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Title: Flowers of the Southwest Deserts
Author: Dodge, Natt N.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                            FLOWERS _OF THE_
                           SOUTHWEST DESERTS

                            By Natt N. Dodge
                      Drawings by Jeanne R. Janish

                          POPULAR SERIES NO. 4

                             Globe, Arizona

                      _Copyright 1951, 1952, 1954
               by the Southwestern Monuments Association_

                    U. S. Department of the Interior
                         National Park Service
                    Southwestern National Monuments
                      Gila Pueblo, Globe, Arizona

This booklet is published by the Southwestern Monuments Association in
keeping with one of its objectives, to provide accurate and authentic
information about the Southwest.

Other numbers of the Popular Series now in print are: (2) “Arizona’s
National Monuments,” 1946; (3) “Poisonous Dwellers of the Desert,” in
its fourth printing, 1951; (5) “Flowers of the Southwest Mesas,” 1951;
(6) “Tumacacori’s Yesterdays,” 1951; (7) “Flowers of the Southwest
Mountains,” 1952; and (8) “Animals of the Southwest Deserts,” April,

A Technical Series will embody results of research accomplished by the
staff and friends of Southwestern National Monuments.

Notification of publications by the Association will be given upon date
of release to such persons or institutions as submit their names to the
Executive Secretary for this purpose.

                Dale Stuart King, _Executive Secretary_
                    Harry B. Boatright, _Treasurer_

                           BOARD OF DIRECTORS

  John M. Davis, General Superintendent, Southwestern National
          Monuments, National Park Service, Gila Pueblo, Globe, Arizona,
  Horace M. Albright, New York City.
  Adrey E. Borell, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
  Dr. Harold S. Colton, Flagstaff, Arizona.
  Dr. Emil W. Haury, Tucson, Arizona.
  Rev. Victor R. Stoner, Victoria, Texas.
  Alexander V. Wasson, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
  Executive Secretary _and_ Treasurer, _ex-officio_

                        DALE STUART KING, Editor
              Naturalist, Southwestern National Monuments

          First Edition, 5,000 copies, published April 9, 1951
        Second edition, revised, of 7,500 copies, January, 1952
         Third edition, revised, of 10,000 copies, March, 1954

               Printed in the United States of America by
                      Rydal Press, Santa Fe, N.M.

                          [Illustration: Map]

  _1. Big Bend National Park_
  _2. Carlsbad Caverns National Park_
  _3. Casa Grande National Monument_
  _4. Chiricahua_    “    “
  _5. Death Valley_    “    “
  _6. Joshua Tree_    “    “
  _7. Montezuma Castle_    “    “
  _8. Organ Pipe Cactus_    “    “
  _9. Saguaro_    “    “
  _10. Tonto_    “    “
  _11. Tumacacori_    “    “
  _12. White Sands_    “    “
  _13. Lake Mead Nat’l Recreation Area_

Desert Areas of the West—this booklet deals with the common plants of
three of them: (1) the Chihuahua; (2) the Sonoran; and (3) the Mojave.

Plants of the higher plateau country of from 4,500 to 7,000-feet
elevation are shown and described in “Flowers of the Southwest Mesas,”
companion volume to this one, by Pauline M. Patraw and Jeanne R. Janish,

Mountain zone vegetation (from the Ponderosa Pine belt, or about 7,000
feet, on up) is the subject of “Flowers of the Southwest Mountains,” the
third of the triad, by Leslie P. Arnberger and Jeanne R. Janish.


                            By Natt N. Dodge
                      Drawings by Jeanne R. Janish

                        HOW TO USE THIS BOOKLET

In order that you may get full value from this booklet, it is important
that you understand how to make the greatest use of it. The purpose of
the booklet is double: (1) to introduce the common desert flowers to
newcomers to the Southwest; and (2), to give a little background of
information about the plants’ interesting habits and how they have been
and are used by animals, by the native peoples, and by the settlers.
Every effort has been made to present accurate, if not always complete,

Since there are more than 3,200 plants recorded from Arizona alone, and
this booklet attempts to introduce you to the common plants of desert
areas in Texas, New Mexico, and California in addition to Arizona, it is
apparent that you will find an enormous number of flowers which are not
included. Therefore, a painstaking effort has been made to select the
commonest or most spectacular; that is, those which you will naturally
stop to look at and say, “Who are you?”

For ease in identification, flowers are arranged in this booklet
according to color of the flower petals. When you meet a flower to whom
you would like an introduction, first note the color of its petals.
Don’t jump too quickly to a conclusion, for what at first glance may
seem to be pink, careful examination may prove to be lavender, violet,
or purple. Once you feel reasonably sure of the color, turn to the
section of the booklet in which flowers of that color are listed and
examine the sketches. Find something that looks similar?

Now check the size of the plant as indicated in the sketch and text.
Does the text list the flower as occurring in the particular desert area
(see map on next page) where you are? Is the blossoming season correct?
Do other details check? If so, the chances are that you have the right
flower—or at least a close relative. Close enough, anyway, so that you
may be reasonably safe in calling the flower by its common name. Of
course if a botanist happens along, he may point out that you have
_Penstemon parryi_ whereas you thought you had struck up an acquaintance
with _Penstemon pseudospectabilis_. However, it’s a penstemon, even tho’
a sister of the one you thought you were meeting. Perhaps you’ll run
across a dozen other brothers and sisters before you happen onto the
member of the genus common enough to be listed specifically in our
Desert Who’s Who.

Certain of the desert flowers change color with age. Also, during off
seasons, some of the really common flowers don’t show up in large
numbers while a few of the rarer ones may take their turn at brightening
up the desert. Furthermore, in a few cases such as the Oleander, the
species comes in two colors, red flowers on one plant and white on
another. The Bird-of-Paradise flower has yellow petals, but the rest of
the flower is red, so it’s a toss-up which color you might call it. The
Beavertail Cactus has magenta flowers while those of its very close
relative, Engelmann’s Prickly Pear, have yellow blossoms, yet in this
booklet it has been necessary to put them both on the same page in the
“yellow” section.

So, this booklet makes no claims to perfection, and these discrepancies
add certain hazards to the game. You may strike out several times before
getting to first base. As you become accustomed to using the booklet,
home runs will come more frequently, and you will soon begin to have a
lot of fun. If any particular species especially interests you, once you
are certain of its identity you can readily find out more about it by
following up in one or more of the publications listed in this booklet
under the heading “References.”

A few of the common desert flowers have been left out of this
booklet—purposely. The reason is that, although they are well
represented among desert flowers, they are even more common throughout
non-desert parts of the Southwest. You will find them all in a companion
booklet: Polly Patraw’s “Flowers of the Southwest Mesas.” They belong
principally to the following groups: Cottonwood, Rabbit-brush,
Snakeweed, Saltbush, Apacheplume, Clematis, Squawbush, Blanketflower,
Sunflower, Groundsel, Elder, Blazing Star and Morningglory.

                              PLANT NAMES
            Be Serious About Plant Names—But Not Too Serious

It has often been said that “a rose by any other name would smell as
sweet.” Although the statement is literally true, we are often
disappointed, perhaps offended, when we find some flower friend of long
acquaintance called by another, and, to our minds, inferior name. Also,
we dislike the attachment of a name which we have long associated with a
certain plant to another, and perhaps less attractive, flower.

Common names are by no means standardized in their usage, and a well
known plant in one part of the country may be called by an entirely
different name somewhere else. Also, certain names are applied to a
number of plants which more or less resemble one another. For instance,
the name “Greasewood” is applied to almost any plant that has oily or
highly inflammable leaves; and with the avid reading by eastern people
of Zane Grey’s and other “westerns,” any shrubby plant with grayish
foliage covering large areas of western land immediately becomes
“Sagebrush.” This is particularly irritating to inhabitants of the
desert areas treated in this booklet because true Sagebrush (_Artemisia
tridentata_) rarely grows below elevations of 6,000 feet. The loose
application of common names is a confusing annoyance to wildflower

In an effort to avoid this confusion and to establish a method of naming
that will be uniform throughout the world, botanists have developed a
system using descriptive Latin names and grouping plants into genera and
families based upon their relationships to one another as determined by
their physical structure. Unfortunately for the layman, this system is
so technical and the Latin names so unintelligible that he becomes
completely bewildered. Furthermore, advanced botanical studies result in
continual regroupings and changes in names so that the amateur botanist
finds it impossible to keep up. Botanists who specialize in plant
nomenclature have a tendency to become so involved with the
technicalities of naming that their writings bristle with minute
descriptions of anatomical details and the reader searches in vain for
such basic information as a simple statement of the color of the

The majority of common flowers have several to many common names. This
is particularly true in the Southwest where some plants have names in
English, Spanish, and one or more Indian languages. In addition, of
course, each species has its scientific name. An effort has been made in
this booklet to give as many of the names applied to each selected
flower as are readily available. This not only aids in identifying the
plant, but adds to its interest. The reader then finds himself in the
enviable position of being able to scan the field and choose whichever
name appeals to him with the reasonable assurance that he is right—at
least in one locality.

Since this booklet was written by a layman for the use and enjoyment of
other laymen, it violates a number of botanical, or taxonomic,
principles. These violations have been committed with no spirit of
disrespect, but in an effort to avoid confusion, conserve space, and
keep a complicated and involved subject as simple as possible. The
writer believes that the visitor to the desert who has a normal pleasure
in nature is interested in the flowers because of their beauty and their
relationships with other inhabitants of the desert, including mankind.

                    THE DESERT—WHAT AND WHERE IS IT?

In this booklet we are dealing with DESERT flowers, so it seems logical
to take a moment to check upon the desert itself. What is a desert, and
how may we recognize one when we see it?

“A desert,” stated the late Dr. Forrest Shreve, “is a region of
deficient and uncertain rainfall.” Where moisture is deficient and
uncertain, only such plants survive as are able to endure long periods
of extreme drought. Desert vegetation is, therefore, made up of plants
which, through various specialized body structures, can survive
conditions of severe drought. In general, the deserts of the world are
fairly close to the equator, so they occur in climates that are hot as
well as dry. Plants in the deserts of the Southwest must endure long
periods of heat as well as drought.

In North America, major desert areas are located in the general vicinity
of the international boundary between Mexico and the United States. Due
to various differences in elevation, climatic conditions, and other
factors, certain portions of this Great American Desert favor the growth
of plants of certain types. Based on these general vegetative types,
botanists have catalogued the Great American Desert into four divisions,
as follows (see map):

  1. Chihuahuan Desert: Western Texas, southern New Mexico, and the
          Mexican states of Chihuahua and Coahuila.
  2. Sonoran Desert (Arizona Desert): Baja (Lower) California, northern
          Sonora, and southern Arizona.
  3. Mohave-Colorado Desert (California Desert): Portions of southern
          California, southern Nevada, and northwestern Arizona.
  4. Great Basin Desert: The Great Basin area of Nevada, Utah, and
          northeastern Arizona.

It is of especial interest to note that certain plants such as
Creosotebush (_Larrea tridentata_) seems to thrive in several of these
desert areas while others are found in great abundance in only one.
Plants that grow in profusion in only one desert are spoken of as
“indicators” of that particular desert. Any person interested in desert
vegetation soon learns the major indicators, not only of the different
deserts, but of different sections or elevations in the same desert.
Here are some of the better-known indicator plants:

  1. Chihuahuan Desert: Lechuguilla (_Agave lechuguilla_);
  2. Sonoran Desert: Saguaro (_Carnegiea gigantea_);
  3. Mohave-Colorado Desert: Joshua-tree (_Yucca brevifolia_);
  4. Great Basin Desert: Sagebrush (_Artemisia tridentata_).

This publication deals with the common plants and flowers of the
Chihuahuan, Sonoran, and Mohave-Colorado Deserts. Since these names are
strange to many visitors to the Southwest, the writer has taken the
liberty of applying descriptive names as synonyms. In this booklet the
Chihuahuan Desert is called the Texas Desert, the Sonoran Desert is
referred to as the Arizona Desert, and the Colorado-Mohave Desert is
considered as the California Desert.

Whenever possible, the desert in which a particular species of plant is
most common is indicated; however, this should not be interpreted too
rigidly as most of the plants in this book grow in more than one desert
and some grow in all.

Because the Great Basin Desert is a region of higher elevation and is
influenced by other factors which are not common to the three portions
of the Great American Desert covered in this booklet, its vegetation is
more like that of the plateaulands and foothills of the Southwest.
Therefore, the flowers of the Great Basin Desert are included in a
companion booklet, Polly Patraw’s “Flowers of the Southwest Mesas.”

                      NATIONAL PARKS AND MONUMENTS
                       AS WILDFLOWER SANCTUARIES

Someone has called National Parks and Monuments “The Crown Jewels of
America.” A part of their beauty and irreplaceable value is because the
approximately 180 units of the National Park System which extends from
Florida to Alaska and from Hawaii to Maine, are and have been wildflower
sanctuaries. Not only do native plants live under natural conditions,
but they are protected from picking, from grazing of domestic livestock,
and from the competition of exotic species, and from other activities of
mankind that would disrupt their normal habitat or disturb their native
way of life.

Men in the uniform of the National Park Service feel complimented
whenever visitors show an interest in the natural features of the areas
they protect, and are happy to assist them in locating rare species or
especially beautiful or spectacular specimens. Range and grazing
specialists are more and more using the natural vegetation of National
Parks and Monuments as “check plots” to aid them in studying ways and
means of preserving the level of grazing value on the open ranges.

Within the desert areas of the Southwest there are a number of National
Parks and Monuments. Three Monuments (Joshua Tree in California, Organ
Pipe Cactus and Saguaro in Arizona) have been created primarily to save
from exploitation and destruction outstanding areas of typical desert
vegetation. Although the others have been established to protect and
preserve geologic, historic, or archeologic values of national
significance, they are all wildflower sanctuaries. In California, Death
Valley National Monument is outstanding in its variety of desert
flowers. Lake Mead National Recreation Area, of which Hoover Dam is the
center, has exceptional displays of various forms of desert plants. A
great variety of desert vegetation will be shown and, if desired,
explained to the interested visitor, by National Park Service rangers at
Chiricahua, Tonto, Montezuma Castle, Casa Grande, and Tumacacori
National Monuments in Arizona. Of course the really great displays of
desert botany and ecology are featured at Organ Pipe Cactus and Saguaro
National Monuments.

In New Mexico, Chihuahuan Desert vegetation is particularly abundant at
Carlsbad Caverns National Park. A number of desert forms, especially
interesting because of the effect upon them of the ever-moving gypsum
dunes, are found at White Sands National Monument, near Alamogordo.
Another outstanding Chihuahuan Desert wildflower sanctuary is Big Bend
National Park in southwestern Texas.

Photography is encouraged in all of the National Parks and Monuments. By
asking a ranger, you will be able to learn where the various flower
displays may be found, the best time of day to obtain good results, and
other suggestions helpful in obtaining photographs of desert wildflowers
at their very best.

Each year the following magazine and radio program present bulletins on
moisture and other pertinent conditions in the desert, spotlight areas
in which outstanding wildflower displays are developing, and advance
suggestions relative to areas in which spectacular displays may be

  Desert Magazine, Randall Henderson, Editor, Palm Desert, California.
  Richfield Reporter, western radio stations.

                             DESERT PLANTS

Many people think of a desert as an area of shifting sand dunes without
vegetation except in areas where springs provide moisture. This is by no
means true of our Southwestern deserts which are characterized by a rich
and diversified plant cover. However, the majority of true desert plants
are equipped by Nature to meet conditions of high temperatures and
deficient and uncertain precipitation. The way in which desert plants,
closely related to common species found growing under normal temperature
and moisture conditions, have adapted themselves to meet the severe
requirements of desert life is truly remarkable and forms an absorbing
and fascinating study.

Shreve groups desert plants into three categories based on the manner in
which they have contrived to conquer the hazards of desert life.

These are:

  1. Drought-escaping plants;
  2. Drought-evading plants;
  3. Drought-resisting plants.

_Drought-escaping_ plants are the “desert quickies,” or ephemerals.
Taking advantage of the two seasons of rainfall on the desert (midsummer
showers and midwinter soakers) they develop rapidly, blossom, and mature
their seeds which lie dormant in the soil during the rest of the year,
thus escaping the season of heat and drought. There are two groups of
these “quickies,” the summer ephemerals and the winter ephemerals. The
former are hot-weather plants; the latter are species that thrive during
the cool, moist weather of winter and early spring. These “quickies”
present their spectacular floral displays only following seasons of
above-average precipitation.

_Drought-evading_ plants (in common with the deciduous plants of
northern and colder climes which remain dormant while below-freezing
temperatures prevail), meet the heat and drought by reducing the bodily
processes to maintain life only, dropping their leaves, and remaining in
a state of dormancy until temperature and moisture conditions, suitable
to renewed activity, again prevail.

The _drought-resisting_ plants are the bold spirits which take the worst
that the desert has to offer without flinching, or resorting to evasive
tactics. Chief among these are the cacti which store moisture in their
spongy stem or root tissues during periods of rainfall, using it
sparingly during drought. To reduce moisture loss to a minimum, they
have done away with their leaves, the green skin of their stems taking
over the function of foliage. Other plants, such as the Mesquite,
develop deep or widespread root systems that extract every drop of
moisture from a huge area of soil. The majority of the drought-resisters
either cut down their leaf surface to an irreducible minimum, or coat
the leaves with wax or varnish, thus restricting the loss of moisture.

Methods, techniques, devices, or body modifications which desert plants
have developed or evolved to enable them to withstand the rigors of
long-continued drought and heat are legion. Many of them are known and
understood, but it is probable that there are many others which
scientists have not yet discovered.


For numerous helpful suggestions, lists of common flowers, herbarium and
fresh specimens for use in preparing illustrations, and for assistance
in many other ways, the author and illustrator proffer sincere thanks to
the following: Glen Bean, L. Floyd Keller, Walter B. McDougall, and
William R. Supernaugh of the National Park Service; Dr. Norman C.
Cooper, research associate, Allen Hancock Foundation; Mrs. Robert Gibbs,
Isle Royale National Park, Mich.; Leslie M. Goodding, St. David,
Arizona; Edmund C. Jaeger, Riverside Junior College, California; Thomas
H. Kearney, California Academy of Sciences; Robert H. Peebles (who
kindly reviewed the manuscript), director of the U. S. Field Service
Station, Department of Agriculture, Sacaton, Arizona; Paul Ricker,
president, Wildflower Preservation Society, Washington, D. C.; and
Barton H. Warnock, head of biology department, Sul Ross State College,
Alpine, Texas.

                   [Illustration: Carnegiea gigantea]

  Arizona desert. (_Carnegiea gigantea_). Waxy white. May-June.
  Cactus family. Size: Up to 50 feet tall and 12 tons in weight.

Largest of the U. S. cacti, this species occurs only in southern and
western Arizona and adjoining northwestern Mexico and sparingly in
extreme southeast California. It is an indicator of the Sonoran Desert.

This giant is such a spectacular example of desert vegetation that it is
used as a trademark of the desert. It is the state flower of Arizona.
Blossoms unfold at night, remaining open until late the following
afternoon, attracting swarms of insects which in turn attract birds.
Fruits mature in July, resembling small, egg-shaped cucumbers. When
ripe, they burst open revealing a scarlet lining and deep red pulp
filled with tiny black seeds. Fruits are eagerly sought by birds and

Because of its enormous capacity for storing water in its spongy stem
tissue, the Saguaro (sah-WAR-oh) produces flowers and fruits even during
droughts of long duration. When other foods failed, the Pima and Papago
Indians could depend upon the Saguaro harvest.

               [Illustration: Dry weather, Rainy weather]

                    [Illustration: skeleton, flesh]

Saguaros are believed to live to a maximum age of 200 years, usually
succumbing to a necrosis disease transmitted by the larvæ of a small
moth. Grazing cattle trample out the young plants and much of the desert
occupied by Saguaros is being placed under cultivation. Both Saguaro
National Monument and Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument preserve and
protect spectacular stands of these desert behemoths.


                   [Illustration: Peniocereus greggi]

  Common Names: NIGHTBLOOMING CEREUS, (_Reina-de-la-noche_)
  Arizona and Texas deserts. (_Peniocereus greggi_). White. June-July.
  Cactus family. Size: 2 to 5 feet tall.

One of the most delicately beautiful of the flowers for which the desert
is famous, “Queen of the Night” is waxy-white with thread-like stamens
that give it the appearance of wearing a halo. The night on which the
Cereus blooms is eagerly awaited by desert dwellers of long residence.
All of the buds on a single plant, from two to six or seven in number,
may open on the same night or may time their opening over a period of a
week or more, usually in late June or early July, depending upon the
season and other factors.

It is not unusual for nearly all of the plants in one locality to
blossom on the same night. Buds unfold in the early evening, the flowers
wilting permanently soon after sunrise the following morning. Fragrant,
with a heavy, cloying perfume, they attract large numbers of
night-flying insects.

The long, slender, fluted, lead-colored stems of the Nightblooming
Cereus are inconspicuous and unattractive. Usually growing upward from
beneath a Creosotebush or other desert shrub, they are partially
supported and almost entirely hidden by the larger plant.

The beet-like root, which serves as a moisture-storage organ, may weigh
from 5 to 85 pounds and is reportedly eaten by desert Indians. Fruits
are podlike, pointed at the ends, and the size of a large pickle. They
turn dull red when mature.


                   [Illustration: Datura meteloides]

  Arizona, California, and Texas deserts. (_Datura meteloides_). White.
  Potato family. Size: Up to 3 feet tall, and spreading over as much as
          50 square feet of ground.

All portions of this coarse, vine-like herb are poisonous, and are used
by some Indians as a narcotic to induce visions.

Seeds are sometimes administered to prevent miscarriage.

The plants with their large, gray-green leaves and showy, white,
sometimes lavender-tinted flowers which open at night and close soon
after contact by rays of the morning sun, are a common and arresting
sight along roadsides and washes at elevations from 1,000 to 6,500 feet
in Texas, New Mexico, southern Utah, southern California, and Mexico.


                        [Illustration: Argemone]

  Arizona, California, and Texas deserts. (Argemone platyceras). White.
          Blooms all year.
  Poppy family. Size: Up to 30 inches in height.

One of the commonest and most noticeable perennials of the Southwest,
the Pricklypoppy ranges from South Dakota and Wyoming to Texas, Arizona,
southern California, and northern Mexico. A coarse, prickly plant with
large flowers and yellowish sap, it is easily recognized.

It is sometimes facetiously called “cowboys’ fried egg.”

Flowers are normally white with large, tissue-paper petals and yellow
centers. In southern Arizona an occasional plant with pale yellow petals
is found; and in Big Bend National Park, Texas, a form with rose-colored
petals and a deep red center is occasionally encountered.

Plants are drought-resistant, unpalatable to livestock, and may be found
in blossom during any month in the year, although much more prolific
during the spring and summer. When abundant on cattle range, they are an
indication of over-grazing. Seeds are reported to contain a narcotic
more potent than opium.


                 [Illustration: Hesperocallis undulata]

  Common Names: DESERTLILY, (_AJO_)
  Arizona and California deserts. (_Hesperocallis undulata_). White.
  Lily family. Size: Narrow-leafed perennial, 6 inches to 2 feet.

One of the showiest and most famous of the desert wildflowers, although
limited in distribution to sandy areas below 2,000 feet elevation, the
Desertlily greatly resembles the Easterlily of greenhouse habitat.

In some seasons, the blossoms are abundant and their delicate fragrance
perfumes the surrounding atmosphere. During “off” seasons, visitors may
scour the desert to find only a very few of the fragile blossoms.

Named “Ajo” by Spanish explorers because of the large, edible bulb
resembling garlic, the Lily has passed on its name to a mountain range,
a broad valley, and a thriving town in southwestern Arizona where it
grows in profusion. Its range is limited to southwestern Arizona,
southeastern California, and probably northern Sonora.

Papago Indians eat the bulbs which have an onion-like flavor. Bulbs are
difficult to obtain because they grow at a depth of 18 inches to two
feet beneath the surface of the hard-packed desert soil. Flowers remain
open during the day, and propagation is principally by seeds.


                [Illustration: Rafinesquia neomexicana]

  Arizona and Texas deserts. (_Rafinesquia neomexicana_). Bright white.
  California desert. (_Rafinesquia californica_). Dull white. April-May.
  Sunflower family. Size: About a foot high.

In early springs that follow winters of more than average rainfall the
Desert-Dandelion is one of the conspicuous annuals helping to carpet the
deserts with a ground-cover of flowers.

Although much more delicate, longer stemmed, and less coarse and robust
than the common Dandelion, the flowers sufficiently resemble those of
the better-known yellow Dandelion to stimulate recognition.

Desert-Dandelion is found below 4,000 feet in desert situations from
western Texas to Lower California and northward to southern Utah.


                    [Illustration: Nerium oleander]

  Common name: OLEANDER
  Arizona, California, and Texas deserts. (_Nerium oleander_). White,
          yellow, or red. Spring and summer.
  Dogbane family. Size: Robust, spreading shrub up to 20 feet high.

Well known and widely grown because of its large clusters of red or
white blossoms and glossy, evergreen leaves, the Oleander is one of the
handsomest shrubs found under cultivation in towns and cities of the
desert. Requiring sub-tropical conditions, easily rooted from cuttings,
and rapid in growth, the Oleander thrives in Southwestern desert areas
if supplied with plenty of water. It is used individually and as
hedgerows in ornamental plantings.

Although blossoms may be present at almost any time of year, the
principal flowering season extends from early spring well through the
summer. Both the red-flowered and the white-flowered plants are popular
and may be grown separately or intermixed. Recently a yellow-flowered
form has come into use.

These handsome shrubs immediately attract the attention of northerners
visiting desert towns, and arouse their curiosity as to their identity.


                [Illustration: Nemacladus glanduliferus]

  Common name: THREADPLANT
  Arizona desert. (_Nemacladus glanduliferus_). Purple-white. March-May.
  California desert. (_Nemacladus rigidus_). Purple-white. March-May.
  Bellflower family. Size: 2 to 12 inches tall.

The tiny, slender-stemmed, profusely-branched Threadplant is so small
that it is completely overlooked by the majority of visitors to the
Southwest, yet it is one of the most common and most attractive of
desert flowers. Under a magnifying glass, the shape and coloring of the
minute, delicate flowers make them appear as beautiful as orchids. The
white flowers are touched with tints of red, brown, yellow, or purple.

Plants are abundant below 1,800 feet elevation on dry, gravelly or rocky
soils, frequently along the shoulders of highways from Nevada throughout
western Arizona and southern California to Lower California. Be on the
lookout for this small but interesting and beautiful plant.


                    [Illustration: Cuscuta indecora]

  Common name: DODDER
  Arizona and Texas deserts. (_Cuscuta indecora_). White. July-August.
  California desert. (_Cuscuta denticulata_). Pale yellow. July-August.
  Convolvulus family. Size: Vine-like, covering host plant.

Rootless, leafless, and with pale yellow to brownish stems which twine
in vine-like embrace about the host, the parasitic Dodders are
immediately noticeable because of their strange appearance.

Frequently the automobile traveler’s attention is arrested by a pale
yellowish blotch in the green of the roadside vegetation. Examination
shows this to be caused by the matted yellowish stems and the white to
pale yellow, fleshy blossoms. These flowers are attractive and often
abundant enough to make a showy display.

Dodder is found widespread throughout the United States and is often a
serious parasitic pest on crops of economic importance. Desert species
are usually found infesting Mesquite, Goldenrod, Aster, Burrobush,
Seepwillow, and Arrowweed. Although certain Dodders show a preference in
choosing hosts (_C. denticulata_ common on Creosotebush), most of them
grow readily upon various plants.


                    [Illustration: Yucca brevifolia]

  California desert. (_Yucca brevifolia_). Green-white. February-April.
  Lily family. Size: 15 to 35 feet high; spread of 20 feet.

Because the presence of the grotesque Joshua-tree marks, more
effectively than any other plant, the limits and extent of the Mohave
Desert, this species is worthy of special recognition. This tree Yucca
holds, in the Mohave Desert, similar status to the Saguaro in the
Sonoran Desert. Strangely enough, in west-central Arizona, the Saguaro
and Joshua-tree are found growing together and there the Sonoran and
Mohave Deserts overlap.

And, just as in southern Arizona an area has been set aside as Saguaro
National Monument to preserve and protect that species, so in southern
California we find the Joshua Tree National Monument.

The Joshua-tree is outstanding among the many species of Yucca because
of its short leaves growing in dense bunches or clusters, and because
the plant has a definite trunk with numerous branches forming a crown.
Great forests of these sturdy trees are found in parts of southern
California, southern Nevada, southwestern Utah, and northwestern Arizona
where rainfall averages 8 to 10 inches per year.

Flowers of this Yucca develop as tight clusters of greenish-white buds
at the ends of the branches, but do not open wide as do the flowers of
other Yuccas. Joshua-trees do not bloom every year, the interval
apparently being determined by rainfall and temperature. Birds, a small
lizard, wood rats, and several species of insects are closely associated
with the Joshua-tree, making use of it for food, shelter, or
nest-building materials. Indians use the smallest roots, which are red,
for patterns in their baskets.

The name “Joshua-tree” was given by the Mormons because the tree seemed
to be lifting its arms in supplication as did the Biblical Joshua.


                      [Illustration: Yucca torreyi
                            Yucca schidigera
                            Yucca arizonica]

          (_DATIL_), SOAPWEED
  Arizona desert. (_Yucca arizonica_). Creamy. April-May.
  California desert. (_Yucca schidigera_). White-purple. March-April.
  Texas desert. (_Yucca torreyi_). Creamy. March-April.
  Lily family. Size: Reaches height of 10 to 15 feet.

Although, in general, the Broad-leafed Yuccas do not reach tree size,
the Giant Dagger (_Yucca carnerosana_) of Big Bend National Park reaches
a height of 20 feet. In dense stands or “forests” these Yuccas, with
their huge clusters of creamy, wax-like, lightly scented, bell-shaped
flowers produce a never-to-be-forgotten display in blooming season.

The Yucca is the state flower of New Mexico.

Yuccas are often confused by newcomers to the desert with three other
groups of plants: the _Agaves_ (Century Plant), _Dasylirion_ (Sotol) and
_Nolinas_ (Beargrass).

The plate on the opposite page has been devoted to a comparison of the
four groups, and by studying it carefully, the characteristics by which
each may be identified can be determined.

Yucca leaf fibers have long been used by Indians for fabricating rope,
matting, sandals, basketry, and coarse cloth. Indians also ate the buds,
flowers, and emerging flower stalks. The large, pulpy fruits were eaten
raw or roasted, and the seeds ground into meal.

Roots of the Yuccas have saponifying properties and are still gathered
by some tribes and used as soap, especially for washing the hair.
Flowers are browsed by livestock. (See Narrow-leaf Yuccas and
Joshua-tree). _Yucca baccata_, a broad-leaf species found in the
Southwest outside of the desert areas, is discussed in “Flowers of the
Southwest Mesas.”


  Arizona desert: (_Nolina microcarpa_). Tan-cream. May-June.
  California desert: (_Nolina parryi_). White-cream. May-June.
  Texas desert: (_Nolina erumpens_). White-cream. May-June.
  Lily family. Size: Ragged clumps 4 to 8 feet in diameter and flower
          stalks up to 8 feet high.

The _Nolinas_ are sometimes confused with Sotol and the _Yuccas_ and
occasionally with the _Agaves_. However, the _Nolinas_ resemble huge
clumps of long-bladed grass, whereas Sotol leaves are ribbon-like and
_Yucca_ leaves taper to a sharp point. Flower stalks of the _Nolinas_
are usually drooping and plume-like, and the numerous flowers are tiny.
The many papery, dry-winged fruits often remain on the stalk until late

Beargrass does not grow on the flat mesas or sandy flats as do the
Yuccas, but is confined to exposed locations on rocky slopes above the
3,000-foot elevation. The Parry Nolina of the California Desert is a
larger and more spectacular plant than the species found in the Arizona
and Texas-New Mexico Deserts. Indians are reported to use the very young
flower stalks for food. Leaves are browsed by livestock in times of
drought, sometimes with harmful results in the case of sheep or goats.

                     [Illustration: Nolina parryi]


                   [Illustration: Dasylirion wheeleri
                             Agave palmeri
                              Yucca elata
                           Nolina microcarpa]

  Arizona desert: (_Dasylirion wheeleri_). Creamy. May-August.
  Texas desert: (_Dasylirion leiophyllum_). Creamy. May-August.
  Lily family. Size: Leaves 3 feet; flower stem 5 to 15 feet.

At first glance, this plant may readily be mistaken for a Yucca, but its
ribbon-like leaves (which are usually split at the tips instead of
sharp-pointed) and tiny flowers instead of the bell-like blossoms of the
Yucca, are distinguishing characteristics. The round heads of these
plants grow close to the ground with the thick, woody stem beneath the
soil. Leaves, when stripped from the head, come away with a broad,
curving blade.

                    [Illustration: Plant silhouette]

When trimmed and polished, they are sold as curios called “desert
spoons.” In some portions of the desert near large cities, exploitation
of the plants for this purpose has endangered the species and aroused
the ire of conservationists.

The cabbage-like base, after the leaves are removed, is split and fed to
livestock as an emergency ration during periods of drought.

The rounded heads of these plants are high in sugar which is dissolved
in the sap of the bud stalk. This sap, when gathered and fermented,
produces a potent beverage called “sotol,” which is the “bootleg” of
northern Mexico.


  Arizona and Texas deserts: (_Yucca elata_). Creamy. May-July.
  California desert: (_Yucca whipplei_). Creamy-white. May-June.
  Lily family. Clumps 8-12 feet; _Y. elata_ sometimes to 20 feet.


The Narrow-leaf Yuccas are frequently confused with the _Agaves_
(Century plant), _Dasylirion_ (Sotol), and _Nolinas_ (Beargrass) but may
readily be recognized by the fibers protruding from the margins of the
leaves. To permit comparison and bring out the differences so that the
four groups may be recognized and confusion avoided, sketches of all
four appear on the same plate (p. 21).

In many grassland areas of western Texas and southern New Mexico, _Y.
elata_ dominates the landscape for miles. This species has been used as
emergency rations for range stock during periods of drought, the chopped
stems being mixed with concentrates such as cottonseed meal. A
substitute for jute has been made from the leaf fibers. Indians eat the
young flower stalks, which grow rapidly and are relatively tender.

In its relationship with a moth of the genus _Pronuba_, the Yucca
illustrates one of Nature’s interesting partnerships. The moth, which
visits the Yucca flowers at night, lays her eggs in the ovary of a
flower where the larvae will feed upon the developing seeds. But to be
sure that the seeds do develop, the moth must place pollen on the stigma
of the flower. Dependent upon the moth for this vital act of
pollenization, the Yucca repays its winged benefactor by sacrificing
some of its developing seeds as food for the moth’s larvæ. Fruits of the
Narrow-leaf are dry capsules in contrast to the fleshy fruits of the
Broad-leaf Yuccas.

                    [Illustration: Plant silhouette]

_Yucca whipplei_ is a much smaller plant than _Y. elata_, but produces a
stouter flower stalk with a great spreading plume of small, delicate
flowers. These graceful plumes appear at night as if aglow with an inner
light, hence the name “Our Lord’s Candle.” (See Broad-leaf Yucca [p. 19]
and Joshua-tree [p. 18].)

                 [Illustration: Clematis ligusticifolia
                          Clematis drummondi]

  Arizona and Texas deserts: (_Clematis drummondi_). Cream.
  California desert: (_Clematis ligusticifolia_). Cream. May-September.
  Crowfoot family. Size: Climbing, vine-like perennial with stems 6 to 8
          feet long.

By no means limited to the desert, Clematis is found throughout the
Southwest. Several species are grown as ornamentals, foliage, flower
clusters and the cotton-like masses of hairy fruits all being effective.
Petals are absent or rudimentary, the sepals which furnish color to the
blossoms being either creamy or purplish-brown. The name “Leatherflower”
has been applied to the latter group.


                  [Illustration: Phragmites communis]

  Arizona, California, and Texas deserts: (_Phragmites communis_).
          Creamy. July-October.
  Grass family. Size: 8 to 12 feet tall.

Among the largest of the grasses, the Common Reed and its close relative
Giantreed (_Arundo donax_) with their jointed stems resembling Bamboo,
are coarse perennials with broad, flat, grass-like leaves found in
marshes and stock tanks, along irrigation canals, and on river banks
throughout the desert country of the Southwest. Common Reed is found
throughout the world where conditions are suitable. The flower stalks
are long, tassel-like, and at the ends of the stems.

In Arizona and New Mexico, Common Reed is called _Carrizo_. The hollow
stems were used by the Indians for making arrow shafts, prayer sticks,
pipe stems, and loom rods. Mats, screens, nets, and cordage, as well as
thatching, are made from the leaves. The plants are useful as windbreaks
and in controlling soil erosion along streams.


                  [Illustration: Baccharis glutinosa]

  Arizona and Texas deserts: (_Baccharis glutinosa_). Creamy.
  California desert: (_Baccharis sarathroides_). Yellow-white.
  Sunflower family. Size: Up to 7 feet tall.

Genus _Baccharis_ is composed, in the desert, of coarse shrubs with a
number of common species. The flowers themselves are not beautiful, but
the female plants with their flower heads that develop glaring-white
pappus hairs, are spectacular and quite attractive.

_B. glutinosa_ is a common shrub along watercourses, often forming dense
thickets. The straight stems are used in native houses as matting across
ceiling timbers to support the mud roof. _B. sarathroides_ and several
other species are often referred to as the Desert Brooms. They are
common along desert washes and roadsides in sandy soil, their pale
yellow, bristly flower heads, during the fall and winter months,
appearing in sharp contrast to the vivid green branchlets and dark stems
of the bushes. Among some Indians, the stems are chewed as a toothache


                    [Illustration: Plantago purshi]

  Arizona desert: (_Plantago purshi_). Buff. February-July.
  California desert: (_Plantago insularis_). Straw. January-May.
  Texas-New Mexico desert: (_Plantago argyraea_). Straw. June-August.
  Plantain family. Size: A few inches to 2 feet tall.

Plantains are not noted for the beauty of their blossoms but the larger,
coarser species are sufficiently noticeable to attract attention, both
in their blossoming and fruiting stages. The smaller winter annuals
known as Indianwheat carpet the desert floor, in January and February,
in some places, producing a straw-colored “pile” of tiny blossom spikes.


                   [Illustration: Opuntia leptocaulis
                          Opuntia ramosissima
                           Opuntia bigelovi]

  Arizona and Texas deserts: (_Opuntia leptocaulis_). Green-yellow.
  California desert: (_Opuntia ramosissima_). Green-yellow.
  Cactus family. Size: Much branched, shrubby, 2 to 4 feet tall.

Flowers of these small, slender-stemmed, shrubby chollas (CHOH-yahs) are
small, sparse, and so inconspicuous as to be rarely noticed. However,
the fruits, particularly those of _O. Leptocaulis_, are scarlet,
egg-shaped, about 1 inch in length, and occur in such profusion that
they immediately attract attention to the plants during the late fall
and winter months, giving these plants the appropriate name of Christmas

A large Cholla, _O. bigelovi_, also has greenish to pale yellow flowers
but inconspicuous fruits and short, heavy joints so densely covered with
silvery spines as to give it the name Teddybear Cholla. Found in south
central and southwestern Arizona and westward into southern California,
southern Nevada, and south into Sonora and Lower California, the Silver
Cholla is noticeable at any season. Propagation is chiefly by joints
which drop from the plant and take root, the new plants forming dense
thickets on desert hillsides. Because the joints are so easily detached,
they actually seem to jump at a passerby, this characteristic giving the
plant the name Jumping Cactus.


               [Illustration: Phoradendron californicum]

  Arizona and California deserts: (_Phoradendron californicum_).
          Yellow-green. March.
  Texas-New Mexico deserts: (_Phoradendron cockerelli_). Yellow-green.
  Mistletoe family. Size: Pendant, vine-like strands several feet long.

Because they form conspicuous, dense, shapeless masses in Mesquite,
Ironwood, Acacia, Cottonwood, or other trees (depending upon the species
of Mistletoe), these parasitic plants attract the attention and arouse
the curiosity of persons unfamiliar with the desert. _P. macrophyllum_,
which parasitizes Cottonwood trees, is widespread throughout the
Southwest, and, because of its large gray-green leaves and glistening
white berries is much in demand as a Christmas green. The Mistletoe is
the state flower of Oklahoma.

The species of Mistletoe that parasitize such trees as Ironwood,
Mesquite, and Catclaw have small, scale-like tawny-brown leaves and
stems. The tiny yellow-green flowers which appear in spring are fragrant
and secrete nectar which attracts Honeybees and other insects. The
handsome coral-pink berries are a major food, during the winter months,
for Phainopeplas and other birds. The Arizona Verdin often builds its
nest in the protected center of a clump of Mistletoe. Birds are believed
to be instrumental in spreading this parasite from tree to tree.

Mistletoe saps the energy of the host tree and, where abundant, may
cause considerable damage, killing branches and sometimes the entire
tree. Papago Indians dry the berries in the sun and store them for
winter food.


                 [Illustration: Nicotiana trigonophylla
                           Nicotiana glauca]

  Arizona and Texas deserts: (_Nicotiana glauca_). Pale yellow. All
  California desert: (_Nicotiana trigonophylla_). Green-yellow. All
  Potato family. Size: Tree-tobacco (_N. glauca_) up to 12 feet.
          Desert-tobacco, 1 to 3 feet high.

Several species of wild tobacco are found in the desert. Of these,
Tree-tobacco is conspicuous because of its rank growth, its large
leaves, and the spectacular clusters of tubular, yellow flowers. In
addition to nicotine, Tree-tobacco contains an alkaloid, anabasine. This
conspicuous plant occurs in moist locations below 3,000 feet elevation
and bears flowers throughout the entire year. Although now thoroughly
naturalized in the Southwest, it is a native of South America.

Desert-tobacco, sometimes perennial in southwestern Arizona, is a
dark-green herb common and widespread throughout the desert areas of the
Southwest. It is not nearly as noticeable as its larger relative
although it, too, blossoms the year around. Flowers are a pale yellow,
almost greenish-white. It provides dense ground cover in rocky canyons
and along desert washes.

Leaves, which are somewhat bad smelling, were smoked (and still are
during ceremonials) by the Yuma and Havasupai Indians who are reported
to have cleared land, burned the brush, and scattered the seeds of
Desert-tobacco in an effort to promote the growth of strong plants with
many large leaves.


                   [Illustration: Calycoseris wrighti
                          Calycoseris parryi]

  Common Names: TACKSTEM
  Arizona desert: (_Calycoseris wrighti_). White. March-May.
  California desert: (_Calycoseris parryi_). Yellow. March-April.
  Sunflower family. Size: 4 inches to a foot tall.

One of the handsomest of desert spring annuals, _Calycoseris_ is common
on plains, mesas, and rocky slopes at elevations between 1,200 and 4,000
feet from western Texas to southern Utah, southern California, and south
into Mexico.

The name Tackstem comes from the presence of numerous tack-shaped glands
which protrude from the stems.

Taking advantage of the cool, moist weather of winter, the Tackstems
produce their beautiful rose, white, or yellow blossoms in early spring,
and mature their seeds before the advent of hot, dry weather.


                   [Illustration: Brickellia coulteri
                        Brickellia californica]

  Arizona desert: (_Brickellia coulteri_). Yellow-white. September.
  California desert: (_Brickellia desertorum_). Pale yellow. Midsummer.
  Texas-New Mexico deserts: (_Brickellia californica_). Yellow-white.
  Sunflower family. Size: Small, much-branched perennial shrub, up to 3
          feet in height.

Intricately branched and brittle-stemmed, this shrub with blossom heads
holding from 8 to 18 yellowish flowers is common throughout the
Southwest from western Texas and Colorado to Nevada, Sonora and Lower

It grows among rocks and in rocky locations throughout much of the
desert country from 3,000 up to 7,000 feet.


                     [Illustration: Zinnia pumila]

  Common Names: WILD-ZINNIA
  Arizona and Texas deserts: (_Zinnia pumila_). Pale yellow.
  Sunflower family. Size: Low, dense-growing perennials in rounded
          clumps, 4 to 8 inches high.

Closely related to the garden Zinnia, which is a native of Mexico,
desert Zinnias are attractive herbs suitable for trial as ornamental
border plantings.

_Z. pumila_ prefers caliche soils and is found on dry mesas and slopes
from Texas westward to southern Arizona and northern Mexico. It is often
found blossoming in association with the Paperflower (_Psilostrophe
cooperi_) which it superficially resembles. The pale yellow flowers of
the Wild-zinnia turn white with age.

_Z. pumila_ may be easily recognized by the single heavy rib running the
length of each narrow leaf.


                     [Illustration: Acacia greggi]

  Arizona, California, and Texas deserts: (_Acacia greggi_). Pale
          yellow. April-October.
  Pea family. Size: Up to 20 feet tall.

The numerous thorns, short and curved like a cat’s claw, serve readily
to identify this common, often abundant, shrub or small tree.

There are several species, some with large, bright-yellow flowers, but
_A. greggi_ is the most common and occurs throughout all of the deserts
of the Southwest, at elevations below 4,000 feet, often forming thickets
along streams and washes.

Flowers, like pale yellow, fuzzy caterpillars, are one of the important
sources of nectar for honeybees, the trees being alive with insects
during the period of heaviest blooming in April and May.

In mid-August, the light green fruit pods begin to turn reddish and, if
abundant, make a colorful display.

Seeds of the Catclaw were at one time widely used as food by the Indians
of Arizona and Mexican tribes. They were ground into meal and eaten as
mush or cakes.

Catclaw is one of the most heartily disliked plants in the Southwest,
especially by riders and hikers, because of the strong thorns which tear
clothing and lacerate the flesh.


                    [Illustration: Ephedra trifurca
                          E. antisyphilitica]

          (_TEPOSOTE_), (_CANATILLA_)
  Arizona and Texas deserts: (_Ephedra trifurca_). Pale yellow. Spring.
  California desert: (_Ephedra californica_). Pale yellow. Spring.
  Jointfir family. Size: Harsh, stringy perennials, from 2 to 10 feet
          tall and sometimes 5 or 6 feet in diameter.

Apparently leafless, these common Southwestern shrubs do have leaves,
although they are reduced to tiny scales. The harsh, stringy stems are
green to yellow-green and, when dried, were used with the flowers in
making a palatable brew, particularly by the Utah pioneers; hence the
names Mormon-tea and Brigham-tea. The beverage was also popular with
Indians and settlers in treating syphilis and other afflictions, as it
contains tannin and certain alkaloids. Flowers are small, pale yellow,
and appear in the spring at which time the plants are quite noticeable,
and attract large numbers of insects.


                [Illustration: Heterotheca subaxillaris]

  Arizona and Texas deserts: (_Heterotheca subaxillaris_). Pale yellow.
  Sunflower family. Size: Grows 2 to 6 feet tall.

The flowers are not particularly attractive, but become conspicuous as
the seed-heads develop, because of the white, densely-haired tufts.
Stems are tall and straight “like telegraph poles,” and the crushed
leaves give off a slight camphor-like odor.

Although the plant occurs from the east coast across the southern
portion of the United States, it is found in the desert at elevations
between 1,000 and 5,000 feet.

Camphor-weed is a tall, coarse, robust, straight-stemmed plant which is
abundant and conspicuous along roads and ditchbanks, and in the open
desert following winters of heavy precipitation.


                   [Illustration: Cercidium floridum
                        Cercidium microphyllum]

  Arizona deserts: (_Cercidium microphyllum_). Pale yellow. April-May.
  Arizona desert. (_Cercidium floridum_). Bright yellow. April-May.
  Pea family. Size: Green-barked tree up to 25 feet high.

Arizona Paloverdes (meaning green stick) are large shrubs or small trees
abundant along washes in the hotter, drier portions of the Sonoran
Desert. When in blossom in the springtime, they appear as masses of pale
yellow or golden bloom, and are a glorious sight, both as individual
trees and massed as borders along the courses of washes which they mark
with a line of color winding across the desert floor. During the dry
season, they are without leaves, but are readily recognized by the bark,
yellowish green in the case of _C. microphyllum_; blue green in _C.

After the petals form, seeds form in bean-like pods which are not
relished by livestock, but are eaten during periods of drought and when
other forage is scarce. Indians ground the seeds into meal.

When the trees are in blossom, they attract myriads of insects, some of
which, including Honeybees, seek the nectar. Wood is soft and the
branches are brittle and easily broken. It is unsuited for fuel as it
burns rapidly, leaves no coals, and gives off an unpleasant odor.


                 [Illustration: Polanisia trachysperma]

  Common name: CLAMMYWEED
  Arizona desert: (_Polanisia trachysperma_). Pale yellow.
  Texas desert: (_Polanisia uniglandulosa_). Pale yellow.
  Caper family. Size: 1 to 3 feet tall.

Clammyweed is not limited in its range to desert areas, but is found as
far north as Saskatchewan and British Columbia. However, it is also a
common annual in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona at elevations between
1,200 and 6,000 feet, and is usually found in abundance in the sandy
channels of dry stream beds.

It somewhat resembles both Yellow Beeweed (_Cleome lutea_) and
Jackass-clover (_Wislizenia refracta_.)


                  [Illustration: Tribulus terrestris]

  Arizona, California, and Texas deserts: (_Tribulus terrestris_). Pale
          yellow. Summer.
  Caltrop family. Size: Prostrate, stems 2 to 6 feet long.

A troublesome annual vine-like weed naturalized from southern Europe,
the Puncturevine has established itself throughout the Southwest below
7,000 feet. Although fairly readily controlled by cultivation, the plant
spreads rapidly in sandy, dry wastelands, often taking over vacant lots
in towns, and areas in the desert where it finds sufficient moisture.

The fruits, which are produced in quantities, are armed with strong
spurs which become embedded in the feet and fur of animals and in
automobile tires. Fruits are also carried by irrigation or flood waters.
Although the spurs are too short to puncture automobile tires, they make
bicycles almost useless in some localities, and are an aggravation to
children who go barefoot—and to dogs.

Flowers and fruits in various stages of maturity may be found on this
fast-growing plant at almost any time during the summer months.
Botanically, Puncturevine is closely related to the Creosotebush and
also to the Arizona-poppy.


                [Illustration: Kallstroemia grandiflora]

  Arizona and Texas deserts: (_Kallstroemia grandiflora_). Bright
          yellow. February-September.
  Caltrop family. Size: 1 to 2 feet tall.

Although superficially resembling in size, shape, and color the blossoms
of the Goldpoppy, the blossoms of the large-flowered Caltrop have five
petals instead of four, and the plant is a close relative of the
Puncturevine and the Creosotebush. One of the most attractive of the
desert’s summer annuals, Arizona-poppy is found at elevations below
5,000 feet in the drylands of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and northern

Large-flowered Caltrop may be distinguished from Goldpoppy by (1)
sprawling open habit of growth, (2) compound leaves, (3) season of
blossoming, and (4) the fact that the plants grow singly rather than in


                   [Illustration: Larrea tridentata]

  Arizona, California, and Texas deserts: (_Larrea tridentata_). Yellow.
  Caltrop family. Size: Shrub, 2 to 8 feet high.

No one could justifiably question the statement that Creosotebush is the
most successful, widespread, and readily recognized desert plant of the
hot, arid regions of North America. It often occurs over wide areas in
such pure stands as to constitute true _Larrea_ plains. Its common
companion is the grayish Burrobush or Bur-sage.

Following winter rains, the Creosotebush may put out a few yellow
blossoms in January, but usually bursts into full flower in April or
May, to be followed in a short time with the equally spectacular fuzzy
white seed balls making the bushes appear to be covered with a light
frosting of snow. After a rain, the plants give off a musty, resinous
odor which is the basis of the Mexican name _Hediondilla_ (freely
translated, “Little Stinker”). Lac occurs as a resinous incrustation on
the branches, and was used by the Indians for mending pottery, making
mosaics, and for fixing arrow points.

Leaves of the Creosotebush are covered with a “varnish” which often
glistens in the sunlight, and helps reduce evaporative moisture loss,
thereby enabling the plant to resist the desiccating effect of hot, dry


                  [Illustration: Wislizenia refracta]

  Common name: JACKASS-CLOVER
  Arizona desert: (_Wislizenia refracta_). Yellow. May-September.
  Caper family. Size: Up to 4 feet in height.

Conspicuous in late summer along roadsides and dry streambeds, the large
number of yellow flowers and the widespread presence of these much
branched, annual plants justify the inclusion of Jackass-clover in this
booklet as one of the common flowers of the desert.

The plant ranges across the Southwest from western Texas to southern
California at elevations between 1,000 and 6,500 feet. The flowers
themselves are small, although the flower heads are quite conspicuous.

Since the leaves somewhat resemble the tri-foliate leaves of Clover, the
plant is commonly called Jackass-clover. It is usually found in sandy


                  [Illustration: Oenothera primiveris
                              O. brevipes
                              O. deltoides
                            O. cardiophylla]

  Arizona and California deserts: (_Oenothera brevipes_). Yellow.
  Texas-New Mexico deserts: (_Oenothera primiveris_). Yellow. March-May.
  Evening-primrose family. Size: Usually low, but some up to 5 feet.

Among the commonest but most beautiful and delicate of the flowering
plants of the desert are the Evening-primroses. Flowers are usually
large, with the four petals either white or yellow, turning to red or
pink with age. Many species are low-growing herbs with large, delicate
petals; while others may be shrub-like, sometimes attaining a height of
5 feet. As the name implies, the flowers open in the evening and wilt
soon after sunrise.

In the low, warmer sections of the desert, plants in blossom may be
found as early as February.


                   [Illustration: Berberis trifoliata
                         Berberis haematocarpa]

  Arizona desert: (_Berberis haematocarpa_). Yellow. February-April.
  California desert: (_Berberis fremonti_). Yellow. May-July.
  Texas desert. (_Berberis trifoliolata_). Yellow. Spring.
  Barberry family. Size: Shrubs, 3 to 8 feet.

The pendant clusters of golden blossoms are particularly noticeable
because of their delightful fragrance, and the small purple berries are
juicy and of pleasant flavor. They make excellent jelly and are readily
eaten by birds and some of the small mammals. Due to the holly-like
leaves and the fragrant blossoms and fruits, the plants would make
attractive ornamentals for landscape and decorative plantings were it
not for the fact that they are secondary hosts for the black stem rust
of the cereals, hence cannot be used in communities where grains are
grown. Indians use the root as a tonic, and obtain from it a brilliant
yellow dye.

Some botanists prefer to use the generic name _Mahonia_ or _Odostemon_
for this group of plants.


                  [Illustration: Lesquerella gordoni]

  Common names: BLADDERPOD, BEAD-POD
  Arizona and Texas deserts: (_Lesquerella gordoni_). Yellow.
  California desert: (_Lesquerella palmeri_). Yellow. March-May.
  Mustard family. Size: 6 to 8 inches high.

Extensive sections of the desert are gilded in springtime with this
low-growing annual herb which is one of the earliest of the desert

Following moist winters, it covers dry mesas and plains below 4,000 feet
from Oklahoma west to Utah, and southward into northern Mexico. After
the seed pods have matured, the plant is reported to furnish valuable
forage for range stock.


                   [Illustration: Cucurbita digitata
                        Cucurbita foetidissima]

  Arizona desert: (_Cucurbita digitata_). Yellow. June-October.
  California desert: (_Cucurbita palmata_). Yellow. July-September.
  Texas desert: (_Cucurbita foetidissima_). Yellow. May-August.
  Gourd family. Size: Trailing perennial with stems 4 to 15 feet long.

Gourds are conspicuous, trailing, rank-growing plants common along
roadsides and in the open desert. Leaves are grayish-green, and blossoms
yellow and trumpet-shaped. The striped fruits are about the size and
shape of a tennis ball, although some are egg-shaped.

The fruits which are very conspicuous after the vines and leaves have
been winter-killed, are sometimes collected, painted in gay colors, and
used as ornaments about the house.

Although Indians considered the fruits as inferior and suitable only for
coyotes, they ate them either cooked or dried, and made the seeds into a
mush. Pioneers used the crushed roots of these plants as a cleansing
agent in washing clothes.


                  [Illustration: Amsinckia tessellata]

  Common names: FIDDLENECK
  Arizona desert: (_Amsinckia intermedia_). Yellow. Spring.
  California desert: (_Amsinckia tessellata_). Yellow. Spring.
  Borage family. Size: Bristly erect herbs, 8 to 18 inches.

An annual of the Creosotebush belt, and very abundant on gravelly or
sandy soils in dry, open places, Fiddleneck is found from western New
Mexico to California and north to eastern Washington.

_A. tessellata_ occurs also in Chile and Argentina. Plants are reported
to make good spring forage where they grow in heavy stands, but
indications have been found that cirrhosis of the liver may result in
cattle, sheep and horses that eat the nutlets.

Following moist winters, Fiddleneck is often so abundant as to form vast
fields of yellow or orange-yellow blossoms, especially on the Mohave
Desert in southern California.

The curling habit of the opening flower heads somewhat resembles the
neck of a violin, hence the name.


                   [Illustration: Flourensia cernua]

  Arizona and Texas deserts: (_Flourensia cernua_). Yellow.
  Sunflower family. Size: A small shrub 3 feet, occasionally 6 or 7 feet

These resinous, much-branched, perennial shrubs are found on plains and
mesas at elevations around 4,000 feet from western Texas to eastern
Arizona and south into Mexico. The yellow, nodding flower heads are
small, and the leaves have a hop-like odor and a bitter flavor
unpalatable to cattle.

In northern Mexico the leaves and dried flower heads are sold in the
drug markets under the name of _hojase_, recommended, in the form of a
brew, as a remedy for indigestion.


                   [Illustration: Prosopis pubescens
                          Prosopis juliflora]

  Arizona, California and Texas deserts: (_Prosopis juliflora_). Yellow.
  Pea family. Size: Tree 15 to 25, rarely 30 feet high.

Mesquite (mess-KEET) is one of the commonest and most widespread of
desert trees, often growing in extensive thickets. It occurs at
elevations below 5,000 feet, usually along streams, desert washes, or in
locations where the water table is relatively high, from Kansas to
California and south into Mexico. Roots are reported to penetrate to a
depth of 60 feet with more wood below ground than above. In some parts
of the desert, blowing sand settles around Mesquite clumps forming
hummocks through which rodents tunnel.

The numerous branches are armed with sturdy, straight thorns. In the
spring when covered with bright green leaves and laden with catkin-like
clusters of greenish-yellow flowers, Mesquite is a particularly handsome
shrub or tree. Blossoms are fragrant and attract myriads of insects,
including Honeybees.

During pioneer days, Mesquite wood was of the utmost importance to
settlers as fuel, and was also used extensively in building corrals and
in making furniture and utensils. With the exception of Ironwood,
Mesquite is the best firewood to be found in the desert, giving off a
characteristic aroma and forming a long-lived bed of coals.

Fruits of the Mesquite, which resemble string beans, ripen in autumn and
are eaten by domestic livestock and other animals. They are rich in
sugar and still form a staple food among natives. Indians made wide use
of Mesquite, the fruits often carrying them over periods when their
crops failed. _Pinole_, a meal made by grinding the long, sweet pods,
was served in many ways. When fermented, it formed a favorite
intoxicating drink of the Pimas. The gum, which exudes through the bark,
was eaten as candy, and was used as a pottery-mending cement, and as a
black dye.


  Arizona, Texas, and California deserts: (_Prosopis pubescens_).
          Yellow. May-June.
  Pea family. Size: Shrub, or tree up to 20 feet.

Although the Screwbean, so called because of the tight spiral curl
formed by the seed pod, is not as common as Honey Mesquite, it is nearly
as widespread, being found below 4,000 feet from western Texas to
southern Nevada, and southern California to northern Mexico. The
majority of the trees are small and shrubby.

Fruits, in common with those of Honey Mesquite, are used by Indians and
livestock for food. Bark from the roots was used by the Pima Indians to
treat wounds. Where abundant, the wood is used for fence posts, tool
handles, and fuel. Birds, particularly the Crissal Thrasher, make use of
the shreddy bark for nest-lining material.

Where Screwbean and Honey Mesquite grow together, they may be
distinguished in the winter when trees are leafless and fruits have
fallen or been removed by animals, by the gray-barked twigs of the
Screwbean, those of the Honey Mesquite being brownish red.

Some botanists prefer to classify Screwbean as genus _Strombocarpa_.


          [Illustration: Baeria chrysostoma variety gracilis]

  Common names: GOLDFIELDS
  Arizona desert: (_Baeria chrysostoma_). Yellow. March-May.
  Sunflower family. Size: Low growing, usually under 6 inches.

After winters of particularly heavy precipitation, these small
close-growing annuals with their sunflower-like blossoms cover large
patches of desert with a carpet of gold. Individual flowers are so small
and so inconspicuous among larger plants that they are easily passed
unnoticed, but millions of the plants all in blossom at the same time
make a spectacular display that attracts visitors from considerable

They occur in Arizona below 3,600 feet, westward to California, Lower
California, and north to Oregon. A plant of winter and early springtime,
Goldfields takes advantage of winter moisture and cool spring weather to
produce its flowers and mature its seeds. Thus it escapes the heat and
drought of the desert by lying dormant in the seed stage until the
moisture and cool temperatures of the following winter awaken it.

In common with Goldpoppy and other annuals that mature their seeds
before the summer heat descends upon the desert, Goldfields cannot
correctly be called a “desert plant.” Actually these are plants of
cooler climes which have found winter conditions in the desert ideal for
their needs and have established themselves.

These plants demonstrate effectively one method, that of escaping the
heat and drought, by which plants have adapted themselves to survival in
the desert. Like the winter tourist, they take advantage of ideal
climatic conditions of winter and spring. Since, unlike the winter
tourist, they cannot return north for the summer, they take the next
best course and pass through the hot, dry period in the dormancy of the
seed phase of their life cycles.


                 [Illustration: Enceliopsis argophylla]

  Common name: SUNRAY
  Arizona desert: (_Enceliopsis argophylla_). Bright yellow. April-June.
  California desert: (_Enceliopsis covillei_). Lemon-yellow. April-June.
  Sunflower family. Size: Perennial, 1 to 2½ feet tall.

The large, solitary, coarse flower heads with their yellow petals make
the Sunrays among the most impressive composites of the desert.

Flowers rise on stout stems above a luxuriant growth of leaves that make
the plants appear almost egotistical in their elegant arrogance.

They are at their best in sandy washes and on dry slopes at elevations
between 1,000 and 3,500 feet, often where other plants seem too hard
pressed eking out an existence to produce the garish foliage and bloom
achieved by the Sunray.


                    [Illustration: Geraea canescens]

  Arizona, California, and Texas deserts: (_Geraea canescens_). Yellow.
  Sunflower family. Size: An annual, 6 inches to 2 feet tall.

One of the showiest of the Sunflowers. Desert-sunflowers often form
sweet-scented gardens of luxuriant bloom along roadsides and in sandy
basins early in the spring.

Its seeds form a dependable source of food for small rodents, especially
Pocket Mice, which store them in quantities. Wild bees and Hummingbird
Moths are attracted to the fragrant flowers.

This species is common in areas of sandy soil below 1,500 feet in
elevation from Utah and southeastern Colorado to southern Arizona and
Sonora, Mexico. It is one of the showy roadside flowers of Organ Pipe
Cactus National Monument.


                    [Illustration: Encelia farinosa]

  Common names: BRITTLEBUSH, (_INCIENSO_)
  Arizona and California deserts: (_Encelia farinosa_). Yellow.
  Sunflower family. Size: Perennial shrubs, 2 to 3 feet high.

These low, branching shrubs with gray-green leaves are common on rocky
slopes and benches where they lighten the winter landscape with their
bright flower heads and create a spectacular mass of bloom during early
spring. Flower stems rise several inches above the brittle leaf-covered
branches, thus hiding the plant under a blanket of blossoms at the
height of the blooming period.

Plants are abundant on rocky slopes below 3,000 feet from southern
Nevada to Lower California and eastward through Arizona.

Stems exude a gum prized as incense by the early-day Catholic priests.
Indians chewed this gum, and also heated it to smear on their bodies for
the relief of pain.


                  [Illustration: Baileya multiradiata]

  Arizona and Texas deserts: (_Baileya multiradiata_). Yellow.
  California desert: (_Baileya pleniradiata_). Yellow. March-November.
  Sunflower family. Size: 4 inches up to 2 feet high.

This low-growing, woolly, annual herb with showy, yellow flowers on
long, solitary stems is one of the commonest bloomers gracing the desert
roadsides and making patches of bright color along otherwise drab and
dry, sandy desert washes. It is particularly noticeable because of its
luxurious crop of flowers and long period of bloom.

At first glance, Desert-marigold may be confused with Crownbeard, to
which it is quite similar in color, size, and habit of growing in
groups. However, the regular, circular shape of Marigold blooms and the
considerable difference in leaf shape make the two readily

In California, Desert-marigold is cultivated for the flower trade.

Fatal poisoning of sheep on over-grazed ranges has been laid at the door
of this plant, although horses crop the flower heads, apparently without
harmful effect. Blossom petals become bleached and papery as the
blossoms age, thus giving the plant in some localities the name

Desert-marigold, of which there are but few species, is common
throughout desert areas of the Southwest from Utah and Nevada to Lower
California, Sonora and Chihuahua.


                [Illustration: Aplopappus heterophyllus
                          Aplopappus gracilis]

  Arizona desert: (_Aplopappus lacrifolius_). Yellow. August-November.
  California desert: (_Aplopappus gracilis_). Yellow. February-November.
  Texas-New Mexico desert: (_Aplopappus heterophyllus_). Yellow.
  Sunflower family. Size: Herbs or small shrubs 2 to 18 inches.

The genus _Aplopappus_ (sometimes spelled _Haplopappus_) is represented
in the Southwest by a great many species, both annuals and perennials,
which range from elevations of 2,000 feet up to 9,000 feet. Desert forms
prefer open, dry canyon slopes and mesas.

_A. linearifolius_ is conspicuous in the springtime, at elevations
between 3,000 and 5,000 feet because of its many, showy flower heads.

_A. heterophyllus_ often takes over heavily grazed rangeland since it is
generally unpalatable to livestock and replaces vegetation destroyed by


                  [Illustration: Psilostrophe cooperi]

  Common name: PAPERFLOWER
  Arizona and Texas deserts: (_Psilostrophe cooperi_). Bright yellow.
          Year around.
  Texas-New Mexico deserts: (_Psilostrophe sparsiflora_). Bright yellow.
  Sunflower family. Size: Rounded bush 12 to 18 inches high.

One man of the writer’s acquaintance, confused by the great number of
yellow flowers on the desert, refers to them all as “yellow composites.”
The Paperflower is one of these.

It is noticeable because of the conspicuous, bright yellow flowers which
sometimes cover the plants almost completely, often during periods of
the year when bloom is quite scarce on the desert.

The flowers are persistent, petals become papery, fade to a pale yellow,
and remain on the plants intact for weeks.

Although the Paperflower does not form great masses of color, the
blossom-covered clumps are conspicuous among the Cactus, Mesquite, and
Creosotebush of the desert.

It is common at elevations below 5,000 feet from southern Utah to Lower
California, with similar species ranging eastward through southern New
Mexico and northern Chihuahua.

Some species are reported to be poisonous to sheep.


                  [Illustration: Cassia lindheimeriana
                          Cassia bauhinoides]

  Arizona desert: (_Cassia bauhinoides_). Yellow. May-August.
  California desert: (_Cassia armata_). Yellow. April-May.
  Texas desert: (_Cassia lindheimeriana_). Golden. June-September.
  Pea family. Size: Low, branching shrub up to 3 feet.

Members of this large genus are chiefly tropical, the majority having
golden to bronze flowers and brown, woody seed pods. They are quite
common along desert roadsides, and a few species are cultivated as

In some localities, following moist winters, Desert-senna bursts into a
riot of color in April and May adding a golden glory to the spring
floral display.

Representatives of the several desert species occur at elevations
between 2,000 and 5,000 feet from Texas westward to southern California
and south into Mexico.


                  [Illustration: Caesalpinia gilliesi]

  Arizona desert: (_Caesalpinia gilliesi_). Yellow-and-red. May-August.
  Pea family. Size: Shrub, up to 10 feet tall.

Widely grown as a decorative shrub by the people of Mexico, this
spectacular import from South America is quite commonly used as an
ornamental in yards and around houses in desert areas of the Southwest.
Under suitable conditions, it may escape and grow wild. The very showy
blossoms with yellow petals and long, thread-like, red filaments are
certain to attract attention.

In contrast to the striking showiness of the blossoms, the plant itself
is straggling and unsymmetrical, and gives off an unpleasant odor.


                   [Illustration: Opuntia engelmanni
                           Opuntia basilaris]

  Arizona desert: (_Opuntia engelmanni_). Yellow. April-June.
  California desert: (_Opuntia basilaris_). Magenta. March-April.
  Texas desert: (_Opuntia engelmanni_). Yellow. May-July.
  Cactus family. Size: Clumps, sometimes 5 feet high and 10 feet in

The flattened pods, or stem joints, of the Pricklypears growing, as they
do, in huge clumps make them the best known of the Cacti throughout the
West. There are many species found throughout the United States, but the
plants reach their greatest size and luxuriant growth in the desert
areas of the Southwest. The large, red to purple and mahogany, juicy,
pear-shaped fruits are known as _tunas_, and are eaten by many animals
as well as by the native peoples. Flowers are large and spectacular.

Although a number of species of Pricklypears are found in all of the
desert areas, _O. engelmanni_ with its bright yellow flowers is the
commonest form in both the Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts, while the
Beavertail cactus with its magenta flowers and lack of large spines is
the common and spectacular form of the Mohave Desert.

Pricklypears are increasing in parts of the desert where conditions are
favorable, especially where heavy grazing has given them an advantage
over plants that are favorable to livestock.


                  [Illustration: Ferocactus wislizeni]

          (_BISNAGA_), (_BISNAGRE_)
  Arizona desert: (_Ferocactus wislizeni_). Orange-yellow.
  California desert: (_Ferocactus acanthodes_). Yellow. March-May.
  Texas desert: (_Echinocactus horizonthalonius_). Rose-pink. May-June.
  Cactus family. Size: 2 to 8 feet high.

Well known among the desert figures are the heavy-bodied Barrel Cacti
which are sometimes pointed out as sources of water for travelers
suffering from thirst. Under extreme conditions, it is possible to hack
off the tops of these tough, spine-protected plants and obtain, by
squeezing the macerated tissues, enough juice to sustain life.

Growing faster on the shaded side, the taller-growing plants tend to
lean toward the south, hence the name “Compass” cactus. Flowers range in
color from yellow to orange and rose-pink, depending on the species, and
the pale yellow, egg-shaped fruits which ripen early in the winter, are
a favorite food of deer and rodents. Flowers, and the resulting fruits,
form a ring around the crown of the plant.

The flesh of the Barrel cactus, cooked in sugar, forms the base of
cactus candy.


                   [Illustration: Agave lechuguilla]

  Arizona desert: (_Agave palmeri_). Yellow-purple. July-Aug.
  California desert: (_Agave deserti_). Yellow. May.
  Texas-New Mexico desert: (_Agave lechuguilla_). Lavender-brown.
  Amaryllis family. Size: Flower stalks 8 to 25 feet tall.

Many species of Agave are found in various parts of the desert, hence it
is difficult to settle on those which should be given particular
recognition. Their blossoms, in general, are various shades of yellow.
The larger species are called Centuryplant or Mescal (mess-KAHL), while
the small ones are spoken of as Lechuguillas (letch-you-GHEE-ahs). The
Lechuguilla, covering hundreds of square miles in Texas, New Mexico, and
northern Mexico, is an indicator of the Chihuahuan Desert, holding the
position in that desert which the Saguaro does in the Sonoran desert and
the Joashua-tree in the Mohave Desert.

From its leaf fibers the Mexicans weave a coarse fabric. Its plumelike
flower stalks, relished by deer and cattle, form one of the spectacular
sights of the Chihuahuan Desert in springtime.


                    [Illustration: plant silhouette]

Agave plants require a number of years to store sufficient plant foods
for the production of the huge flower stalk which grows with amazing
rapidity to produce the many flowers and seeds, after which the plant
dies. This long pre-blossom period of a dozen to 15 or more years is the
basis for the name “Centuryplant.” If the young flower stalk is cut off,
the sweet sap may be collected and fermented to form highly intoxicating
beverages, some of which are distilled commercially. Among these are
mescal, pulque (POOL-kay), and tequila (tay-KEEL-ah). Indians cut the
young bud stalks, and roast them in rock-lined pits.

                  [Illustration: Calochortus kennedyi
                         Calochortus flexuosus]

  Arizona and California deserts: (_Calochortus kennedyi_). Orange.
  Lily family. Size: Perennial, about 2 feet tall.

Under favorable weather conditions, this short-stemmed Mariposa presents
a gorgeous display of spring color. Closely related to the
white-flowered Twisted-stem Mariposa (_C. flexuosus_) and to the
Sego-lily (state flower of Utah), the Desert-mariposa is found below
5,000 feet in Nevada, southern California, southern Arizona, and
northern Sonora. When growing beneath taller shrubs, it forsakes its
short-stemmed habit and forces its way up through the low branches,
displaying its blossom above.

The Mariposas, of which there are several species, are among the most
beautiful wildflowers of the Southwest.


                 [Illustration: Eschscholtzia mexicana]

  Arizona desert: (_Eschscholtzia mexicana_). Orange. February-May.
  California desert: (_Eschscholtzia glyptosperma_). Bright yellow.
  Poppy family. Size: 3 inches to a foot high, with many flower stems.

Because of their abundance and dense growth, following winters of heavy
precipitation, these annual poppies often cover portions of the desert
with “a cloth of gold.” They are closely related to the well-known
California Poppy, state flower of California, and a common border or
bedding plant in home flower gardens. In the desert, Goldpoppies are
sometimes mixed with Owlclover, Lupines, and other spring flowers
forming a multi-colored carpet that attracts visitors from great
distances. (See cover.)


                   [Illustration: Martynia arenaria]

  Arizona desert: (_Martynia parviflora_). Orange-purple. April-October.
  California desert: (_Martynia altheaefolia_). Coppery yellow.
  Texas desert: (_Martynia arenaria_). Coppery yellow. July-September.
  Martynia family. Size: Trailing, with stems 2 to 5 feet long.

The showy flowers, which are large enough to attract attention, are
relatively few. Even more spectacular are the large, black, woody pods
ending in two curved, prong-like appendages that hook about the fetlocks
of burros or the fleece of sheep, thereby carrying the pod away from the
mother plant and scattering the seeds. Young pods are sometimes eaten by
desert Indians as a vegetable, and the mature fruits are gathered by the
Pima and Papago Indians, who strip off the black outer covering and use
it in weaving designs into basketry.

Blossoms of the small-flowered species are reddish purple to white
streaked with orange and yellow, while the large-flowered species have
coppery yellow blossoms, the throat spotted with purple and the edge of
the cup streaked with orange.


                  [Illustration: Hymenoclea monogyra]

  Arizona and California deserts: (_Hymenoclea salsola_). Silvery red.
  Texas-New Mexico deserts: (_Hymenoclea monogyra_). Silvery red.
  Sunflower family. Size: Much-branched shrub, 2 to 3 feet tall.

Burrobush is another of the common desert shrubs whose fruits are much
more conspicuous than the blossoms. The shrub itself is bright green in
color, and somewhat resembles the common Russian-thistle. It is
widespread, and abundant in sandy washes, where it tends to form

In some localities it is called “Cheeseweed” because of the cheesy odor
of the crushed foliage.

It occurs throughout the Southwest at elevations below 4,000 feet, from
western Texas to southern California and northern Mexico.


                  [Illustration: Fouquieria splendens]

  Arizona, California and Texas deserts: (_Fouquieria splendens_).
          Bright red. April-May.
  Ocotillo family. Size: Up to 15 feet tall.

One of the few flower families restricted to the desert, the unique
Ocotillo (oh-koh-TEE-oh) with its long, unbranching stems is found on
rocky hillsides below 5,000 feet from western Texas to southern
California and south into Mexico. It is one of the commonest, queerest,
and most spectacular of desert plants, especially when the tips of its
long, slender stems seem afire with dense clusters of bright red
blossoms. Following rains, leaves clothe the thorny stems with green,
but after the soil becomes dry, the leaves turn brown and fall. The
heavily thorned stems are covered with green bark which takes over the
functions of leaves during periods of drought. The plant thus becomes
semi-dormant during hot dry periods and, in sections of the desert
visited by showers, may go through this cycle several times during a

Because of its sharp thorns, strangers to the desert may think that the
Ocotillo is one of the Cacti, but it is more closely related to both the
Violet and the Tamarix than to the Cacti.

Stems of the Ocotillo are used by natives in building huts. They are
sometimes cut and, when planted close together in rows, take root and
form living fences and corrals.


                   [Illustration: Allionia incarnata]

  Arizona and Texas deserts: (_Allionia incarnata_). Purple pink.
  California desert: (_Allionia albida_). Rose pink. July-October.
  Four-o’clock family. Size: Spreading annual with branches 30 inches.

Slender, trailing stems up to 30 inches in length with clusters of three
rose-purple to pink blossoms serve to identify the Trailing-four-o’clock
which is a conspicuous plant of the open plains and mesas. The plants
prefer dry, sandy benches where they are quite conspicuous with their
prostrate, somewhat sticky stems weighted with clinging grains of sand.
Blossoms are usually showy and colorful, rarely pale rose to white.

Fruits of _A. incarnata_ are conspicuously toothed.


                  [Illustration: Sphaeralcea ambigua]

  Arizona and California deserts: (_Sphaeralcea ambigua_). Peach-pink.
  Texas-New Mexico deserts: (_Sphaeralcea angustifolia_). Pink.
  Mallow family. Size: 1 to 5 feet tall, often clustered.

Common throughout all of the Southwest, the Mallows range in size from
small herbs 5 or 6 inches high to coarse, straggling, woody-stemmed
plants with stems 4 or 5 feet long. Their flowers range in color from
white and pale yellow to lavender, apricot, and red. Some species,
including _Ambigua_, grow in large clumps with as many as 100 stems from
a single root. The smaller species often cover the desert floor in early
spring with a dense growth of flowers giving an apricot tinge to the
landscape. Several species flower in spring and again after the summer

A local belief that hairs of the plant are irritating to the eyes has
given the name “Sore-eye Poppies,” an appellation carried out in the
Mexican name _Mal-de-ojos_. In Lower California, Mallows are called
_Plantas Muy Malas_, meaning very bad plants. In contrast, the Pima
Indian name is translated to mean “a cure for sore eyes.”


                 [Illustration: Calliandra eriophylla]

  Arizona, California and Texas deserts: (_Calliandra eriophylla_).
          Pink. February-May.
  Pea family. Size: From a few inches up to 3½ feet tall.

This straggling, perennial shrub with fine, Mimosa-type leaves is common
over much of the desert, lining banks of arroyos or dotting open
hillsides. It is particularly conspicuous when in flower because of the
spectacular tassel-like blossoms which are white and scarlet, or
generally pink in appearance. The small leaves are nutritious and are
highly palatable to deer and to livestock. The petite Fairyduster adds
much to the color and springtime atmosphere of the desert. It is
particularly noticeable along the base of the Tanque Verde hills in
Saguaro National Monument.


                   [Illustration: Eriogonum deflexum]

  Arizona desert: (_Eriogonum densum_). Pink. May-October.
  California desert: (_Eriogonum deflexum_). Pink-white. All year.
  Texas desert: (_Eriogonum polycladon_). Pink. June-November.
  Buckwheat family. Size: 6 inches to 30 inches high.

_Eriogonum_ is a very large genus, many species of which are common, and
contains both annuals and biennials. Although the flowers are small,
they are usually numerous and conspicuous. _E. densum_ is often very
abundant in semi-desert areas, particularly along roadsides, where it is
especially noticeable because it monopolizes the pavement edges for
miles. It is extremely resistant to drought and flourishes when many
other herbaceous plants have dried out completely. Although it bears
flowers at almost any time throughout the year, during the autumn months
the branches are loaded with myriads of pendant, pearly flowers the size
of rice kernels. In winter, the stalks turn maroon in color and are
quite conspicuous.

_E. polycladon_ is often so common along roadsides and desert washes as
to color the landscape with its greyish stems and pink flowers.

_E. inflatum_ always attracts attention because of its swollen stems
which resemble tall, slender bottles.


                   [Illustration: Tamarix pentandra]

  Arizona, California, and Texas deserts: (_Tamarix pentandra_). Pink to
          white. March-August.
  Tamarix family. Size: Shrubs to trees up to 15-20 feet high.

Purists could object to inclusion of the Saltcedar in this booklet
because it is not native. However, due to a number of importations
(eight species being introduced by the Department of Agriculture between
1899 and 1915) and to its ability to spread rapidly under suitable
conditions, Saltcedar is now widespread throughout the Southwest.

It grows as a graceful shrub or small tree with drooping branches
covered with small, scale-like leaves and is abundant in moist locations
below 5,000 feet. It prefers a hot climate, low humidity, and saline
soils. In river bottoms, it often forms dense thickets which require
immense quantities of water, hence rob the few desert streams of a high
percentage of their moisture.

Honeybees obtain nectar from the blossoms, which are particularly
noticeable in the spring and early summer, as they completely cover the
branches which appear as light pink, drooping plumes. The thickets are
valuable as wind breaks and in erosion control, and once established,
are very difficult to control and because of the deep shade cast by
their dense growth and the heavy feeding of the shallow roots, they
prevent cropping.

The name Tamarisk is often confused with the name of the Larch or
Tamarack tree. There is little similarity except in the name.

The larger _Tamarix aphylla_ is similar in appearance but much larger
and suitable for cultivation as a shade and decorative tree. It is
subject to winterkill, but does not have the bad habit of spreading,
characteristic of _T. pentandra_.


                    [Illustration: Phlox tenuifolia
                            Phlox mesoleuca]

  Common name: DESERT-PHLOX
  Arizona desert: (_Phlox tenuifolia_). White-lavender. Spring.
  California desert: (_Phlox stansburyi_). Pinkish-red. May-July.
  Texas desert: (_Phlox mesoleuca_). Pink-white. June-August.
  Phlox family. Size: Low-growing perennials, in clumps; or shrubby
          plants in tufts up to 3 feet tall.

Representatives of the Phlox genus are found from the hot desert
lowlands to the mountain tops well above the timberline. Certain species
are limited in their range to the desert areas of the Southwest, and it
is in these that we are interested here. The plants sometimes present a
mass of heavy bloom twice yearly: heaviest in the spring, and again
following the summer rains. Several of the native species have been
brought under cultivation, particularly _P. tenuifolia_, in desert
gardens, as it grows naturally in a brushy habitat similar to that
formed by the shrubs planted around a house. Other forms grow as low,
creeping mats forming fragrant, colorful floral carpets.


                   [Illustration: Chilopsis linearis]

  Arizona, California, and Texas deserts: (_Chilopsis linearis_).
          Pink-lavender. April-August.
  Bignonia family. Size: Shrubby tree, 6 to 15 feet high.

Although a close relative of the Catalpa, the willow-like foliage of
this small tree has given it the name Desertwillow. A small and
inconspicuous part of the desert vegetation when not in flower,
unnoticed among the heavier growth of trees and shrubs that crowd the
banks of desert washes, the tree’s beautiful orchid-like flowers of
white to lavender mottled with dots and splotches of brown and purple
bring exclamations of delight from persons viewing them for the first
time. Because of the beauty of the tree when in bloom, it is sometimes
cultivated as an ornamental.

Leaves are rarely browsed by livestock, and the durable, black-barked
wood is used for fenceposts. In Mexico, a tea made by steeping the dried
flowers is considered to be of medicinal value. By early autumn, the
violet-scented flowers which appear after summer rains are replaced by
the long, slender seed pods which remain dangling from the branches and
serve to identify the tree long after the flowers are gone.

Although Desertwillows are never found in pure stands, growing singly
and rather infrequently among other trees and shrubs lining desert
washes, the species is quite common below 4,000 feet across the entire
desert from western Texas to southern Nevada, southern California and
southward into Mexico.


                 [Illustration: Lemaireocereus thurberi
                          Lophocereus schotti]

  Arizona desert: (_Lemaireocereus thurberi_). Pink lavender. May-June.
  Arizona desert: (_Lophocereus schotti_). Pink. April-August.
  Cactus family. Size: In clumps, stems up to 15 feet.

Two somewhat similar, columnar cacti occur in the United States only in
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and in its immediate vicinity. Both
are fairly common in northwestern Mexico.

These two spectacular desert giants with their clumps of erect branches
are sufficiently similar to be readily confused at first glance.
However, the stems of the Organpipe (_L. thurberi_) are longer and
contain more but much smaller ridges than do the stems of the Sinita or
“Whisker cactus.” The name “Sinita” (meaning old age) refers to the
long, gray, hair-like spines covering the upper ends of the Sinita

Both species are night-blooming, the flowers, which appear along the
sides and at the tips of the stems, closing soon after sunrise the
following morning. Fruits of the Organpipe are harvested by the Papago

Although these two species of cactus are restricted to a very limited
area, they are sufficiently spectacular and interesting to be considered
worthy of inclusion in this booklet. It was to protect these species,
threatened with extinction in the United States, and other rare and
interesting forms of desert plants and animals, that Organ Pipe Cactus
National Monument was established.


                 [Illustration: Mammillaria microcarpa]

  Arizona desert: (_Mammillaria microcarpa_). Lavender. June-July.
  California desert: (_Mammillaria tetrancistra_). Lavender. June-July.
  Texas-New Mexico deserts: (_Mammillaria micromeris_). Lavender. Early
  Cactus family. Size: Cucumber-shaped and 3 to 10 inches high.

Unlike blossoms of many of the Cacti, flowers of the little
_Mammallarias_ often last for several days. Blossoms are pink or
lavender, occasionally yellow, while the fruits are finger- or
club-shaped and red. Being small and forming low clumps, or with single
pincushion-like stems, they often escape attention except when glorified
with bright, comparatively large flowers, which often form a crown
around the top of the plant. The long spines are curved at the tips
giving the plant the appearance of being covered with unbarbed

The Pincushion cacti, of which there are a number of species throughout
the Southwest, occur in dry, sandy hills from southern Utah to western
Texas and in southern California and northern Mexico. The red fruits are
bare, without scales, spines, or hairs.


                    [Illustration: Gilia longiflora
                            Gilia filifolia]

  Common names: GILIA, STARFLOWER
  Arizona desert: (_Gilia filifolia_). Lavender. April-May.
  California desert: (_Gilia latifolia_). Pink-lavender. March-April.
  Texas desert: (_Gilia longiflora_). Blue-lavender. April-October.
  Phlox family. Size: 6 to 24 inches high.

Although the Gilias are not generally well known, they are common, quite
widely distributed throughout the Southwest, and their beauty deserves
wider recognition. There are a great many species (of which early
flowering _G. inconspicua_ is perhaps the commonest) at higher
elevations as well as throughout the desert. Many of these are worthy of
cultivation as ornamentals. Desert species, in general, are pale blue,
white, or lavender while those of the higher elevations are pink, coral,
or yellow to scarlet; although this is by no means a hard-and-fast rule.

Following winters of above-normal precipitation, desert species
sometimes produce such heavy stands that the flowers cover large areas
with a delicate pale blue or lavender carpet. Some species are
attractive to Hummingbirds.


                   [Illustration: Phacelia crenulata]

  Arizona desert: (_Phacelia crenulata_). Violet-purple. February-June.
  California desert: (_Phacelia distans_). Blue-violet. March-May.
  Texas desert: (_Phacelia coerulea_). Violet-purple. March-April.
  Waterleaf family. Size: 4 to 16 inches tall.

Although strongly scented, it is not accurate to refer to these annuals
as fragrant, for they are sometimes unpleasant in odor, and occasionally
actually foul-smelling. Some are described as having an onion-like odor.

_P. crenulata_ with its rich, violet-purple flowers is conspicuous
across southern New Mexico, Arizona and California to Lower California.
This species is often called Wild-heliotrope.

The name Scorpionweed comes from the curling habit of the blossoming
flower heads which somewhat resemble the flexed tail of a scorpion in
striking position.

                    [Illustration: Lycium andersoni
                            Lycium pallidum]

  Arizona desert: (_Lycium pallidum_). Green-lavender. April-June.
  California desert: (_Lycium andersoni_). Lavender. February-April.
  Texas desert: (_Lycium berlanderi_). Lavender-cream. March-September.
  Potato family. Size: Thorny shrubs, stiff and brushy, up to 6 feet.

Noticeable in winter because of their off-season greenery and early
flowers which cover the bushes and attract many insects, and attractive
in late spring and summer due to the numerous tomato-colored berries
hanging from their stiff, thorny stems, the Squaw-thorns are widely
distributed throughout the desert.

These plants have contributed much to the subsistence of the Indians,
their insipid, slightly bitter, juicy berries being eaten raw or
prepared as a sauce. These berries are eagerly sought by birds, which
also use the stiff shrubs for cover and for protective roosts at night.

Early spring is the normal blooming season, but some flower again
following summer or early fall rains.


                [Illustration: Leucophyllum frutescens]

  Texas desert: (_Leucophyllum frutescens_). Lilac-violet.
          August-October. (Leucophyllum texanum). Violet-purple.
  Figwort family. Size: Bushy shrub, 3 to 4 feet high.

In southern Texas, thick patches of this shrub are sometimes found,
although they commonly occur singly or a few together, usually on
limestone soils. Since the leaves are a light gray-green, plants appear
to be ashy in color, giving rise to the name “Ceniza,” meaning “ashy.”
Spectacular in Big Bend National Park.

So sensitive is this plant to moisture, that it may burst into blossom
within a few hours after a soaking rain, this phenomenon giving rise to
the local belief that the plant actually blossoms before the rain,
thereby forecasting precipitation; hence the name “Barometerbush.”
During recent years, Ceniza has become one of the popular native shrubs
used in landscaping.

Under normal conditions, plants blossom in September.


                     [Illustration: Erodium texanum
                          Erodium cicutarium]

  Arizona and Texas deserts: (_Erodium texanum_). Pink-violet.
  California desert. (_Erodium cicutarium_). Rose-violet.
  Geranium family. Size: 3 to 12 inches high.

Believed to have been introduced from the Mediterranean countries at an
early date by the Spaniards, _Alfileria_ is now widespread and
extensively naturalized throughout the Southwest. In the desert, it is
one of the common winter annuals and furnishes excellent spring forage
especially following moist winters. The plants remain green for only a
few weeks, but are good forage even after the stems have dried.

Although the blossoms are not large nor sufficiently numerous to make a
colorful display, they are attractive and welcome, as they are among the
first spring flowers to put in an appearance. “Tails” of the fruits are
long and slender, somewhat resembling a Heron’s bill, and upon maturity
twist into a tight spiral when dry. Upon becoming moist, they uncoil,
driving the sharp-tipped seeds into the soil. Seeds are gathered and
stored by Ants which discard the husks and coiled “tails” outside their
nests, thus building up a circular band of chaff around the Ant-hill.


                     [Illustration: Olneya tesota]

  Arizona and California deserts: (_Olneya tesota_). Violet-purple.
  Pea family. Size: Wide-crowned tree up to 35 feet.

Ironwood is one of the desert’s most beautiful trees, being particularly
colorful when the new, dark-green leaves and violet, wisteria-like
flowers give it a lavender glow in late May or early June. Since the
tree survives only in warm locations, it has for years served as a guide
to citrus growers in selecting sites for orange, lemon, or grapefruit

Foliage of the Ironwood is dense and evergreen, and the wood is very
heavy and so hard that it cannot be worked with ordinary tools. When
thoroughly dry, it makes high-quality firewood, and as a result it has
been cut and removed over much of the desert, hence mature trees are
becoming relatively scarce. Indians used the wood for arrow points and
as tool handles.

Ironwood trees grow along desert washes, often in company with Mesquite
and Paloverde. Blossoms are much more numerous in some years than in
others. Although the trees, when in bloom, make a spectacular showing,
they are very difficult to capture on color film, and photographs that
do them justice are rare. Seeds, which mature late in the summer, are
roasted and eaten by desert Indians who prize them for their peanut-like
flavor. They are eaten also by various desert animals.

In Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and in some other parts of the
desert, Ironwood trees have become heavily infested with Mistletoe which
stunts or kills the branches and produces grotesque, tumor-like


                     [Illustration: Aster tephrodes
                             Aster abatus]

  Arizona desert: (_Aster tephrodes_). Amethyst blue. April-October.
  California desert: (_Aster abatus_). Violet to lavender. March-May.
  Texas desert: (_Aster tanacetifolius_). Bright violet. June-October.
  Sunflower family. Size: Few inches to 2½ feet tall.

Since the Aster is one of the most widespread and best-known of the
flowers, it is usually easily recognized. There are many species,
principally perennials, ranging from low-growing, single-stemmed plants,
sprawling, many-stemmed plants with large flowers, to tall bushes.
Desert species are found on dry, rocky hillsides and along roadsides and
on waste ground.

            [Illustration: Aster tanacetifolius leaf shapes]

The Aster is by no means restricted to the desert. Over much of the
United States they are considered as fall bloomers, but many species
blossom in the spring while others are at their floral best in


              [Illustration: Pentstemon pseudospectabilis
                          Pentstemon fendleri]

  Arizona desert: (_Pentstemon pseudospectabilis_). Rose-purple.
  California desert. (Pentstemon thurberi). Blue-purple. April-June.
  Texas desert: (_Pentstemon fendleri_). Blue-purple. April-June.
  Figwort family. Size: Perennial herbs from a few inches high to 3 feet
          or more tall.

Widespread through the Southwest at nearly all elevations, the
Penstemons are conspicuous herbs or small shrubs with showy flowers that
attract attention and admiration when they are in bloom in the spring
and early summer on the desert.


                  [Illustration: Lupinus sparsiflorus
                            Lupinus havardi]

  Common names: LUPINE, BLUEBONNET
  Arizona desert: (_Lupinus sparsiflorus_). Violet-purple. January-May.
  California desert: (_Lupinus odoratus_). Royal purple. April-May.
  Texas desert: (_Lupinus havardi_). Blue-purple. March-April.
  Pea family. Size: Bushy, and up to 2 or 2½ feet tall.

Lupines are among the old dependables of spring display flowers of the
desert, usually mingling with other blossoming herbs to create the
bright color pattern for which the desert is famous in early spring, but
occasionally growing in pure stands. Ranging in color from pale pink to
deep purple, the Lupines are usually considered as blue flowers.

The name “Lupine” comes from the Latin word meaning wolf and was applied
to these plants because they were believed to rob the soil of its
fertility. Actually, they prefer the poorer, sandy soils and, by fixing
in the soil nitrogen that they, in common with other plants of the pea
family, are able to obtain from the air, they actually improve the land
on which they grow.

Perhaps the best known display of Lupines takes place each spring in
Texas. Here the “Bluebonnet” (_L. texensis_ and _L. subcarnosus_) has
been named the state flower of Texas, and the annual spring display
attracts thousands of people to the areas of heavy bloom. The majority
of Lupines have handsome flowers, some species are fragrant, and several
species are cultivated as ornamentals. The seeds of a few species
contain alkaloids which are poisonous to livestock, especially sheep.


                 [Illustration: Orobanche ludoviciana]

  Arizona, California, and Texas deserts: (_Orobanche ludoviciana_).
          Brownish-purple. March-July.
  Broomrape family. Size: 4 to 15 inches tall.

This root parasite, although not common, is sufficiently strange and
striking in appearance to arrest attention. Its purple to
yellowish-brown, leafless flower stalks somewhat resembling coarse
shoots of asparagus rise above the desert soil, usually in open, sandy

Broomrape, of which there are several species, is found throughout the
Southwest from southern Utah and Nevada to Texas, California, and

The plant is parasitic on the roots of a number of different plants, but
the desert species usually parasitize Burrobush, Bur-sage, and other
composites. Flowers are small, purple with brown and white markings, and
monopolize the plant stalk in the absence of foliage.

Underground parts of the plant were eaten by Southwestern Indians. The
name “Cancer-root” refers to the reported efficacy of treatment in
applying the stems of the plant to ulcers.


                 [Illustration: Astragalus mollissimus]

  Arizona and California deserts: (_Astragalus nuttalianus_).
          White-purple. February-May.
  Texas deserts: (_Astragalus mollissimus_). Purple. April-May.
  Pea family. Size: 4 to 12 inches high.

A very large genus of plants, with 78 species recorded in Arizona alone,
_Astragalus_ ranges from the driest, hottest parts of the desert to high
mountain peaks and the far north. _A. nuttalianus_ is the commonest of
the desert species and is found on dry plains, mesas, and slopes below
4,000 feet from Arkansas and Texas westward to California and south into

Some of the species, of which _Mollisimus_ (Wooly-loco) is one, contain
a poisonous constituent causing the well-known and often fatal loco
disease of livestock, particularly horses. (Loco is a Spanish word
meaning “crazy.”) Other species which prefer soils rich in selenium take
up enough of that toxic mineral to make them poisonous to livestock,
especially sheep.

Nearly all of the species are colorful and spectacular when in blossom,
and some of them have a rank, disagreeable odor.


                 [Illustration: Solanum elaeagnifolium
                             S. rostratum]

  Arizona and California deserts: (_Solanum xanti_). Purple.
  Texas desert: (_Solanum elaeagnifolium_). Purple-violet.
  Potato family. Size: Up to 3 feet.

Quite showy when in flower, these common roadside plants attract
considerable attention during the late spring and summer. Some species
become troublesome in cultivated fields and are difficult to eradicate.
An alkaloid, solanin, reported as present in the leaves and unripe
fruits of several species, renders them poisonous. Pima Indians add the
crushed berries of _S. elaeagnofolium_ to milk in making cheese.

The yellow-flowered _S. rostratum_ is heavily covered with spines,
including both stems and fruit, giving it the name of Buffalobur. This
species is said to be the original host of the now widespread pest, the
Colorado Potato Beetle.


               [Illustration: Heliotropium curassavicum]

  Arizona, California and Texas deserts: (_Heliotropium curassavicum_).
          Purple. March-April.
  Borage family. Size: Spreading, weak stems up to 18 inches.

Widely distributed on salty and alkaline soils throughout the warmer
parts of the Western Hemisphere, there are several species and varieties
of Wild-heliotrope. The flowers, which are almost white, shading to a
pale purple in the corolla throat, open as the spike uncoils, perfuming
the desert air with their fragrance. The name “Pusley” which is applied
to this plant in some localities is possibly a corruption of “Purslane.”

Pima Indians are reported to powder the dried roots of these plants,
applying the dust to wounds or sores. The name “Wild-heliotrope” is also
applied to another desert flower, _Phacelia crenulata_ (which see),
causing no little confusion.


                    [Illustration: Pluchea sericea]

  Arizona, California, and Texas deserts: (_Pluchea sericea_). Roseate
          purple. Spring.
  Sunflower family. Size: Perennial, 3 to 10 feet tall.

Seldom found above 3,000 feet elevation, the rank-smelling Arrowweed
forms dense, willow-like thickets in stream beds and in moist, saline
soils. It is common in moist locations from Texas to southern Utah and
south into California and Mexico; usually in pure, dense stands.

The green foliage gives off an agreeable odor, but when the plant dries
this becomes rank and unpleasant, clinging to the plant long after it
has been cut. This odor is often a characteristic of native dwellings
where Arrowweed has been used as a ceiling mat above the rafters.

Arrowweed is browsed by deer, and sometimes by horses and cattle. The
straight stems were used by Indians in making arrowshafts, and are still
important as a construction material in the walls and roofs of mud huts.
The stems are used, also, by desert Indians in basketmaking, and in
fabricating storage bins and animal cages. From the foliage of the stem
tips, Pima Indians brewed a tea which they used as an eye wash.

The flowers are reported to furnish considerable nectar gathered by
Honeybees. The blossoms are inconspicuous and develop into tawny-tufted


                    [Illustration: Mimulus bigelovi]

  Common name: MONKEYFLOWER
  Arizona and California deserts: (_Mimulus bigelovi_). Red-purple.
  Texas desert: (_Mimulus glabratus_). Yellow. June.
  Figwort family. Size: Branching, creeping annual up to 8 inches.

Disproportionately large flowers for the size of the low-growing,
small-leafed plant make it particularly conspicuous in the open, sandy
locations where it blossoms in the springtime.

Although the Monkeyflower is usually thought of as moisture-loving,
there are a number of desert species. The flowers are quite easy to
recognize, as they closely resemble the Monkeyflowers which grow in the
moist places surrounding seeps and springs, and they also are somewhat
similar in appearance to their close relatives the Snapdragons and

The desert species are well worthy of consideration for cultivation as
garden ornamentals.


                     [Illustration: Nama demissum]

  Arizona, California and Texas deserts: (_Nama demissum_). Red-purple.
  Waterleaf family. Size: Tiny plant, an inch or so high.

Although the plants are very small, they grow close together and the
blossoms are often quite large in comparison. The reddish-purple color
of the flowers stands out in sharp contrast to the green of spring
vegetation so that a widespread growth of the plants forms patches or
mats of colorful desert carpeting.

Masses of the plants are usually found on open flats, often among
Creosotebush, and on either clay or sandy soils. In dry years, growth is
restricted and a tiny plant may bear but a single flower, the blossom
sometimes almost as large as the rest of the plant.


                  [Illustration: Boerhaavia caribaea]

  Arizona, California and Texas deserts: (_Boerhaavia caribaea_).
          Red-purple. May-September.
  Four-o’clock family. Size: Trailing stems up to 4 feet in length.

A common roadside perennial, Spiderling becomes an annoying garden weed
when it invades open fields and areas of cultivation. Its trailing stems
and sticky foliage interfere with tillage. The flowers are small but
numerous and grow in attractive, colorful clusters. This species is
widely distributed, not only throughout the deserts of the Southwest,
but also in tropical and subtropical America.

In addition to _B. caribaea_, other species of _Boerhaavia_ are
widespread throughout areas of the Southwest below 5,500 feet
elevations. The plants usually grow where they are exposed to full
sunlight, although sometimes found in open brushlands, and reach full
flower in late summer and autumn months.


                [Illustration: Orthocarpus purpurascens]

  Common names: OWLCLOVER, (_ESCOBITA_)
  Arizona and California deserts: (_Orthocarpus purpurascens_).
          Red-purple. March-May.
  Figwort family. Size: 4 to 8 inches high.

This short, leafy annual ranging in color from rich velvet red to purple
is noticeable even as an individual plant, but, following winters of
above average rainfall, it often grows en masse, covering portions of
the desert floor with a carpet of bright purple; sometimes in pure
stands, often mixed with Goldpoppy, Lupine, and other spring flowers.

Since _Escobita_ is limited in range to southern and western Arizona,
California, and Lower California at elevations below 3,000 feet, Organ
Pipe Cactus National Monument is well within its range, and in that area
can be seen at its spectacular best.

The California variety has the lower lip of the blossom tipped with rich


                    [Illustration: Opuntia spinosior
                            Opuntia fulgida
                         Opuntia acanthocarpa]

  Arizona desert: (_Opuntia spinosior_). Red-purple. May-June.
  California desert: (_Opuntia acanthocarpa_). Yellow-purple. April-May.
  Texas desert: (_Opuntia imbricata_). Red-purple. May-June.
  Cactus family. Size: Shrubby, from 3 to 8 feet high.

Aside from the true Tree Cholla (_Opuntia fulgida_), which is the
largest of the branching, cylindrical-jointed cacti and is very common
in restricted portions of the desert in the Tucson-Phoenix area, the
species listed above are the largest, most representative, and most
widely spread of the Chollas (CHOH-yahs).

The bright red to purple flowers of _O. spinosior_ and _O. imbricata_
make them particularly attractive during the blossoming season, while
the extreme variability, from yellow to red and purple, of the flowers
of _O. acanthocarpa_ make its identification by this means always a
matter of uncertainty. Fruits of _spinosior_ and _imbricata_ are quite
large, yellow, and at a distance may be mistaken for blossoms.

Flowers of _O. fulgida_ are small, pink, and appear in midsummer
followed by fruits which remain on the plant to form long hanging
clusters relished by cattle. A hybrid between _spinosior_ and _fulgida_
is reported along the Gila River west of Florence, Arizona.


                  [Illustration: Cirsium neomexicanum
                           Cirsium undulatum]

  Arizona desert: (_Cirsium neomexicanum_). Pink-purple.
  California desert: (_Cirsium mohavense_). Pink-white. Summer.
  Texas desert: (_Cirsium undulatum_). Red-purple. October.
  Sunflower family. Size: 2 to 4 feet tall, sometimes taller.

Sometimes called Bullthistles, these biennials or perennials with spiny
stems, prickly leaves, and heavy flower heads ranging in color from
white to purple need no introduction to most people.

The Mohave Thistle is the commonest form found in southern California,
being abundant, sometimes in dense stands, in open gravelly valleys, on
rocky slopes, or about alkaline seeps in the Mohave Desert. Range of the
New Mexico Thistle extends westward to the eastern borders of the Mohave
Desert. _Cirsium californica_, with white blossoms, occurs in Death
Valley National Monument at elevations between 4,000 and 5,000 feet.

Navajo and Hopi Indians are reported to use the Thistle plant for
medicinal purposes.


                    [Illustration: Abronia villosa]

  Common name: SANDVERBENA
  Arizona and California deserts: (_Abronia villosa_). Pink-purple.
  Texas desert: (_Abronia angustifolia_). Pink-purple. March-July.
  Four-o’clock family. Size: Trailing annual, stems sometimes 2 feet in

Sandverbenas are attractive, low-growing herbs with pink-purple to
lavender, fragrant flowers forming clusters or heads which cover the
plants. Desert species are conspicuous in the springtime when they line
roadsides and carpet open, sandy locations, such as dry streambeds, with
a mass of purple. Although they are often found in solid patches, they
frequently intermingle with other spring flowers such as the Bladderpod
producing a gay pattern of color.

Other species are found at higher elevations and are common during the
summer months.

Some of the desert species blossom a second time in September.

                    [Illustration: plant silhouette]


                  [Illustration: Echinocereus fendleri
                       Echinocereus rigidissimus]

  Arizona and California deserts: (_Echinocereus engelmanni_).
          Lavender-purple. March-April.
  Texas desert: (_Echinocereus fendleri_). Pink-purple. May-June.
  Cactus family. Size: 6 to 18 inches high.

Growing in open clumps with stems resembling spine-covered cucumbers
standing on end, the Hedgehog is the first cactus to blossom in the
spring. Flowers vary considerably in color ranging from lavender through
purple to a rich red.

Fruits (called “pitayas” in Texas) are dark mahogany red, juicy, rich in
sugar, and may be eaten like strawberries, hence the name Strawberry
Cactus. They form an important item in the diet of birds and rodents.
Pima Indians consider them a delicacy.

A close relative, the Rainbow Cactus (_Echinocereus rigidissimus_) is
restricted in its distribution to elevations between 4,000 and 6,000
feet. It is called “Rainbow” Cactus because of alternating bands of red
and white spines encircling the stem and marking growth of different
seasons and years. The blossoms of the Rainbow Cactus are pinkish
(yellow in western Texas) and are large and showy in comparison with the
small size of the single-stemmed plant.


                [Illustration: Dichelostemma pulchellum]

  Arizona and California deserts: (_Dichelostemma pulchellum_). Light
          blue. February-May.
  Lily family. Size: About 1 foot high.

Very common and abundant in early spring, the pale blue to violet
flowers of this small, delicate perennial Lily are conspicuous on open
slopes and mesas. Found below 5,000 feet from southwestern New Mexico to
California and northward to Oregon, they are widely scattered over the
desert areas of the Southwest. Pima and Papago Indians ate the small
bulbs, as also did the early white settlers who named them Grassnuts.


                  [Illustration: Evolvulus arizonicus]

  Arizona desert: (_Evolvulus arizonicus_). Sky blue. April-October.
  Texas desert: (_Evolvulus alsinoides_). Azure blue. April-September.
  Convolvulus family. Size: Spreading perennial herbs up to 2 feet.

Although _E. arizonicus_ is considered one of the desert’s most
beautiful wildflowers, members of the genus are by no means limited to
the desert. They are found in sunny locations on desert grasslands, open
plains and dry mesas below 5,000 feet from the Dakotas and Montana to

The flowers, although rarely more than ½ inch in diameter, are bright
azure or sky blue, and seem large in comparison with the small leaves
and weak, spreading stems of the plant that bears them.

Although the genus _Ipomoea_ is the true Morningglory, blossoms of
_Evolvus_ are similar in appearance, although flattened, hence are
sometimes called Wild-morningglory.


                     [Illustration: Salvia carnosa
                          Salvia columbariae]

  Common names: CHIA, SAGE, DESERT-SAGE
  Arizona desert: (_Salvia carnosa_). Sky-blue. Spring.
  California desert: (_Salvia columbariae_). Blue. March-April.
  Texas desert: (_Salvia arizonica_). Indigo blue. July-September.
  Mint family. Size: Herbs and shrubs up to 3 feet high.

The word “Sage” is derived from the idea that these plants had the power
to make a person wise or sage. Please do not confuse the Desert-sage
with Sagebrush (_Artemisia_) which does not grow in low-elevation
deserts but which, due to popular writings and “western” movies, is
associated in the public mind with any brushy plant found in the west.

Seeds of the Chia at one time formed a staple article of diet among
southwestern Indians, and are still used by natives in Mexico for food
and for making mucilaginous poultices.

The flowers of several species of Chia are very ornamental and the
plants are quite common, usually in sandy soil.


                   [Illustration: Delphinium amabile
                              D. scaposum]

  Arizona desert: (_Delphinium scaposum_). Royal blue. March-May.
  California desert: (_Delphinium parishi_) Sky blue. Spring.
  Texas desert: (_Delphinium carolinianum_). Blue. Spring.
  Crowfoot family. Size: Up to 2 feet in height.

Desert Larkspurs are low-growing, spring or early summer-flowering in
habit, often occurring in colonies, and frequently intermingle with
other spring flowers thereby adding their blue to the colorful tapestry
of ground cover. They are readily recognized because of their
resemblance to the cultivated varieties called Delphiniums, and because
of the tubular extension or “spur.” _D. amabile_ is the most
drought-resistant of all southwestern species and may blossom in the
desert as early as February.

Because they contain delphinine and other toxic alkaloids, Larkspurs are
poisonous to livestock, particularly sheep. On the desert, the plants
are small and bear few but beautiful blossoms. They prefer open,
gravelly soil.

It is reported that the Hopi Indians grind Larkspur blossoms with corn
to produce blue meal.


                      [Illustration: Dalea mollis
                             Dalea spinosa
                             Dalea formosa]

  Arizona and California deserts: (_Dalea spinosa_). Blue-violet.
  Texas deserts: (_Dalea formosa_). Purple. March-June.
  Pea family. Size: Up to 10 or 12 feet tall.

Famous, although not common, throughout the frostless areas of the
desert, the Smoketree, because of its gray-green, leafless, plume-like
growth resembles at a distance a gray cloud of smoke hovering over a
desert campfire. When in flower, in May or June, it is one of the
handsomest of desert shrubs. It is always found in the bed of a sandy
wash where it obtains moisture from runoff following summer showers or
winter rains.

In California, it occurs in portions of both the Mohave and the Colorado
Deserts, and in Arizona is restricted to the western part of the state.
It is fairly abundant near Quitobaquito in the southwestern corner of
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.

Other species of Indigobush, of which there are many, are less famous
than the Smoketree, but all have purple or indigo flowers and most of
them are beautiful and noticeable when in blossom. Indians used an
extract from the twigs for dyeing basket material and ate the roots of
_D. terminalis_.


                  [Illustration: Rumex hymenosepalus]

  Arizona and California deserts: (_Rumex hymenosepalus_). Pink-green.
  Texas desert: (_Rumex mexicanus_). Pink-green. Summer.
  Buckwheat family. Size: Coarse perennial up to 2 feet tall.

Sturdy, conspicuous flower and seed heads together with the large leaves
of these coarse, roadside plants, although hardly to be considered as
beautiful, attract considerable attention and arouse the curiosity of
the observer. Some species are garden weeds introduced from Europe. In
the desert, the large, coarse leaves and pinkish flower stalks make
quite a showing in sandy washes and along the roadsides as early as
March and April. The plant is being considered as a source of tannin
(from its tubers) to replace that formerly obtained from Chestnuts.


                  [Illustration: Simmondsia chinensis]

  Arizona and California deserts: (_Simmondsia chinensis_).
          Green-yellow. December-July.
  Box family. Size: Shrub, 2 to 5 feet high.

_Jojoba_ (hoh-HOH-bah) is another of the desert plants which is
noticeable, not because of its flowers, but due to its leathery,
gray-green foliage which persists throughout the year. These shrubs are
numerous at elevations between 1,000 and 4,300 feet in the lower levels
of desert mountain ranges, particularly on the alluvial fans at the
mouths of canyons.

The acorn-like nuts, which taste something like filberts, but are bitter
because of their tannin content, were long an important item of food
among the Indians and the early settlers. The thickly set, evergreen
leaves are browsed by Deer and other animals, and the nuts are gathered
by Ground Squirrels.

The nuts contain an edible oil (actually a liquid wax) which has some
medicinal value and is used in small quantities in the manufacture of
hair oil. Attempts to raise the nut in commercial quantities have not
proved successful. On occasions the nuts have been roasted and used as a
substitute for coffee.


                   [Illustration: Asclepias subulata
                            Asclepias erosa]

  Arizona desert: (_Asclepias subulata_). Green-yellow. April-October.
  California desert: (_Asclepias erosa_). Green-white.
  Texas desert: (_Asclepias texana_). Green-white. Autumn.
  Milkweed family. Size: Perennials, up to 5 feet.

Readily recognizable because of their milky sap and the pods filled with
silky-winged seeds, the Milkweeds are generally considered as poisonous
to livestock, although rarely eaten. Appreciable quantities of rubber
are found in the sap of some species.


                   [Illustration: Koeberlinia spinosa
                           Holacantha emoryi]

  Arizona desert: (_Koeberlinia spinosa_). Greenish. May-June.
  California desert: (_Holacantha emoryi_). Yellow-green. June-July.
  Texas desert: (_Koeberlinia spinosa_). Greenish. May-June.
  Koeberlinia is Junco family.
  Holacantha is Simaruba family. Size: From 2 to 10 feet high.

Two intricately branched, thorny shrubs with green bark and leaves
reduced to small scales and otherwise resembling each other are both
popularly known by the names of Crown-of-thorns and Crucifixion-thorn,
although they are not closely related botanically.

Flowers of both are small and inconspicuous, although when the bushes
are in full bloom, they are quite noticeable. Even so, it is the unusual
and eye-arresting appearance of these shrubs which appear as leafless
masses of robust thorns, making them a conspicuous feature of the desert
and arousing the interest and curiosity of observers.

In some locations these shrubs are sufficiently abundant to form
thickets which repel livestock. Fruits of _H. emoryi_ remain on the
plant for years, and it is usually possible to identify each season’s
fruit clusters by the degree of weathering. These masses of brown to
black fruits are very noticeable and are often mistaken for parasitic
growths or the results of a disease. A somewhat similar shrub, sometimes
attaining tree size and superficially resembling the Paloverde (see p.
36), is the Mohave-thorn (_Canotia holocantha_). It is found at
elevations between 2,500 and 4,500 feet, over much of southern and
western Arizona and northern Sonora, and blossoms from May to August.

                    [Illustration: Franseria dumosa]

  Arizona desert: (_Franseria deltoidea_). Greenish. December-April.
  California desert: (_Franseria dumosa_). Greenish. April-November.
  Sunflower family. Size: Up to 3 feet high.

Noticeable because of its ashy foliage, Bur-sage is a low, rounded,
white-barked shrub, the several species of which are very common on the
dry plains and mesas up to 3,000 feet. The flowers are small, without
petals, and colorless inasmuch as they are wind-pollenated and do not
need to attract insects.

It is classed by A. A. Nichol as one of the major plants of the
Paloverde-Bur-sage-Cacti plant association, one of the three plant
communities of the Sonoran Desert.

Bur-sage is one of the favorite foods of burros and sheep, and is said
to be preferred also by horses.


                    [Illustration: Suaeda torreyana]

  Arizona and Texas deserts: (_Suaeda suffrutescens_). Greenish.
  California desert: (_Suaeda torreyana_). Greenish. July-September.
  Goosefoot family. Size: Up to 6 feet tall, and branching.

Seepweed, which is usually an indicator of alkaline soil, is browsed to
some extent by cattle when other feed is scarce. The young plants are
used for greens by the Pimas and other desert Indians, sometimes eaten
with cactus fruits. _Pinole_ was made by roasting the seeds. Coahuila
Indians extracted from the plants a black dye which they used in art

Flowers of the Seepweed are small, greenish, and without petals. Since
the pollen is carried by the wind, color to attract insects to the
flowers is not necessary. Because of its tolerance for somewhat salty or
alkaline soils, Seepweed thrives along the margins of dry lakes and on
salt flats where moisture is near the surface. On the desert of southern
California it is often associated with Mesquite and Quailbrush, the
sooty-green to brown plants standing out in sharp contrast.

Because it is so common in moist locations throughout the Southwest, and
sufficiently unusual in appearance to arouse curiosity as to its
identity, Seepweed is included in this publication regardless of the
fact that its flowers are small and inconspicuous.



Benson, Lyman; and Darrow, Robert: _A Manual of Southwestern Trees and
    Shrubs_; University of Arizona, 1944.

Benson, Lyman: _The Cacti of Arizona_; University of Arizona, Second
    Edition, 1950.

Black, Homer: _Common and Larger Plants Near the Cavern Entrance_;
    Carlsbad Caverns National Park; mss. 1944.

Cooper, Norman C.: _Check List of Plants of Organ Pipe Cactus National
    Monument_; mss. 1942.

Jaeger, Edmund C.: _Desert Wildflowers_; Stanford University Press,
    Revised Edition, 1944.

Joint Committee on Horticultural Nomenclature: _Standardized Plant
    Names_; Second Edition, 1942.

Kearney, Thomas H.; and Peebles, Robert H.: _Flowering Plants and Ferns
    of Arizona_; Government Printing Office, 1942.

McDougall, W. B.: Vegetation of White Sands National Monument; mss.

McDougall, W. B.: Check List of the Plants of Death Valley National
    Monument; mimeo. 1945.

McDougall, W. B.; and Sperry, Omer E.: Plants of Big Bend National Park;
    Government Printing Office, 1951.

Nichol, A. A.: _The Natural Vegetation of Arizona_; University of
    Arizona Technical Bulletin No. 68, 1937.

Shantz, H. L.; and Piemeisel, R. L.: _Indicator Significance of the
    Natural Vegetation of the Southwestern Desert Region_; Government
    Printing Office, 1925.

Sperry, Omer E.; and Warnock, Barton H.: _Plants of Brewster County,
    Texas_; Sul Ross State Teachers College Bulletin, Vol. 21, No. 1,
    Alpine, Texas, 1941.

Taylor, Walter P.; McDougall, Walter B.; and Davis, William B.:
    _Preliminary Report of an Ecological Survey of Big Bend National
    Park_; March-June, 1944; mimeo.


  Abronia                                                             96
  Acacia                                                          28, 33
  Acknowledgement                                                      8
  Agave                                                   19, 21, 22, 61
  Ajamente                                                           105
  Ajo                                                                 13
  Alfilaria                                                           80
  Algerita                                                            43
  Allionia                                                            67
  Allthorn                                                           106
  Amole                                                               19
  Amsinckia                                                           46
  Amaryllis family                                                    61
  Aplopappus                                                          55
  Apricot-mallow                                                      68
  Arizona Desert                                                       5
  Arizona-poppy                                                   38, 39
  Argemone                                                            12
  Arundo                                                              24
  Arrowweed                                                       17, 88
  Artemisia                                                            4
  Asclepias                                                          105
  Ashplant                                                            79
  Aster                                                           17, 82
  Astragalus                                                          86

  Baccharis                                                           25
  Baeria                                                              50
  Balleya                                                             54
  Barberry                                                            43
  Barberry family                                                     43
  Barrel cactus                                                       60
  Barometerbush                                                       79
  Basketgrass                                                         20
  Bead-pod                                                            44
  Beardtongue                                                         83
  Beargrass                                                       20, 22
  Beavertail cactus                                               59, 60
  Bedstraw milkweed                                                  105
  Bellflower family                                                   16
  Berberis                                                            43
  Bignonia family                                                     73
  Bird-of-paradise flower                                             58
  Bisnaga                                                             60
  Bisnagre                                                            60
  Bladderpod                                                      44, 96
  Bluebonnet                                                          84
  Bluedicks                                                           98
  BLUE flowers                                                    98-102
  Blue paloverde                                                      36
  Boerhaavia                                                          92
  Borage family                                                       46
  Box family                                                         104
  Brickellbush                                                        31
  Brickellia                                                          31
  Brigham-tea                                                         34
  Brittlebush                                                         53
  Broadleaf yucca                                                     19
  Broom baccharis                                                     25
  Broomrape                                                           85
  Broomrape family                                                    85
  Buckhorn cholla                                                     94
  Buckwheat family                                               70, 103
  Buffalo-bur                                                         87
  Buffalo gourd                                                       44
  Bullhead                                                            38
  Bullnettle                                                          87
  Bullthistle                                                         95
  Burnut                                                              38
  Burrobrush                                                      17, 40
  Burrobush                                                       40, 65
  Burroweed                                                          107
  Burroweed strangler                                                 85
  Bur-sage                                                   40, 85, 107
  Button cactus                                                       75

  Cactus family                        9, 10, 26, 59, 60, 74, 75, 94, 97
  Caesalpinia                                                         58
  Calabazilla                                                         44
  Caliandra,                                                          69
  Calico cactus                                                       97
  California Desert                                                    6
  California-poppy                                                    63
  Calochortus                                                         62
  Calycoseris                                                         30
  Caltrop                                                             39
  Caltrop family                                              38, 39, 40
  Camphor-weed                                                        35
  Canaigre                                                           103
  Cancer-root                                                         85
  Canatilla                                                           34
  Candelilla                                                          34
  Candlewood                                                          66
  Canotia                                                            107
  Caper family                                                    37, 41
  Cane cactus                                                         94
  Carnegiea                                                            9
  Carrizo                                                             24
  Cassia                                                              57
  Catclaw                                                         28, 33
  Cat’s-claw                                                          33
  Ceniza                                                              79
  Century plant                                               22, 61, 62
  Cercidium                                                           36
  Carnegiea                                                         6, 9
  Cheesewood                                                          65
  Chia                                                               100
  Chicolote                                                           12
  Chihuahuan Desert                                                    5
  Chili Coyote                                                        44
  Chilopsis                                                           73
  Chinese pusley                                                      88
  Cholla                                                          26, 94
  Christmas cholla                                                    26
  Cirsium                                                             95
  Clammyweed                                                          37
  Clematis                                                            23
  Cleome                                                              37
  Coachwhip                                                           66
  Coffeeberry                                                        104
  Colorado-Mohave Desert                                               6
  Common reed                                                         24
  Compass cactus                                                      60
  Convolvulus family                                              17, 99
  COPPERY flower                                                      64
  Copra-de-oro                                                        63
  Corkseed cactus                                                     75
  Corona-de-Cristo                                                   106
  Cottonwood                                                          28
  Covena                                                              98
  Coyote-melon                                                        44
  CREAM-colored flowers                                            19-25
  Creosotebush                                        17, 38, 39, 40, 91
  Crowfoot family                                                23, 101
  Crownbeard                                                          54
  Crown-of-thorns                                                    106
  Crucifixion-thorn                                                  106
  Curcurbita                                                          44
  Cuscuta                                                             17

  Dalea                                                              102
  Darningneedle cactus                                                26
  Dasylirion                                                  19, 21, 22
  Datil                                                               19
  Datura                                                              11
  Deernut                                                            104
  Delphinium                                                         101
  Desert, Arizona                                                      5
  Desert, California                                                   6
  Desert, Chihuahuan                                                   5
  Desert, Colorado-Mohave                                              6
  Desert, Great Basin                                                  6
  Desert, Sonoran                                                      5
  Desert, Texas                                                        5
  Desert, Mohave-Colorado                                              6
  Desert aster                                                        82
  Desert brickellia                                                   31
  Desert-broom                                                        25
  Desert-buckwheat                                                    70
  Desert-catalpa                                                      73
  Desert-dandelion                                                    14
  Desert Gold                                                         52
  Desert-hyacinth                                                     98
  Desert-ironwood                                                     81
  Desertlily                                                          13
  Desertmallow                                                        68
  Desert-marigold                                                     54
  Desert-mariposa                                                     62
  Desert-milkweed                                                    105
  Desert-mistletoe                                                    28
  Desert-phlox                                                        72
  Desert Plants                                                        7
  Desertpoppy                                                         63
  Deserts, Location of                                              2, 5
  Deserts, What Are They?                                              5
  Desert-sage                                                        100
  Desert-senna                                                        57
  Desert Spoon                                                        21
  Desert-sunflower                                                    52
  Desert-sunshine                                                     52
  Desert-thorn                                                        78
  Desert-tobacco                                                      29
  Desertwillow                                                        73
  Devilsclaw                                                      33, 63
  Devilshead Cactus                                                   60
  Diamond Cactus                                                      26
  Dichelostemma                                                       98
  Dock                                                               103
  Dodder                                                              17
  Dogbane family                                                      15

  Echinocactus                                                        60
  Echinocereus                                                        97
  Elephanttusks                                                       63
  Encelia                                                             53
  Enceliopsis                                                         51
  Ephedra                                                             34
  Eriogonum                                                           70
  Erodium                                                             80
  Eschscholtzia                                                       63
  Escobita                                                            93
  Evening-primrose                                                    42
  Evening-primrose family                                             42
  Evolvulus                                                           99

  Fairyduster                                                         69
  False-mesquite                                                      69
  Ferocactus                                                          60
  Fiddleneck                                                          46
  Figwort family                                          79, 83, 90, 93
  Fileree                                                             80
  Fishhook Cactus                                                     75
  Flamingsword                                                        66
  Flourensia                                                          47
  Fouquieria                                                          66
  Four-o’clock                                                        67
  Four o’clock family                                         67, 92, 96
  Franseria                                                          107
  Fremont screwbean                                                   48

  Geraea                                                              52
  Geranium family                                                     80
  Giant cactus                                                         9
  Giant-dagger                                                        19
  Giant-jimson                                                        11
  Giant Joshua                                                        18
  Giantreed                                                           24
  Gilia                                                               76
  Globemallow                                                         68
  Goatnut                                                            104
  Goatsbeard                                                          14
  Goldenbush                                                          55
  Goldenweed                                                          55
  Goldfields                                                          50
  Goldpoppy                                                   39, 63, 93
  Goosefoot family                                                   108
  Grass family                                                        24
  Grassnuts                                                           98
  Gourd                                                               44
  Gourd family                                                        44
  Great Basin Desert                                                   6
  Greasewood                                                          40
  GREEN flowers                                                  103-108
  Groundcherry                                                        87

  Hairy-leaved Calliandra                                             69
  Hairy-headed sunflower                                              52
  Haplopappus                                                         55
  Hedgehog cactus                                                     97
  Hediondilla                                                         40
  Heliotropium                                                        88
  Heronbill                                                           80
  Hesperocallis                                                       13
  Heterotheca                                                         35
  Hierba-del-pasmo                                                    25
  Holacantha                                                         106
  Hollygrape                                                          43
  Holycross                                                           26
  Honey-mesquite                                                  48, 49
  Horsenettle                                                         87
  How to use this booklet                                              3
  Hymenoclea                                                          65

  Incienso                                                            53
  Indianwheat                                                         25
  Indigobush                                                         102
  Inkweed                                                            108
  Iodinebush                                                         108
  Ipomoea                                                             99
  Ironwood                                                        28, 81

  ackass-clover                                                   37, 41
  Jimmyweed                                                           55
  Jimson                                                              11
  Jimsonweed                                                          11
  Jointfir family                                                     34
  Jojoba                                                             104
  Joshua-tree                                               5, 6, 18, 61
  Jumping cactus                                                      26
  Junco family                                                       106

  Kallstroemia                                                        39
  Koeberlinia                                                        106

  Larkspur                                                           101
  Larrea                                                              40
  LAVENDER flowers                                                 72-76
  Leatherflower                                                       23
  Lechuguilla                                                   5, 6, 61
  Lemaireocereus                                                      74
  Lesquerella                                                         44
  Leucophyllum                                                        79
  Lily Family                                 13, 18, 19, 21, 22, 61, 98
  Little-stinker                                                      40
  Locoweed                                                            86
  Lophocereus                                                         74
  Lupine                                                      63, 84, 93
  Lupinus                                                             84
  Lycium                                                              78

  Mahonia                                                             43
  Mal-de-ojos                                                         43
  Mallow family                                                       68
  Mammillaria                                                         75
  Marigold                                                            54
  Mariposa                                                            62
  Marsh-fleabane                                                      88
  Martynia                                                            63
  Martynia family                                                     63
  Mescal                                                          61, 62
  Mesquite                                                    28, 49, 81
  Mesquitilla                                                         69
  Mexican-poppy                                                       63
  Mexican-tobacco                                                     29
  Milkvetch                                                           86
  Milkweed                                                           105
  Milkweed family                                                    105
  Mimulus                                                             90
  Mint family                                                        100
  Mistletoe                                                       28, 81
  Mistletoe family                                                    28
  Mohave-aster                                                        82
  Mohave Desert                                                        6
  Mohave-Thorn                                                       107
  Monkeyflower                                                        90
  Mormon-tea                                                          34
  Mustard family                                                      44

  Nama                                                                91
  Narrowleaf Yucca                                                    22
  National Monuments                                                   6
  National Parks                                                       6
  Nemacladus                                                          16
  Nerium                                                              15
  Nicotiana                                                           29
  Nightblooming Cereus                                                10
  Nipple cactus                                                       75
  Nolina                                                          20, 21

  Ocotillo                                                            66
  Ocotillo family                                                     66
  Odostemon                                                           43
  Oenothera                                                           42
  Oleander                                                            15
  Olneya                                                              81
  Opuntia                                                 26, 27, 59, 94
  ORANGE flowers                                                   62-63
  Organpipe cactus                                                    74
  Orobanche                                                           85
  Orthocarpus                                                         93
  Our-Lord’s-candle                                                   22
  Owlclover                                                       63, 93

  Pachaba                                                             31
  Palmilla                                                            22
  Palo-de-hierro                                                      81
  Paloverde                                                       36, 81
  Papagolily                                                          98
  Paperdaisy                                                          54
  Paperflower                                                     32, 66
  Peabush                                                            102
  Pea family                 33, 36, 48, 49, 57, 58, 69, 81, 84, 86, 102
  Pencil-joint cholla                                                 26
  Peniocereus                                                         10
  Pentstemon                                                      83, 90
  Phacelia                                                        77, 88
  Phlox                                                               72
  Phlox family                                                    72, 76
  Phoradendron                                                        28
  Phragmites                                                          24
  Pincushion cactus                                                   75
  PINK flowers                                                     67-71
  Pink three-flower                                                   67
  Pitaya                                                              97
  Pitahaya dulce                                                      74
  Plantain                                                            25
  Plantain family                                                     25
  Plantago                                                            25
  Plantas-muy-malas                                                   68
  Plant names                                                          4
  Pluchea                                                             88
  Polanisia                                                           37
  Popotilla                                                           34
  Poppy family                                                    12, 63
  Potato family                                           11, 29, 78, 87
  Pricklepoppy                                                        12
  Pricklypear                                                     59, 60
  Prosopis                                                        48, 49
  Psilostrophe                                                    32, 56
  Puncturevine                                                    38, 39
  PURPLE flowers                                                   83-97
  Purplemat                                                           91
  Purple-nightshade                                                   87
  Purple roll-leaf                                                    91

  Quailplant                                                          88
  Queen-of-the-night                                                  10
  Quelite-salado                                                     108

  Rabbit-thorn                                                        78
  Rafinesquia                                                         14
  Rainbow cactus                                                      98
  Rattleweed                                                      57, 86
  Rayless-goldenrod                                                   55
  RED flowers                                                      65-66
  References                                                         109
  Reina-de-la-noche                                                   10
  Rivercane                                                           24
  Rosinbush                                                           25
  Rumex                                                              103
  Russian thistle                                                     65

  Sacahuiste                                                          21
  Sacred datura                                                       11
  Sage                                                               100
  Sagebrush                                                            5
  Saguaro                                                    5, 6, 9, 61
  Saltcedar                                                           71
  Salvia                                                             100
  Sandverbena                                                         96
  Scorpionweed                                                        77
  Screwbean                                                       48, 49
  Screw-pod mesquite                                                  48
  Seepweed                                                           108
  Seepwillow                                                      17, 25
  Sego-lily                                                           62
  Senita                                                              74
  Seniza                                                              79
  Simaruba family                                                    106
  Simmondsia                                                         104
  Skeletonweed                                                        70
  Slimwood                                                            66
  Smoketree                                                          102
  Soapweed                                                        19, 22
  Soaptree Yucca                                                      22
  Solanum                                                             87
  Sonoran Desert                                                       5
  Sore-eye-poppy                                                      68
  Sorrel                                                             103
  Sotol                                                       20, 21, 22
  Spanish-bayonet                                                 19, 22
  Spanish-dagger                                                      22
  Sphaeralcea                                                         68
  Spiderling                                                          92
  Spoonplant                                                          21
  Squawberry                                                          78
  Squaw-thorn                                                         78
  Starflower                                                          76
  Strawberry cactus                                                   97
  Strombocarpa                                                        49
  Suaeda                                                             108
  Sundrops                                                            42
  Sunflower family   14, 25, 30, 31, 32, 35, 47, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55,
                                                 56, 65, 82, 88, 95, 107
  Sunray                                                              51

  Tackstem                                                            30
  Tamarisk                                                            71
  Tamarix                                                             71
  Tansy aster                                                         82
  Tarbush                                                             47
  Tasajillo                                                           26
  Tearblanket                                                         33
  Teddybear cholla                                                    26
  Telegraph-plant                                                     35
  Teposote                                                            34
  Tesajo                                                              26
  Tesota                                                              81
  Texas Desert                                                         5
  Thistle                                                             95
  Thistlepoppy                                                        12
  Thornapple                                                          11
  Threadplant                                                         16
  Tomatillo                                                           78
  Tornillo                                                            48
  Torrito                                                             38
  Trailing four-o’clock                                               67
  Tree-cholla                                                         94
  Tree-tobacco                                                        29
  Tree-yucca                                                          18
  Tribulus                                                            38
  Trompillo                                                           87
  Tuna                                                                59

  Unicornplant                                                        63

  Varnishbush                                                         47
  VIOLET flowers                                                   77-82

  Wait-a-minute                                                       33
  Walkingstick cholla                                                 94
  Waterleaf family                                                77, 91
  Watermotie                                                          25
  Waterwally                                                          25
  Waterwillow                                                         25
  Wavy-thistle                                                        95
  Western-jimson                                                      11
  West Indian boerhaavia                                              92
  Whisker cactus                                                      74
  WHITE flowers                                                     9-18
  Wild-delphinium                                                    101
  Wild-hazel                                                         104
  Wild-heliotrope                                                 77, 88
  Wild-lilac                                                          79
  Wild morningglory                                                   99
  Wild-potato                                                         87
  Wild rhubarb                                                       103
  Wild-zinnia                                                         32
  Windmills                                                           67
  Wislizenia                                                      37, 41
  Wolfberry                                                           78
  Woolly-marigold                                                     54
  Woolly-loco                                                         86
  Woolly plantain                                                     25

  YELLOW flowers                                                   26-61
  Yellowcups                                                          42
  Yellowpad                                                           59
  Yellow paloverde                                                    36
  Yellow-wood                                                         43
  Yucca                                                6, 18, 19, 21, 22

  Zinnia                                                              32

The traveling public is becoming increasingly aware of the National
          Monuments, which have received less publicity than the great,
          well-known National Parks, yet which possess extremely
          interesting features.

Many of these are in the Southwest; we hope you will take the
          opportunity to visit one or more of them on your trip.

_Administered as a group by the General Superintendent, Southwestern
          National Monuments, Box 1562, Gila Pueblo, Globe, Arizona_

    Arches National Monument, Moab
    Natural Bridges National Monument (care of Arches)
    Rainbow Bridge National Monument (care of Navajo)
    Aztec Ruins National Monument, Aztec
    Capulin Mountain National Monument, Capulin
    Chaco Canyon National Monument, Bloomfield
    El Morro National Monument, El Morro
    Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument (care of General Supt.)
    Gran Quivira National Monument, Gran Quivira
    Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Chinle
    Casa Grande National Monument, Coolidge
    Chiricahua National Monument, Dos Cabezas
    Coronado National Memorial (care of Tumacacori)
    Montezuma Castle National Monument, Camp Verde
    Navajo National Monument, Tonalea
    Sunset Crater National Monument (care of Wupatki)
    Tonto National Monument, Roosevelt
    Tumacacori National Monument, Tumacacori
    Tuzigoot National Monument, Clarkdale
    Walnut Canyon National Monument, Rt. 1, Box 790, Flagstaff
    Wupatki National Monument, Tuba Star Route, Flagstaff

_Other areas administered by the National Park Service in the Southwest

    Grand Canyon National Monument, Grand Canyon
    Grand Canyon National Park, Grand Canyon
    Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Ajo
    Petrified Forest National Monument, Holbrook
    Pipe Spring National Monument, Moccasin
    Saguaro National Monument, Rt. 8, Box 520, Tucson
    Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Monument (care of Colorado
          National Monument)
    Colorado National Monument, Fruita
    Great Sand Dunes National Monument, Box 60, Alamosa
    Mesa Verde National Park
    Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Boulder City
    Lehman Caves National Monument, Baker
    Bandelier National Monument, Santa Fe
    Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Carlsbad
    White Sands National Monument, Box 231, Alamogordo
    Platt National Park, Sulphur
    Big Bend National Park
    Bryce Canyon National Park, Springdale
    Capitol Reef National Monument, Torrey
    Cedar Breaks National Monument (care of Zion)
    Timpanogos Cave National Monument, Pleasant Grove
    Zion National Monument (care of Zion)
    Zion National Park, Springdale

                    This booklet is published by the

 which is a non-profit distributing organization pledged to aid in the
preservation and interpretation of Southwestern features of outstanding
                           national interest.

The Association lists for sale interesting and excellent publications
for adults and children and very many color slides on Southwestern
subjects. These make fine gifts for birthdays, parties, and special
occasions, and many prove to be of value to children in their school
work and hobbies.

May we recommend, for instance, the following items which give
additional information on the Southwest?

 ****3. ARIZONA’S NATIONAL MONUMENTS. King, ed. Comprehensive      $3.00
        chapters, written by rangers, on the 16 monuments in the
        state and Grand Canyon. Beautifully illustrated, eight
        color pages, maps, 116 pp., cloth cover
 ***60. FLOWERS OF THE SOUTHWEST MESAS. Patraw and Janish.         $1.00
        Companion volume to the Deserts flower booklet, but
        covering the plants of the plateau country in the
        Southwest. More than 140 species are beautifully
        illustrated in the 100 plates of line drawings by Jeanne
        R. Janish, with descriptive text, 112 pp., color cover,
 ***61. FLOWERS OF THE SOUTHWEST MOUNTAINS. Arnberger and Janish.  $1.00
        Descriptions and illustrations of plants and trees of the
        southern Rocky Mountains and other Southwestern ranges
        above 7,000 feet elevation, the third book of the flower
        triad. 112 pp., color cover, paper
 ***64. POISONOUS DWELLERS OF THE DESERT. Dodge. Invaluable        $0.50
        handbook for any person living in the desert. Tells the
        facts about dangerous insects, snakes, etc., giving
        treatment for bites and stings, and dispels myths about
        harmless creatures mistakenly believed poisonous. 48 pp.,
        color cover
 ***67. ANIMALS OF THE SOUTHWEST DESERTS. Olin and Cannon.         $1.00
        Handsome illustrations, full descriptions, and life
        habits of the 42 most interesting and common species
        which make up the strange animal population of the lower
        desert country of the Southwest below the 4,500-foot
        elevation. 112 pp., 60 illus., color cover, paper
 **107. TUMACACORI’S YESTERDAYS. Jackson. The interestingly        $0.75
        written story of the 18th and early 19th century Indian
        and Spanish life in southern Arizona and Sonora as
        reflected in the history of the mission of San Jose de
        Tumacacori, now Tumacacori National Monument. 96 pp.,
        color paper cover, 53 excellent illus.
 **131. NALAKIHU. King. Thorough and concise reports on an         $4.00
        interesting pueblo in Wupatki National Monument.
        Technical but has interesting summaries and discussions.
        183 pp., 81 plates, 17 tables
 **650. FOR THE DEAN. Reed and King, eds. Handsome volume of       $6.00
        anthropological essays by 23 of his former students in
        honor of the noted Dr. Byron Cummings of the U. of
        Arizona. Valuable contribution to science, consisting
        mostly of Southwestern subjects. Authors include Haury,
        McGregor, Hawley, Wedel, Willey, Spicer, etc., and
        subjects cover wide field: Pueblo witchcraft, Cocopah
        history, Papago physical status, Great Kivas, etc. 319
        pp., illus., cloth

For the complete list of almost 100 publications and 1700 color slides
on Southwestern Indians, geology, ruins, plants, animals, history, etc.,
write the

                         MONUMENTS ASSOCIATION

                 Box 1562 D—Gila Pueblo, Globe, Arizona

                    [Illustration: Petroglyph logo]

                          Transcriber’s Notes

--Retained publication information from the printed edition: this eBook
  is public-domain in the country of publication.

--Corrected a few palpable typographical errors.

--Slightly relocated species images before descriptive text, and flower
  color after the descriptive text, where they had been dislocated
  because of page layout issues in the printed exemplar.

--In the text versions only, text in italics is delimited by

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Flowers of the Southwest Deserts" ***

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