Ah, Sweetbush (Bebbia juncea). I’m not sure how it got its name, but it is a very sweet smelling flower. It’s bushy with lots of thin stalks and deep yellow-colored inflorescence at the tip. Apparently, a favorite food of chuckwallas!
A classic shot of sand verbena (Abronia villosa) growing by the road. As its name suggests, it grows in sand! And the smell is AMAZING!!! When you come across a cluster of them, the flowers perfume the air.
We went to Coachella Valley Preserve looking for Loeseliastrum schottii and Desert Five Spot when we spotted this little guy: Erodium texanum. While the leaves have beautiful detail, it was the “inside” of the flower that caught our eye. A super sexy stigma surrounded by anthers that were just beginning to open…
An overview of the plant and flower. I love the petals on the ground—like breadcrumbs leading your eyes to the flower…
The flower and bud underneath. The petals look almost crinkled.
Ooh, and the sexy stigma surrounded by anthers/stamens.
A close-up of the sepals.
A side shot of the flower and plant.
When we camped up on Thomas Mountain a couple weeks ago, we saw a fuzzy plant near our tent that was just starting to bud. We had no idea what it was. Actually, we still have no idea what it is, even after returning to find the flower!
And that’s not all that’s flowering up the mountain. We captured what we could and will return to take more pictures.
One of the first flowers we encountered was this pink flower. It looks like a primrose… It was early in the morning (and cold) so it wasn’t fully open.
Next, we saw a cluster of these little yellow flowers. I’m pretty sure it’s not chinchweed…
As we drove up higher, we saw manzanitas blooming and this small tree covered in blue flowers. They were fragrant, if not a wee bit stinky.
At the peak of Thomas Mountain, we saw:
Geoff’s mystery flower with the downy-soft leaves.
This flower that reminds me of wood sorrel in Maine.
I forget the name of this mustard-like flower, which we’ve seen up in Mount San Jacinto State Park.
We had our picnic at a campsite at the peak, walked around, then headed back down the mountain. Of course we stopped and took more pictures of wildflowers…duh!
On the way down, we saw one side of the mountain covered in these blue flowers, poking out amongst the lupine leaves.
Nearby were these monkey flowers? They look like the monkey flowers from Mount San Jacinto State Park, but bigger.
As we’re driving down, we stop again for these purple flowers!
And these desert dandelions?!
And, one of my favorite little flowers, the gilia. But which gilia?
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.
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.
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…
Blooming rosy apricot mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) and burrow bush (Ambrosia dumosa).
One of the sacred herbs in native American cultures and just plain gorgeous.
Datura wrightii (Jimson weed) filmed in Box Canyon. A very beautiful, yet toxic plant. No touchy…
…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!
We think Nicotiana Obtusifolia, and Encelia Farinosa… Hmm. Notice the clasped leaf structure. An early flower-er.
Nicotiana obtusifolia M. Martens & GaleottiNATIVE
Habit: Perennial herb 2–8 dm, glandular-hairy, base often +- woody. Leaf: 2–10 cm; lower short-petioled, (ob)ovate; upper +- narrowly ovate, clasping. Inflorescence: bracts < 20 mm, linear to lanceolate. Flower: calyx 10–15 mm, lobes +- = tube, +- equal, narrowly triangular; corolla +- funnel-shaped, green-white or dull white, tube + throat 15–26 mm, limb 8–10 mm wide; stamens unequal, attached near tube base. Fruit: 8–10 mm.
Ecology: Gravelly or rocky washes, slopes; Elevation: < 1600 m. Bioregional Distribution: s SNE, D; Distribution Outside California: to Utah, Texas, Mexico. Flowering Time: Mar–Jun
Synonyms: Nicotiana trigonophylla Dunal
eFlora Treatment Author: Michael H. Nee~from The Jepson Herbarium