Saturday, July 16, 2011

Enceliopsis covillei

Panamint Daisy

Most special status plants in the desert are small and unobtrusive, requiring careful searching to find them. Enceliopsis covillei is not one of those plants. A member of the sunflower family, this plant bears more resemblance to the family's namesake than most species commonly associated with the family, being very large in size. The diameter of the flower heads can reach up to 13 cm, and contain both ray and disk flowers. The flower stalks can reach a full meter long, and are abundant.

Though normally found on cliff faces and the like, these plants can also grow down in the base of their home canyons on the West side of the Panamint mountains. These plants are endemic to the western Panamints, being found nowhere else in the world. As a special status plant, they are protected by law under the Bureau of Land Management's Land Use Plan.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Eriogonum inflatum

Desert Trumpet

One of many Eriogonum species found in the Mojave, E. inflatum has a most unusual flower stalk, inflating to form a large, hollow bulb at the apex of the main stalks. These bulbs were originally thought to originate from parasitoid wasps inhabiting the stalks as a nest, but recent work has disproven this, instead showing that the inflation is due to the build up of CO2 gasses in the chamber. What is of note, however, is that these bulbs do indeed act as either nesting chambers or larders for different species of insect.

Though technically an annual plant, E. inflatum can survive for multiple seasons if conditions at the site are good.