed or morning glory family. Witch's Hair is quite common and in case you've never seen it (Click here for more info!)

Datura
October 16, 2011

      Also known as Jimson Weed, as well as a few other names, this is one of the most spectacular flowers found in the Death Valley area. Back in September of 2006, I posted a video on YouTube featuring lots of close up shots of the big white, trumpet-shaped flowers produced by this beautiful plant. The video was called "Moonflower" and it is a parody of an old Cat Stevens song. Datura is famous for it's hallucinogenic properties. However, the plant is extremely poisonous and it's a really, really bad idea to attempt to experience a cheap high by ingesting this plant! (Click here for more info!)

Alpine Columbine
October 02, 2011

      Probably the most spectacular wildflower that I was lucky enough to photograph this last summer were some specimens of Alpine Columbine (Aquilegia pubescens) observed while hiking in the Sierra Nevadas. Although a close relative, Mojave Columbine (Aquilegia formosa), does grow within the boundaries of Death Valley National Park, Alpine Columbine is not found within park boundaries. The flowers of the two species of Columbine are quite similar. Both have distinctive nectar spurs and the same overall shape, but the most obvious difference is that Alpine Columbine is white and Mojave Columbine is red. (Click here for more info!)


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