Spring 2012
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Fireweed
June 17, 2012

      Fireweed is a plant with a showy flower that you're likely to run into in the Sierra Nevadas, but it also occurs at higher elevations in the Death Valley area. In fact, it may be found almost anywhere in temperate portions of the Northern Hemisphere! This plant is also known as Great Willowherb in Canada and is a member of the Evening Primrose Family (which is also sometimes referred to as the Willowherb Family). In any case, while common names may change depending on any number of factors, scientific names are a little more stable and this plant is classified as Epilobium angustifolium of the plant family known as Onagraceae. (Click here for more info!)

Transmontane Sand Verbena
June 03, 2012

      There are four species of Sand Verbena that grow in the Death Valley area. The one pictured here is Transmontane Sand Verbena (Abronia turbinata) of the Four O'Clock Family (Nyctaginaceae). A common feature of all species of Sand Verbena are the clusters of small flowers, ranging in color from white to pink to magenta. Also, as implied by the name, these plants tend to thrive in sandy soil. The specimen of Sand Verbena shown here was found growing in the Coso Wilderness (see bottom section of this page for more information). (Click here for more info!)

Yucca
May 20, 2012

      Yucca brevifolia is the scientific name for Joshua tree, also known as tree yucca. Although they are not actually trees, they do attain the tree-like size of approximately thirty feet in height, which accounts for their common name. These plants do not bloom every year and so finding a specimen producing flowers is not always easy. The cream-colored flowers form in dense clusters and produce an almost sickeningly sweet odor! (Click here for more info!)

Panamint Dudleya
May 06, 2012

      Even when not in flower, Panamint Dudleya is a neat little plant. The grayish-green, succulent leaves are quite unusual compared to most other plants that you're likely to come across while exploring the Death Valley area. Also known as Panamint Liveforever, this plant is likely to be found growing in the Panamint Range, although it is also found throughout southern California and into Baja California and Arizona. Johnson Canyon, on the east side of the Panamint Range, has a particular abundance of the plant as well as other interesting features that makes it especially worth visiting. (Click here for more info!)

Rothrock's Nama
April 22, 2012

      The spherical inflorescence of Rothrock's Nama is somewhat unusual and most hikers probably at least stop to inspect the balls of purplish flowers, especially if they encounter them in a particularly arid setting. This wildflower plant, also known as Rothrocks' Fiddleleaf, is native to eastern California and parts of Nevada and Arizona, growing at elevations generally above 5500 feet. This low-growing plant forms colonies due to its habit of spreading via rhizomes. The only place that I've encountered Rothrock's Nama, so far, is in Bendire Canyon, which is located in the Argus Range. (Click here for more info!)

Joshua Tree
April 08, 2012

      Joshua tree forests are scattered all over the Death Valley area. In fact, they are likely to be found throughout the park anywhere the altitude is between 4000 and 6000 feet. Of course, there are some populations of Joshua trees that grow outside these parameters. For instance, there are plenty of Joshua trees on Malpais Mesa growing at up to 7700 feet. BTW, not everyone knows that the famous Joshua tree that appeared on the cover of the "Joshua Tree" album by the rock band U2 was photographed just outside Death Valley National Park, not too far from the town of Darwin. (Click here for more info!)


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