WILDFLOWERS OF THE
March 17 1988
CALIFORNIA: San Bernardino County
Off CA Hwy. 247 about 15 miles north of
Not until last night's
darkness came and the valley below filled with glimmerings of security lamps and car
headlights did I realize that we had settled on a perch. On Henry's three high sides lie
large boulders but I have a good view toward the north. Even knowing how densely the
valley below is populated, during the day gazing down there you don't see much of people,
and the view calms the spirit.
Upon this peaceful perch many
wildflowers are blossoming. I'm a little surprised at this. At 3000 feet we're higher than
we've usually been during this trip, and thus we should be "going backwards toward
winter." But the wildflowers say that this is the most springy place we've been.
Now, if we could see the landscape from fifty feet in the air, maybe
three-fourths of the ground between boulders would be naked soil. No Joshua-trees are here
but a smaller yucca relative is common. Appropriately, it's called the Mojave Yucca,
Yucca schidigera. Though not-yet-blossoming, Creosote-bushes
are present. The main woody shrubs, however, are two species of two-foot-tall bushes that
look very similar until studied from just inches away -- they're Burro-bush,
Ambrosia dumosa, and Blackbrush, Coleogyne ramosissima. The latter
is just beginning to flower with curious yellow blossoms about half an inch wide, bearing
many stamens but no petals.
One of the two inconspicuous species of cactus here is our seventh
species of the cholla group, the Diamond
Cholla, Opuntia ramosissima. It's a rather low, slender cactus with
diamond-shaped designs on its skin. The other cactus, similar to our earlier Blind
Pricklypear in Big Bend, is the spineless Common-beavertail,
Here various wildflower species frequently grow together in lush,
green communities two to six feet across and surrounded by naked sand. Also they grow
among shrubs' outstretching branches. Probably this latter location protects them from
browsing deer. One-fourth of the Mojave's plant species are endemic -- in the whole world
found only in the Mojave Desert.
Here is a list of the wildflowers found within fifty feet of Henry,
in the order in which I find them.
- WESTERN TANSY-MUSTARD,
Descurainia pinnata: Mustard Family. This species's yellow flowers are tiny and
insignificant-looking, but its fruits are long and slender, and jut away from the plant's
main axis causing the plant to suggest a green bottle-brush.
- MUSTARD EVENING-PRIMROSE, Camissonia californica:
Evening-Primrose Family. This was earlier found in the Imperial Dunes and apparently has
no common name.
- WALLACE'S WOOLLY-DAISY, Eriophyllum wallacei:
Composite Family. Outside Organ Pipe we saw the closely related (same genus) White-rayed
woolly-daisy. This yellow-flowered species is ¾-inch high.
cf. Phacelia crenulata: Waterleaf Family. The field guides mention many species
of phacelia but my violet-flowered specimen's leaves are unlike all those illustrated. If
I had to bet, I'd say that it's a form of the common, red-stemmed "Scalloped
Nama demissum: Waterleaf Family. Another "belly plant" only about
1-inch high but with a largish, rose-colored flower. Sticky glands cover its leaves.
Salvia columbariae: Mint Family. With parsley-like leaves (strange for the Mint
Family), this curious plant's tiny, purple, dog-faced flowers possess only two stamens
- REDSTEM STORKSBILL, Erodium cicutarium:
Geranium Family. Flowers pink. An alien, weedy species with long, needle-like fruits
sticking straight up.
- PINCUSHION, genus Chaenactis: Composite
Family. This Composite's white flowers are interesting because its blossoms' inner flowers
are tube-like, which is typical for Composites, but the outer ones are irregular (not flat
rays), looking a little like mint flowers.
COREOPSIS, Coreopsis douglasii: Composite Family. With typical,
yellow coreopsis blossoms, its leaves are mostly basal, with three threadlike lobes.
- ROUGH FIDDLENECK, Amsinckia menziesii var. intermedia:
Forget-Me-Not Family. Flowers yellow. We found this one just outside Organ Pipe Cactus
National Monument. It's special for its "helicoid cyme."
Links on this page were last updated on . If you find broken ones, please email me