Stellars Jay ( Cyanocitta stelleri )

The Stellars Jay ( Cyanocitta stelleri ) is a common character found in the forests of the western half of the United States. The bird is an opportunistic omnivore and closely related to the Blue Jay. The Stellars Jay has a black crested head and a vibrant blue body which is commonly about between eleven and twelve inches long. This bird has a lot of variations depending on location.

Stellar's Jay ( Cyanocitta stelleri ) stealing peanuts in Big Bear, California
A Stellar’s Jay ( Cyanocitta stelleri ) stealing peanuts in Big Bear, California
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Western Wallflower (Erysimum capitatium)

A member of the mustard family, the Western Wallflower ( Erysimum capitatium ) is a brightly colored yellow flower which is quite common across the western United States, including Arizona, Utah and Nevada.. In European countries, the wallflower earned its name from a habit of growing on… you guess it, walls. More specifically stone, masonry or wooden fences. The name was transposed to the American species despite the fact the plants have no preference for walls.

Western Wallflower (Erysimum capitatium)
Western Wallflower (Erysimum capitatium)
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Common Fiddleneck ( Amsinckia intermedia )

The Common Fiddleneck ( Amsinckia intermedia ) is a wildflower common across the United States and a member of the forget-me-not-family. Also known as the Intermediate Fiddleneck, the name is derived from the flower stems which are formed in the appearance of a violin or fiddle.

Common Fiddleneck ( Amsinckia intermedia var. intermedia )
Common Fiddleneck ( Amsinckia intermedia var. intermedia )
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Notch-leaved phacelia ( phacelia crenulata )

Notch-leaved phacelia ( phacelia crenulata ) is a lovely little purple wild flower which grows across the desert southwest from California to Texas. The plant is typically between three to twenty-four inches in height. The flower is also known by several different names including, notch-leaf scorpion-weed, notch-leaved phacelia, cleftleaf wildheliotrope, and heliotrope phacelia.

Notch-leaved phacelia
Notch-leaved phacelia
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Mojave prickly pear ( Opuntia erinacea )

Mojave prickly pear ( Opuntia erinacea ), or grizzlybear prickly pear, is a fairly common cactus with a wide spread distribution across the desert south. Although their are varieties, this cactus is characterized by the high density of its spines. The spines may be white or pale yellow and reddish in color at the base. The spines may vary is length between one and seven inches in length.

Mojave prickly pear ( Opuntia erinacea )
Mojave prickly pear ( Opuntia erinacea )

The pads of this cactus are medium in size at three to fives inches across and grey-green in appearance. The plant flowers in the spring between May and July. The flowers boast color varieties of yellow to rose.

The cactus is low lying and grows in medium sized clumps which are no more the two feet in height. The reach of the cacti is known to grow up to ten feet across. This plant flourishes in Creosote Bush Scrub, Pinyon-Juniper and Joshua Tree woodlands and are known to grow at up to 7,000 feet in elevation. Typically, this plant is found in well-drained, sandy or gravel soil types. They can be found in washes, canyons and along the slopes of lower mountains.

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