Tiny Flowers

April 23, 2010

I’m working on a major revision of my Empire Mountains Flora webpage.  The new version will have photos of all the plants.  Images will pop up on the same page, allowing visitors to study the list as they look at the pictures.  I expect to post the revised page within the next couple of weeks.  The desert wildflowers are abundant and diverse this year, so I’ve been busy hiking and taking pictures.  It has been especially interesting to track down some of the tiniest annuals.  They don’t appear at all in dry years, and in wet years are easily overlooked among all the larger, brighter colored flowers.  The night-blooming Camissonia shown below is less than half a centimeter across.  The Nemacladus (called “Threadplant”) is about one centimeter, and the plants are nearly invisible in the desert gravel.

Camissonia chamaenerioides - Onagraceae

Nemacladus glanduliferus - Campanulaceae

Daily wildflower walks (and occasional long hikes) are also helping me to regain strength and endurance.  Three months ago, I awoke one morning with a sudden case of peripheral neuropathy, with completely numb hands, forearms, legs, and feet.  I had no paralysis, no pain, and no loss of mobility for daily activities such as housework and catering to cats, though I had localized muscle weakness.  Since then, recovery has been slow but steady.  Metalworking is still a challenge – I’m not working in the shop every day, and am only able to do it for a short time.  Off-trail hiking (the kind we’ve usually been doing for the last few years) is currently impossible, so we’re exploring new trails and rediscovering some that we hadn’t visited in a long time.  I’m no stranger to physical limitations and long recovery periods – I’ve been a severe asthmatic for all of my adult life and it grows worse each year, so the neuropathy is a relatively minor setback in comparison. This is not an “illness blog” but I wanted to explain why I haven’t been posting very much lately.  And the weather is too nice to stay inside, anyway!

Matthiola parviflora is a Mediterranean annual in the Mustard Family (Brassicaceae) that has recently been documented for Tucson, Arizona.  To determine the U.S. distribution of this exotic new arrival, sightings and related information are being compiled by University of Arizona researchers.

Matthiola parviflora - FLOWER

I found one of these plants yesterday at Saguaro National Park East.  Today I added a new webpage to my Desert Botany site:  For Matthiola parviflora photos, nontechnical identification tips, and instructions for how to report a sighting, visit this page:

http://www.mineralarts.com/cactus/Matthiolaparviflora.html