Best described as a round mound on the ground, this small shrub does in fact look a bit like a turtle in terms of its shape. However, it produces yellow flowers and grayish-green leaves and so it doesn't look that much like a turtle or tortoise that's likely to be encountered in the Mojave Desert. This small plant is in the Sunflower Family and it grows below 3000 feet in washes and sandy flats throughout the Mojave Desert and beyond. (Click here for more info!)

Desert Milkweed

      One of the most interesting inflorescences of any plant in the desert belongs to the desert milkweed (Asclepias erosa). It is described as umbel-like and a particularly interesting feature is that it forms a nearly complete sphere. Various forms of milkweed are found throughout the southwest. This particular species is found in southwestern deserts below 6000 feet in elevation. Local Native Americans are said to have rubbed the milky sap onto warts in order to soften them. (Click here for more info!)

Aspen Onion

      Until recently onions were considered to be members of the Lily Family (Liliaceae), but now they have their very own family known as the Onion Family (Alliaceae). Thanks to breakthroughs in biology, genetic analysis has helped scientists to better understand the relationships between various species and as a result much reorganization has occurred. Aspen onion is not likely to be found in Death Valley, but it is likely to be found throughout the Great Basin at elevations above 6000 feet. (Click here for more info!)

Desert Five-Spot

      One of the most emblematic wildflowers of the Death Valley area is the Desert Five Spot (also known as Eremalche rotundifolia). It's an attractive annual, usually less than a foot high, which produces showy flowers that are rose-pink with five purplish spots on the insides of the petals. The plant is widespread throughout the desert southwest and produces flowers during the spring from March through May. (Click here for more info!)

Shooting Star

      Mary DeDecker in her book about the flora of the Northern Mojave Desert lists Shooting Star as a wildflower that can be found in the Panamint Range. Of course, she indicates that it exists there between the elevations of 9500 and 10,000 feet. This pretty much limits this plant to Eagle Springs since Shooting Star needs a fair amount of moisture. I have not visited Eagle Springs for over a decade and back then I never carried a camera with me and so I have not yet got a picture of a Shooting Star plant in the Death Valley area. In fact, the picture displayed here was taken in the Sierra Nevada Range and so at this point I'm taking it on faith that Mary DeDecker's observation of Shooting Star in the Panamints is something that can be replicated now. (Click here for more info!)

Ground Cherry

      Although the flowering season for Ground Cherry (Physalis crassifolia) is said to be from March to May, it also produces some flowers during late summer and fall. In fact, the neat thing about this time of year is that it is possible to see both the flowers and the unusual fruits of this plant. The fruits are most often compared to miniature lanterns due to their inflated and angular structure. BTW, I observed some very nice ground cherry specimens in Knight Canyon (located in the Argus Range) this last week. (Click here for more info!)


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