Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Salazaria mexicana

Paper bag bush - Salazaria mexicana

Of the Mojave's mints, one of the most visually unique is the Salazaria mexicana, commonly known as paper-bag bush. Twiggy, grey-green and somewhat thorny, this plant is easily recognized out in the field. Its most defining character, and in fact its namesake, is the small paper-bags that form from the plant's sepals during and after flowering. While the plant is in flower, the bags are warm pink, and subtend the flowers, while after flowering is complete, they dry and form a tough, papery "capsule" around the developing nutlets. When the bags eventually fall off, they are blown along the ground by the wind, dispersing them and the seeds.

These plants are typically found in exposed areas and drainages, typically where the plant's sepal-bags can catch and germinate. The plants themselves can become a medium to large bush.

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