Friday, April 8, 2016

Desert flowers

The last two posts have focused on desert ferns, but it's only fair to share some photos of the incredible flowers we saw too. Thanks to above average rainfall this spring, the desert was truly in bloom, and we caught the end of a major flowering of cacti and desert annuals. Here is a small sampling of what we saw.

First, an assortment of cacti:

Next, a classic feature of the Sonoran and other southern deserts, Ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens)

A beautiful Yucca and a few other flowers:

Phoradendron californicum, a mistletoe
Member of Malvaceae, the cotton family
Palafoxia sp., member of the sunflower family, Asteraceae
Funastrum cynanchoides, a vining milkweed
Epipactis gigantea, an orchid!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Desert ferns: not Myriopteris

My last post focused on several species of Myriopteris ferns we found in the Anza Borrego desert region of southern California. In addition, we found a few other species of ferns that also deserve highlighting. These included Pellaea mucronata, Pentagramma triangularis, and Adiantum capillus-veneris, all members of the family Pteridaceae (like Myriopteris). Adiantum was a particularly pleasant surprise because it is not a particularly desert-adapted fern at all. We found it at the end of a long hike up Hellhole Canyon in Anza Borrego Desert Park, at the very aptly named Maidenhair Falls. Clearly the ferns survive in that location thanks to the waterfall!

Pellaea mucronata
Pellaea mucronata and Myriopteris viscida
Pentagramma triangularis
Pentagramma triangularis
Adiantum capillus-veneris
Adiantum capillus-veneris
Last but not least, we found a signature desert lycophyte, Selaginella eremophila. This one is nice and green, probably thanks to some recent rains that brought it back to life. Many Selaginella species are resurrection plants, able to dry out completely and rehydrate quickly when water becomes available again. Most of the ones we saw were brown and crispy; this one was a lucky find. I previously blogged about Selaginella and their resurrection abilities here.

Selaginella eremophila