Autumn 2012
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Inyo Milkvetch
December 30, 2012

      There are many members of the Astragalus genus which grow in the Death Valley area. In fact, Mary DeDecker in her book cataloging plants found in the Northern Mojave Desert lists twenty-five species of Astagalus, plus several varieties. Included in my online collection are seven species of milkvetch which I have found growing in the Death Valley area. The easiest way to locate the pages for all seven is to simply click on the List by scientific name link at the top of the Death Valley Area Plants page. (Click here for more info!)

Wishbone Bush
December 16, 2012

      Wishbone Bush is one of the many plants that have been reclassified in recent years thanks to the analysis of plant genomes. Formerly, it was classified as Mirabilis bigelovii, but now it is known as Mirabilis laevis. Although many plants have been reclassified as members of new families or put into different genera, Wishbone Bush has only become included as a member of a new species. Sometimes the adjustment made as a result of genetic analysis is large and sometimes it is small, and sometimes genetic analysis only confirms that the current classification is appropriate. (Click here for more info!)

Sandpaper Plant
December 02, 2012

      Sandpaper Plant (Petalonyx thurberi) is one of the few plants that can be counted on to produce flowers during the summer at elevations below 4000 feet in the Death Valley area. In fact, it blooms from May to September and sometimes even into November. The small, white flowers form in clusters and although they may not be spectacular, they are quite attractive. A slight problem with this plant is that its dried leaves can sometimes adhere to clothing and can be quite difficult to detach from said clothing. For this reason, Velcro Plant is a nickname sometimes used for this plant! (Click here for more info!)

Twistflower
November 18, 2012

      There are several members of the Mustard Family which produce interesting flowers. The Heart-Leaf Twistflower (Streptanthus cordatus) produces flowers consisting of a sepal which is green, yellow, or maroon, with petals which are brownish-purple or maroon. Blooming from May to July, the Twistflower is likely to be found in the Inyo, Panamint, Grapevine, or Last Chance mountains in the Death Valley area. Otherwise it grows throughout the Great Basin region at elevations between 5800 and 10000 feet. (Click here for more info!)

Fern Bush
November 04, 2012

      Also known as desert sweet and tansy bush, fern bush is primarily encountered at higher elevations. It may be found in mountainous areas in and around Death Valley at elevations above 6800 feet. The fernlike foliage is obviously the reason this plant is called fern bush and when there are no flowers present it appears to be an unlikely member of the Rose Family, but once flowers are present it's easy to see the family resemblance. (Click here for more info!)

Yerba Mansa
October 21, 2012

      As a member of the Lizard's Tail Family (Saururaceae), Yerba Mansa is every bit as unusual as you might expect. The large flower cone is actually a cluster of small flowers and what appear to be petals are actually modified leaves (called bracts) which just happen to be white. Helping colonies of this plant to spread are rhizomes from which new plants sprout as long as there is sufficient water. Yerba mansa is not encountered often in the Death Valley area since it can only flourish near springs or other sources of water, but there are a few spots where large colonies can be found. (Click here for more info!)

Brickellia
October 07, 2012

      Mary DeDecker in her book about the Flora of the Northern Mojave Desert lists ten species of Brickellia that are native to the Death Valley area. Also, there are thirteen species of Brickellia listed in The Jepson Desert Manual. So, one way or the other, there are quite a few different species of Brickellia to be found in the Death Valley area. A problem with this genus is that some of the species contained in it are difficult to differentiate. Also many would regard the flowers produced by these plants as less than spectacular. Just the same this is an interesting genus and at this time there are six species of Brickellia included in the plant collection at the Death Valley Plants website:
Spearleaved Brickellia
California Brickellia
Desert Brickellbush
Inyo Bricklebush
Pinyon Brickellia
Sweet Brickellia


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