Nevada Ninebark

      There are a number of plants which grow at higher elevations within the boundaries of Death Valley National Park (DVNP) which aren't exactly what you'd call typical desert plants. Nevada Ninebark is one of those plants. It grows primarily in pinyon/juniper woodlands at elevations above 5800 feet. Around DVNP it grows in the Inyo, White, Cottonwood, and Panamint ranges. The specimen shown here was found on the west side of the Panamint Range at an elevation of 9200 feet, near Telescope Peak. (Click here for more info!)

Desert Willow

      Although not prevalent as a native of the Death Valley area, Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis) does show up here and there, especially as a landscape plant around museums and other structures found in the park. Native to the Desert Southwest and found from Texas to California and south into Mexico, this plant is well-adapted to conditions found at lower elevations, especially conditions which are prevalent in the southeastern portion of the park. Oddly enough, the leaves of this plant fall off when the temperature drops below forty-one degrees on the Fahrenheit scale. (Click here for more info!)

Wire Lettuce

      Wire Lettuce is known by several common names including Desert Straw, Prairie Skeleton Plant, and Desert Milk-Aster, as well as a couple other possilities. Desert Straw is an appropriate name for the plant since when it is dried out it looks somewhat like a pile of hay or straw. On the other hand, Desert Milk-Aster also works since young plants produce milky sap. As for Pairie Skeleton Plant, this name is a good fit as well since the plant produces few leaves and the tangled stems can look a little bit like a pile of bones. I suppose the lesson to be learned here is that common names can be confusing and so it's a good thing that plants have scientific names as well as informal nicknames! (Click here for more info!)

Joshua Tree

      Joshua trees produced what has been called a historic bloom during the spring of 2013. Also known as Yucca brevifolia, these plants are somewhat unpredictable when it comes to producing flowers during the spring. Some years they do and some years they don't. But this year lots of flowers have been produced and no one seems to be able to adequately account for this event. While some have attempted to attribute this abundant bloom to global warming, it seems that the best theory has to do with late summer thunderstorms and colder than normal winter temperatures. (Click here for more info!)

Beavertail Cactus

      It has been much drier than normal so far this year and it was much drier than normal last year also, but one plant has managed, nevertheless, to produce flowers in abundance and that plant is the Beavertail Cactus, or Opuntia basilaris, to use its formal name. The flowers of this plant are usually said to be magenta, but sometimes the word cerise is used to describe their color. Cerise is defined as somewhere between a deep to vivid reddish pink. That pretty much sums up the color of the flowers of the Beavertail Cactus and so it works, although most people will probably stick with magenta or deep pink or something simple like that! (Click here for more info!)

Box Thorn

      To observe the flowers on this shrub, your timing must be pretty good since they last only a few days. To further reduce the chances of spotting this thorny bush while it is producing flowers is the fact that it may bloom during March, April, or May, depending on what the weather has been like during a particular year. However, should you be fortunate enough to catch this bush while it is in bloom, you will be treated to some rather attractive, but small, flowers ranging in color from pale lavender to almost purple. (Click here for more info!)


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