Fremont’s Phacelia (Phacelia fremontii)

Fremont’s Phacelia (Phacelia fremontii) is a small delicate looking flowering plant commonly commonly found in the southwestern United States including Nevada, Arizona and California. The flower is named for John C. Fremont who was the 5th Governor of the Arizona Territory as well as a soldier, explorer and first Republican Candidate for President of the United States.

Fremont's Phacelia (Phacelia fremontii) photographed in Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada
Fremont’s Phacelia (Phacelia fremontii) photographed in Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

The Phacelia is a small annual plant which only grows to a height of 12 inches. The small flowers are funnel or bell shape and typically blue or lavender with a yellow throat and between 7 and 15 mm in size. The throat is typically crossed with purple veins to offer a wonderful contrast against the yellow throat. The deeply lobbed leaves are oblong in shape.

Fremont’s Phacelia is known to grow in the Mojave Desert, Sierra Nevada and the above photograph was taken in Valley of Fire State Park near the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. The little plant commonly grows in gravelly or sandy soils and flowers between March and June each spring and may be found at elevations up to 8000 feet.

Fremonts Phacelia is named for John C. Frémont - 5th Governor of the Arizona Territory
John C. Frémont – 5th Governor of the Arizona Territory

Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja miniata)

The Giant Red Indian Paintbrush or Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja miniata) is a wildflower and perennial which is quite common in the western United States, including California, Nevada and Utah. The genus Castilleja contains about 200 species of hemiparasitic wildlowers.

Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja miniata)
Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja miniata)

The plant is known to grow between 1.5 and 3 feet tall and their stems may be unbranded of semi-branched. The flower cluster of the plant is said to resemble a paintbrush which gives the plant its common name. The bracts beneath the flower are known to be brightly colored and may be a bright orange, pink or a crimson red. Typically the paint brush will bloom May through Sepetember, however this event is subject to environmental conditions such as altitude and water availability.

The paint brush generally prefers sunlight and moist well drained soils. The root system will connect with and grow into the root system of other planets to harvest nutrients from the host plant. For this reason, they are no able to be transplanted easily.

Native American tribes are known to consume the edible flowers of the paintbrush. The selenium rich flowers were also used as a hair wash by the Ojibwe people. The Owls Clover is a member of the same genus as the Indian Paintbrush.

Wikipedia article of Castilleja.

Snow plant (Sarcodes sanguinea)

Snow plant (Sarcodes sanguinea) in Big Bear, California
Snow plant (Sarcodes sanguinea) in Big Bear, California

The Snow plant (Sarcodes sanguinea) is a rather rare and unique member of the plant community. The scientific name roughly translates to “the bloody flesh-like thing” and named by John Torrey, who was a 19th century botanist. The name is easily understood when walking through a snowy section of mountains and you happen across a bright red plant.

This solitary little plant is completely red is color due to its complete lack of chlorophyll. Unable to photosynthesize, this plant derives its nutrition from a mutual-ism between the plant and a fungus. The snow plant provides fixed carbon to the fungus, and in return, the plant leaches sugars from the fungus.

The red flowered plant typically appears just before the last of the snows of winter. The above ground stalk typically does not exceed 12 inches in height. The plant is typically founded in the conifer forests of California, Oregon and parts of western Nevada. The plants are essentially parasites to the conifers and as such, typically found close to them.

The flowers of the snow plant are typically tightly packed around the singular stalk and evenly spaced. The plant is typically bright red in color and the fruit is pinkish red.

Chicalote (Argemone munita)

Chicalote (Argemone munita)
Chicalote (Argemone munita)

A species of prickly poppy, Chicalote (Argemone munita) is also known as the flatbud prickly poppy. A native of California, the Chicalote is also found in Nevada and Arizona. This hearty wildflower dereives its name from the Latin work “Minuta” which means armed, in reference the the small sharr spines commonly found on its lobed leaves.

The flower consists of sixe crinkly looking white petals and feature many bright yellow stamen. The delicate looking flowers can reach and overall diameters of up to fie inches. Overall, the plant commonly reaches about three feet in height.

The leaves of Argemone munita are mint green in color, dry in appearance and quite lobed. Each leaf is armed and features a small short spike for protection.

Chicalote (Argemone munita) on the roadside into Bodie, CA
Chicalote (Argemone munita) on the roadside into Bodie, CA

The Chicalote poppy commonly grows in dry rocky areas and found at elevations up to 10,000 feet. The flower typically grows in chaparral, or northern slopes of Transverse ranges and desert mountains. The plant typically puts its flower in bloom in June through August.

It is quite common to find this little gem of a flower in San Diego, the areas surrounding Los Angeles up the High Sierra and into Mono County.

Silvery Lupine (Lupinus argenteus)

Silvery Lupine (Lupinus argenteus)
Silvery Lupine (Lupinus argenteus)

Silvery Lupine (Lupinus argenteus) is a fairly common vibrant purple wild flower and is common in much of Western North America including Arizona, California, Nevada and Utah. Deriving its name from the fine silvery hair found on its stalks, which are reddish in color.

Lupine is a stalked plant which grows up to four feet tall. The Lupine thrives in higher elevations and may be commonly found between 3,300 and 10,000 feet. It is quite common for the flower to be found along roadways, stream valleys, rocky prairies and in open pine woods.

The Lupine typically blooms in June to October, however like many wild flowers, this period will vary dependent upon water and location. The violet colored flowers are typically arranged around a spike which may reach up to eight inches in length.

The Silvery Lupine grows quickly and in bunches and considered a member of the pea family. Although toxic to humans, this beautiful flowering plant is known to attach butterflies, birds and hummingbirds.

The Navajo people used the Silvery Lupine as a natural treatment for Poison Ivy blisters. The Lupine is commonly found in clearings in the countries of Apache, Coconino, and Mohave, and Navajo in Arizona.