Indigo Bush (Psorothamnus schottii) Details

It’s hard to see or describe what’s going on inside an Indigo Bush (Psorothamnus schottii) flower. Probably because it’s hidden inside the keel of the flower. But you’ll definitely notice the bright orange anthers sticking out against the deep blue/purple of the petals.

Indigo Bush (Psorothamnus schottii) flower color

Indigo Bush (Psorothamnus schottii) flower color

Detailed technical description of Indigo Bush

The online Jepson Herbarium provides a cursorial description. Surprisingly, the New York Botanic Garden website contains an article with a fantastic and technical description of Psorothamnus schottii. Though I, personally, still can’t make heads or tails of it—at least, not without a glossary nearby! And even then…

In trying to figure out what’s going on the inside of this little flower, we had to expand our search to the entire pea (Fabaceae) family. If you’re interested, here’s a valuable resource with pictures, including the reproductive organs. Generally, Fabaceae flowers contain 10 stamens (the male organ) and a simple pistil (female organ) comprising a single style and stigma. (If you look at the picture below, it’s the little green tip poking out from the keel).

Indigo Bush (Psorothamnus schottii) flower with the style peeking through

Indigo Bush (Psorothamnus schottii) flower with the style peeking through

According to Barneby, the androecium contains filaments (the long stalk part of the stamen under then anther) free for half their length. This suggests that the filaments fuse for half their length (at the bottom, if my pictures are accurate). Which is in line with other flowers in the Fabaceae family.

And what the heck is anther-connective gland-tipped vs glandless???

Main attributes of Psorothamnus schottii flowers

So, the main attributes to keep in mind for Indigo Bush flowers are:

  • 5 deep blue petals
    • The banner (back) with a yellow eye at the base
    • Wings on either side that are slightly longer than the banner
    • Keel (2 petals), which encapsulates the androecium and pistil, that is slightly longer or shorter than the wings
  • The unique venation pattern on the petals
  • The androecium consisting of stamens with orange anthers on white filaments
  • A simple pistil with two ovules (which are not visible)
  • Obconic hypanthium – a structure where basal portions of the calyx, the corolla, and the stamens form a cup-shaped tube. From the Hypanthium article on Wikipedia
Indigo Bush (Psorothamnus schottii) yellow eye at base of banner

Indigo Bush (Psorothamnus schottii) yellow eye at base of banner

By |2020-08-06T15:49:23-08:00September 21st, 2018|Categories: A Perfumed Garden, Botanical Identification, Flowers of San Jacinto|Tags: , , |Comments Off on Indigo Bush (Psorothamnus schottii) Details

Nemacladus tenuis

If we could have a small area in our garden dedicated to Nemacladus, including Nemacladus tenuis, we would! These little wildflowers have A LOT of personality.

Nemacladus tenuis, close up

Nemacladus tenuis, close up

These pictures don’t do it justice, but the Nemacladus rubescens that G took with his 1:1 macro lens does. They have little faces and features inside the flower that are astounding considering how tiny this flower is (at a mere few millimeters).

You can see the scale of the entire plant with my Ollo Clip macro lens from my iPhone5. The Nemacladus glanduliferus is about the same size as well.

Nemacladus tenuis, the plant

Nemacladus tenuis, the plant

All of the Nemacladus flowers that we found were just flowering when we photographed them back in March of 2017. Otherwise, I would’ve collected seeds…

UPDATE! April 2019

We found these Nemacladus tenuis beauties at Joshua Tree National Park. The entire plant is just bushier because of all the rain. And look at ALL the flowers!

Overview of Nemacladus tenuis

Overview of Nemacladus tenuis


Side view of Nemacladus tenuis

Side view of Nemacladus tenuis


Front view of Nemacladus tenuis

Front view of Nemacladus tenuis (1)


Front view of Nemacladus tenuis

Front view of Nemacladus tenuis (2)


By |2019-08-07T17:01:57-08:00May 23rd, 2018|Categories: Botanical Identification, Flowers of San Jacinto|Tags: , , , |Comments Off on Nemacladus tenuis

Nemacladus glanduliferus

As with all tiny flowers, the Nemacladus glanduliferus was hard to capture on camera, especially with an iPhone camera! The lightest breeze or breath will send it quivering. But it sure is pretty.

It seems that all the flowers in this genus (and by all, I mean the three species we’ve found) share similar qualities in that they have some very interesting features inside the flower. As much as I love my Ollo clip macro lens, it doesn’t quite compare to a real macro lens. Like G’s 1:1 macro lens which he used to capture Nemacladus rubescens.

Nemacladus glanduliferus, close up

This particular plant grew a few feet from another Nemacladus, the Nemacladus tenuis, and in the same general area as the Nemacladus rubescens.

The entire plant is tiny! I didn’t include anything for scale, but if you look at the post for Nemacladus tenuis, you’ll see that I included my Ollo Clip macro lens for the iPhone5.

Nemacladus glanduliferus, the plant

By |2019-08-07T17:02:05-08:00May 23rd, 2018|Categories: A Perfumed Garden, Botanical Identification, Flowers of San Jacinto|Tags: , , , , |Comments Off on Nemacladus glanduliferus

Fagonia laevis flower

Who would’ve thought that this little shrub would pack such a punch in terms of fragrance! Fagonia laevis, a native to California, is a cousin of the Creosote bush. It blooms from March to May and grows in a most symmetrical pattern. Fagonia grows along rocky hillsides (like the mountain next to us) and sandy washes.

By |2019-03-09T12:47:39-08:00May 17th, 2018|Categories: A Perfumed Garden, Botanical Identification, Desert Gallery, Flowers of San Jacinto|Tags: , , , , |Comments Off on Fagonia laevis flower

There’s no flower like Snowflower, like no flower I know…

The Snow flower, or Snow plant, (Sarcodes sanguinea) inhabits mountainous regions from Oregon down to California. They are found growing near conifers as a parasitic plant that derives nutrients from the mycorrhizal fungi attached to the roots of trees.

We normally see them popping up around this time (and earlier) up at Mount San Jacinto State Park. They are hard to miss with their vibrant red color amidst a floor of dried pine needles! Our friend Luis spotted this one from over 100 feet away.

By |2019-03-09T12:47:50-08:00May 14th, 2018|Categories: Botanical Identification, Desert Gallery, Flowers of San Jacinto|Tags: , , , , , , |Comments Off on There’s no flower like Snowflower, like no flower I know…

Sandpaper Plant

Sandpaper plant flower clusters

Every spring, we look forward to finding new wildflowers as well as re-visiting our favorites. And the Sandpaper plant (Petalonyx thurberi) is one of our absolute favs! First, the Sandpaper plant is native to California and it gets its name from it’s sandpaper-y feel. The flowers, which start blooming in May, are all bundled up at the tips and smell absolutely amazing! It reminds me of my first, and the original, Cabbage Patch Kid doll. I realize this is a most obscure reference so, suffice it to say, the scent is almost like a sweet baby powder. The fragrance fills the air as you walk past it and you can’t help but stop and lean down to smell it, or at the very least, drink in the fragrant air.

G smelling Sandpaper plant in bloom

Whenever we smell something so amazing, we automatically think about obtaining the essential oil. And why not? After all, we have our home essential oil steam distillation kit. Since the flowers are teeny, we’d need A LOT of material. So that’s what we were out doing today—reconnaissance. The flowers don’t seem quite ready as there are still many unopened buds at the tip. But, soon; very, very soon. And as with all of our essential oil steam distillations, how do we test for compounds? That’s where gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS) comes in. Except, we don’t own said machine (due to the $$$ price tag) and most GC-MS tests cost $300 a pop, per sample. The other unknown is how much oil can be extracted from 8 cups of material. To perform a GC-MS analysis, we would need perhaps 1-3 mL. So…that leads to our next pursuit.

How do we propagate Sandpaper plant?! This is not a plant you can pick up at your local nursery or home improvement store. Is it best to propagate by cutting, transplanting a young plant, or by seed? There isn’t a whole lot of information on the Internet, but I did find an outstanding resource through the Native Plant Network from Reforestation, Nurseries, and Genetics Research (RNGR). They provide very specific protocols for seed propagation! Hello! This is exactly what we were looking for. Thank you RNGR! We know what we’ll be doing in a few weeks time…


By |2019-03-09T12:48:01-08:00May 8th, 2018|Categories: Desert Gallery, Flowers of San Jacinto|Tags: , , , , , , , |Comments Off on Sandpaper Plant

Karla Karlarificibilitudinitatibus

…If I were to find a new plant species, that’s what I would name it! Of course, this little beauty (and I do mean little) already has a name: Nemacladus rubescens, more ‘commonly’ known as Desert Nemacladus or Desert Threadplant. The Nemacladus rubescens that we found in Box Canyon (Mecca, CA) was about 2.5″ tall and flowers were approximately 1/16″ wide! Such incredible detail for such a tiny, tiny flower. Notice the glass-like sticks (the pistils?). When you tilt the flower up to sunlight, these little “sticks” reflect the light, like facets of a diamond. Incredible!

These tiny flowers are affectionately called “belly flowers,” because you have to get on your belly to see them!

Around the same area (er, Box Canyon), we found two more flowers in the Nemacladus genus: Nemacladus glanduliferus and Nemacladus tenuis.

By |2019-03-09T12:48:09-08:00March 18th, 2017|Categories: A Perfumed Garden, Botanical Identification, Desert Gallery, Flowers of San Jacinto|Tags: , , , , , |Comments Off on Karla Karlarificibilitudinitatibus

Little White Desert Flowers

Karla and I are at it again! This time, at the Randall Henderson Trail in the Santa Rosa & San Jacinto Mountains National Monument. Today, we’re going for 32 bit HDR… I’m not even sure what that stands for, but WE LOVE IT!!! The image file is HUGE.

We found this delicate little white desert flower along the trail. Thanks to our friend at Friends of the Desert Mountains, we now know this is little flower is Ditaxis lanceolata. It appears that Ditaxis doesn’t have a common name…

Pointed, star-shaped, five-petaled flower with fuzzy silvery, green leaves. It was so bright that the flowers were almost invisible (plus, they’re tiny). It’s amazing that we continue to spot new species of wildflowers every time we go hiking.

Also, on the trail today, we tried our first mammalaria fruits. They were reddish-orange… small… and seedy… but yummy (though Karla asked, are they supposed to be “slightly slimy?”).

Updated on October 22, 2016

By |2019-07-19T09:43:33-08:00April 4th, 2016|Categories: Botanical Identification, Flowers of San Jacinto|Tags: , , , , , , , , |Comments Off on Little White Desert Flowers

Prickly Pear Cactus Flower

The most collaboration we’ve put into a picture yet! I’m working the camera, and Karla’s working the Ipad remote, checking the focus and exposure, so that we could combine multiple images into this interpretive HDR. Our new Sony a6000 rocks… seriously.

For months, G and I hiked up the mountains looking at flowers and identifying ‘new’ species (new to us). Each hike took a few hours…with the backpack…the camera…camera equipment…snacks…and water…lots of water. We would set our at dawn and, sometimes, return home in the afternoon. No, we are not crazy; but we are, dedicated.

So imagine our surprise when we spotted this beauty in the Sculpture Garden at the Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert. Since we were in picture taking mode, we brought our camera and equipment everywhere.


Mood Indigo

We finally got it (Indigo Bush) right! Karla picked the flower she wanted to see, and we worked together to get it perfect. For shots like these, we agree that a macro rail would be handy… And add a few pounds of camera gear. Oi….

For more technical details about Indigo Bush, see our article on Psorothamnus schottii.

Barrel Cactus, up the hill.



So we went crazy today, all the way to the top of shadow mountain! Wow, does the flora change with the altitude.  No ocotillos yet though. Everything blooming is getting ready to go! Blooming! Hopefully the rain coming in the next few days won’t damage too much. On that note, the wind today coming down the mountain was a little scary… These flowers are a lot tougher than they look.



I’m hooked on this contrast between the flowers and the needles (no pun intended). The needles have such a design-y quality, with their ridges, and muted colors. A very fitting contrast to the super-saturation of the flowers.



It would be nice to be able to keep up with all the taxonomy, but where to begin? Hmm… How’s about, Barrel Cactus, Ferocactus cylindraceus?




By |2018-08-20T16:50:32-08:00March 6th, 2016|Categories: Botanical Identification, Flowers of San Jacinto|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |Comments Off on Barrel Cactus, up the hill.

Yellow flowers, blue hours

The light was incredible this morning, but that didn’t stop me from getting frustrated with the wind (a noble pursuit). I think before sunrise is good for pictures. After sunrise is good for video, especially if the flowers are small and moving too much for the macro lens.


Yellow flowers, blue hour: close-up of Caesalpinia virgata

Yellow flowers, blue hour: close-up of Caesalpinia virgata

We were able to get some decent shots after sunrise on stalks that were a little sturdier. The sunrise itself was an almost spiritual event; the warmth of the sun, then the gentle breeze rolling up the hill, that set all these little flower spirits to dance.

Closed Caesalpinia virgata flowers

Closed Caesalpinia virgata flowers

The gentle curl of Caesalpinia virgata's top petal and sepals

The gentle curl of Caesalpinia virgata’s top petal and sepals