Flower Design

Design: Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa)

Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa) is almost as ubiquitous as Creosote in the Colorado/Sonoran Desert. Their silvery leaves are instantly recognizable and, in the spring, fragrant golden yellow flowers emerge filling out the round, bushy plant.

Encelia farinosa was an interesting flower design to conceptualize. First, most people recognize Brittlebush by the shape of the plant and the color of its leaves. But it’s hard to depict on a, say, small logo. Plus, it was a great opportunity to illustrate a compound flower with ray and disc flowers!

Botanical Identification Flower Design

Design: Indigo Bush (Psorothamnus schottii)

The third botanical illustration features Indigo Bush, Psorothamnus schottii. This design was tricky in terms of color. It’s difficult to capture the blue-purple of the Indigo Bush flower. It’s even more difficult to print the color in CMYK! And depending on the paper, the colors appear either too dark or muddied.

Representing the androecium was also challenging (see our article on Indigo Bush details for a list of botanical terms). The artist was inspired by the lines of Erté in drawing the filaments.

A Perfumed Garden Botanical Identification Flowers of San Jacinto

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

Botanical Identification Flower Design

Design: Nemacladus Rubescens

The second design in the botanical illustration series of desert flowers: Nemacladus rubescens. This tiny flower sure does pack a punch!

Nemacladus rubescens
Nemacladus rubescens

There is SO much going on with this little flower. Just check out the Jepson Herbarium’s description of Nemacladus Rubescens.

While they are not “rare,” due to their size, they are hard to find. A great resource for locating California native plants is Calflora, which shows the distribution of Nemacladus Rubescens based on observations.

For amazing macro shots of Nemacladus and illustrations of its anatomy, check out (the appropriately subtitled) Minute Beautiful Wildflowers That Are Difficult To Photograph. The same website provides a possible explanation of the “glistening cells” that are so distinctive to Nemcladus. Possibly to attract insects, as seen by these bees and wasps.

But wait, there’s more! More photographs from a different siting location, Henderson Canyon. And then there are watercolor botanical illustrations of three species of Nemacladus, including rubescens. And multiple species of Nemacladus on Tom Chester’s website.

Happy Nemacladus!

Botanical Identification Stories

The Big Fagonia

A botanical geometry, by a maniacal geoffrey. Fagonia laevis (California fagonbush) has this awesome branching method with two leaves on the outside, followed inwardly by two sub-stalks, and then a bud/inflorescence/infructescence. Some of the pictures I’ve taken show two anthers out of eight being smooth, and the others all bumpy (for lack of a more scientific term). I’m not sure if this is a maturity issue or an anatomy issue.

Speaking of anatomy, let’s get technical. The Jepson Herbarium lists some information for Fagonia laevis, such as leaflet size (3-9 mm), petiole size (1-4 mm), flower size (1 cm), and information about the fruit. However, if you view the descriptions of the Higher Taxonomy, i.e., for the Genus: Fagonia and Family: Zygophyllaceae, there are more descriptions. (Get your glossary ready!)


The stem is spreading and angled.




There seems to be some mention of Fagonia in Ayurvedic medicine, but probably not the same species. Oh where, oh where is my DIY chromatography kit? Oh where, oh where can it be?

Botanical Identification

TLB Leaf Library

It is possible to download this .pdf here



Botanical Identification

Ambrosia Dumosa Inflorescence Test

Botanical Identification

Ambrosia Dumosa Leaf Test

Anatomy Botanical Identification

Köhler’s illustration of peppermint

And, for good measure, here’s the wiki page for peppermint! Very interesting stuff.  Peppermint’s a hybrid, it’s near impossible to pin down the exact nature of this voracious mint.  It’s been used by everyone, everywhere, since antiquity.  And, most importantly, don’t plant it in the ground.

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