Mojave-aster ( Xylorhiza tortifolia )

Mojave-aster ( Xylorhiza tortifolia )
Mojave-aster ( Xylorhiza tortifolia )

A member of the sunflower family, the Mojave-aster ( Xylorhiza tortifolia ) boasts a delicate lavender flower in the harsh desert environment. Also known as the Mojave Woodyaster, the plant commonly reaches about 30 inches in height. The green-grey colored stems hold a solitary flower which is about two inches in diameter. The plant gathers sun with three inch long silver-green leaves and an individual plant may offer dozens to purple hued flowers.

A solitary Mojave Aster next to a wind blown Globe Mallow bush.
A solitary Mojave Aster next to a wind blown Globemallow bush.

The Mojave Aster typically blooms between March and May, and again in October when the monsoon season allows. It in commonly found between 2000 and 3500 feet in elevation, however in California it is know to thrive between 700 and 6500 feet. The flowers of this plant are attractive to bees, butterflies and birds.

The aster is known to grown in the Great Basin and Sonora deserts and thrives in the Mojave. Like many other desert adapted plants, this plant thrives in sandy dry, well drained soil and common on desert slopes and washes.

The Havasupai people used this plant and its flowers as a fragrence to mask body odors and as an incense. Dried leaves where commonly carried in clothes by the tribal members.

Speckled Rattlesnake ( Crotalus mitchellii )

The Speckled Rattlesnake is fairly common pit viper found in southern California, southern Nevada, western Arizona and south-western Utah and down the Pacific coast into Baja California.  A moderate size snake, this animal typically does not exceed 39 inches in length.  As with most animals, the Speckled Rattlesnake is a master of disguise and commonly are colored to compliment the surrounding rock.  This viper can range from pink, cream, tan or pale blues and grays.  This feature I can personally attest to as I witnessed and entire Cub Scout Pack literally step over the specimen photographed below while hiking on a camping trip in the Valley of Fire State Park just outside of Las Vegas, Nevada.

Juvenile Speckled Rattle Snake found in Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada
A Juvenile Speckled Rattlesnake found in Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada
Continue Reading →

Desert Marigolds (Baileya multiradiata)

Desert Marigolds located off the Old Mojave Road.
Desert Marigolds photographed near the Old Mojave Road.

Desert Marigolds (Baileya multiradiata) are an abundant and well distributed flower across the desert south west. The name Marigolds are derived from the name “Mary’s Gold” which is to honor Mary, the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus.  

As with all members of the Asteraceae family, the Desert Marigold is characterize with individual florets which are arranged so that each flower groups appears to be a single flower. The bright yellow flowers of this annual growing plant will first appear in bloom in early March. The planet may bloom several more times upon subsequent rains brought in my the desert monsoons and thunderstorms.  

It is not uncommon to view the Desert Marigold display until November depending upon the conditions.  A wildly distributed flower, the Desert marigold can be found growing in sandy or gravelly soils. It is quote common to fine them along roadsides, washes, and plains. The elevations they may be found at range from 100 to 6500 feet above sea level and may be found from California, Arizona and Nevada to Texas.

The Desert Marigold can typically survive about two years and it can be poisonous to livestock.

This yellow wild flower is also known as:

  • Desert Marigold
  • Showy Desert Marigold
  • Paper Daisy
  • Desert Baileya

Desert Primrose (Oenothera deltoides)

Desert Primrose photographed in Anza Burego, CA
Desert Primrose photographed in Anza Burego, CA

The Desert Primrose ( Oenothera deltoides ) is a small bush-like flowering planet with delicate white flowers.  The primrose ranges from 2″ to 18″ high and frequents the sand dunes of the Mojave, Anza Burego and Sonoran Deserts as well as the Great Basin. This white flowered is common in most of the south western states of the United States.

The plants themselves may cluster and spread up to about 40 inches wide when healthy. They will grow profusely in abundant spring rains offer the water they need to sustain growth. The long tongue of the white-lined sphynx moth is known to pollinate this flower.

The pretty white flower blooms from January through May. During which the 2 – 3″ delicate bloom opens in the evening and closes mid morning.  The small oval shaped branches are pale green in color grow to about 4 inches in length.

The Primrose is also known by the following common names:

  • Basket Evening Primrose
  • Birdcage Evening Primrose
  • Devil’s Lantern
  • Lion-in-a-Cage

The delicate flower above was photographed with the light of the setting sun and the back country of Anza Burrego, CA. The year, the desert flower was inundated with these plants and a white covered the sands of the desert floor.