Desert Wildflowers

February 26, 2008

Ragged Rock Flower

Wildflowers are beginning to bloom under the saguaros – golden poppies, purple larkspur and lupine, dark blue chia, yellow corydalis, and others.  Many of them have close relatives in the eastern deciduous forest.  In the desert, the show of color is all the more welcome because it happens only when there is sufficient winter rain, which is about once every three years.  The photo is Ragged Rock Flower, Crossosoma bigelovii.  It is a flowering shrub that grows in vertical cracks in cliffs and outcrops.  For most of the year (or all the time in dry years), its thin, arching silver twigs and small, sparse leaves may go unnoticed.  But when it blooms, the white flowers sparkle against the dark rock, and their heavy fragrance smells like honeysuckle – a sweet contrast to the musky-medicinal jojoba flowers and bursage plants that grow all around them.

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