Summer 2010
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Coyote Melon
September 19, 2010

      Coyote Melon is one of those plants that are likely to be found growing near springs since they need more water than is the case for many desert plants. The Argus Wilderness contains many springs and one of the places that I've found a large number of coyote melon plants is Water Canyon, the mouth of which is just below Slate Range Crossing. In fact, the specimens shown in my Coyote Melon (Plant Freak Song) video were found just a couple miles up the canyon. BTW, the seeds of this plant may have been used as a food source by local Native American groups. (Click here for more info!)

Gravel Ghost
September 05, 2010

      Gravel ghosts are also sometimes called parachute plants. This is because of the configuration of the inflorescence. The white flowers form in such a way as to suggest a parachute when they are exceptionally large and there is an abundance of them. The rest of the plant is practically invisible and as a result, when looked at from the right angle, the array of flowers resembles a parachute. (Click here for more info!)

Columbine
August 22, 2010

      Columbine is one of those plants you wouldn't expect to see in Death Valley National Park. It grows at higher elevations and it requires lots of water. However, Death Valley NP has a few localities that satisfy those requirements. A colony of columbine plants grows just up from Thompson Camp, which is located in Surprise Canyon in the Panamint Range. The colony is near a large water cistern. DeDecker claims that columbine also grows in the Inyo Range and the Grapevine Range. (Click here for more info!)

Purple Owl's Clover
August 08, 2010

      Purple Owl's Clover is a small plant, but upon close inspection it proves to be a rather interesting plant. The flowers form a spikelike cluster and are magenta to red, but yellow splotches form on some of the corollas giving the plant, when in bloom, a rather distinctive appearance! I came across a rather large colony of these plants between Fish and Isham Canyon in the Slate Range last spring. Other members of the Scrophulariaceae (Figwort Family) include Desert Paintbrush, Scarlet Monkeyflower, Lesser Mohavea, Panamint Penstemon, and Desert Figwort. (Click here for more info!)

Yerba Mansa
July 25, 2010

      If you travel the dirt road connecting the town of Darwin to Darwin Falls you will go by Miller's Spring. If you pass by during the right part of the year you will be treated to the sight of yerba mansa in bloom. These showy flowers seem out of place in the desert, but they are native to the area. However, the only place I've ever seen them is at Miller's Spring and they are entirely dependent a on steady supply of water. (Click here for more info!)

Wild Cabbage
July 11, 2010

      It's the inflated stems and not the flowers of this plant that are most likely to catch your attention, but the flowers are quite pretty if you take the time to look at them closely. Interestingly this plant is related to desert candle and jewelflower. These plants are in the Mustard Family along with some common desert plants such as spectacle-pod, prince's plume, and water cress. Also some plants we commonly eat such as broccoli, radishes, and cabbage are also in this family. You can expect to find wild cabbage growing in pinyon/juniper forests in the Death Valley area. (Click here for more info!)

Cushion Buckwheat
July 04, 2010

      While hiking in the White Top Mountain area in Death Valley National Park a couple weeks ago I noticed a small but interesting plant called Cushion Buckwheat (Eriogonum ovalifolium). The flowers caught my attention and upon close inspection I decided that they looked like candy. I'm not sure if I'd say that they looked more like little peppermint candies or red and white taffy, but I was almost tempted to pluck a flower cluster and try one out. It looked that good! I encountered these plants at 7700 feet near what is left of the Silver Crown Claims at the end of the road above the Huntley Mine Camp. (Click here for more info!)


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