Thursday, July 4, 2013

Wonders Never Cease

What do you feel
When you let go of the wheel?
Can you take a leap of faith?
Will you face the change of pace?
There are worlds out there
Beyond compare

Going on a journey
Somewhere far out east
We'll find the time to show you
Wonders never cease...
Wonders never cease...

- Morcheeba, Wonders Never Cease

The Great Basin floristic province of CA. Volcanics, low rain, tough winds, biting winters...

And thus a bunch of plant species well suited to those abuses. Hardy perennials that tough them out, and opportunist annuals that rush to grow in the fair windows.

Many of which are species uncommon or not even found on the west side of the Sierra.

Fortunately, I've recently been alerted to some shoulders I can stack on Jepson's to boost myself up when sorting out the flora I find. Michael Honer's Flora of the Glass Mountain Region, and Tom Schweich's Plant Check List for the Mono Basin.

Both are excellent resources and have already proven to be great sanity checks.

Here's 20 close-ups of species I saw on my recent trip, 7 of which were new to me.

Eatonella nivea, is called False Tickhead, but I think Tribble Plant is far more appropriate. It's a "monotypic" species - i.e., there are no other plants in the world in the genus Eatonella:

false tickhead

Purple Mat, Nama densum, is another great belly-flower than likes to hang with Eatonella:


The pink plagues of the wonderful Skunky Monkeyflower, Mimulus nanus var. mephiticus, are always a welcome treat:

more monkeys

The tiny Suksdorf's Monkeyflower, Mimulus suksdorfii, was a first timer for me:


But the lovely Lanceleaf Primroses, Chylismia claviformis ssp. lancifolia (formerly a Camissonia), were old and very welcome friends, and showed that annuals were starting ok this year:



A look-alike is Yellow Bee Plant, Peritoma lutea, that seems to pop-up here and there, often in disturbed areas. I bet it's a fire-follower, too:

bee plant

Four Phloxes were in bloom at various elevations - Stansbury's, Phlox stansburyi, Hood's, Phlox hoodii, Nuttall's, Leptosiphon nuttallii var. pubescens, and Prickly, Linanthus pungens:

stanbury's phlox hood's phlox

nuttall's linanthus prickly phlox

And four sunflowers showed fair faces - Pumice Alpine Gold, Hulsea vestita:

pumice alpine gold

Lobeleaf Groundsel, Packera multilobata:


Brewer's Daisy, Erigeron breweri, that likes rim rocks:


And the too-cool Rayless Daisy, Erigeron aphanactis, that seems to like basalts:

aphanactis or austiniae?

The striking Cushion Buckwheat, Eriogonum ovalifolium, also likes basalt volcanic areas:

cushion buckwheat

And the always eye-catching Desert Painbrush, Castilleja chromosa, likes any place it can tap into its hosts - Big Sagebrush, Rabbitbrush, Desert Peach...


The big, perennial Yellow Popcornflower, Cryptantha confertiflora, is a fave-o-mine that I'd love to grow at home, but haven't had success from seeds yet:

yellow popcorn

Abronia turbinata, Transmontane Sand Verbena, looks ready for the beach:

sand verbena

And Desert Snowberry, Symphoricarpos longiflorus, is a gorgeous shrub snowberry that explodes with long-tubed pink flowers:

desert snowberry

Finally, a common little delight that likes slopes and disturbed roadsides, is Mono Gilia, Aliciella monoensis. Formerly a Gilia, and now in a genus named for the great Alice Eastwood:

mono gilia

Ah, Great Basin plants. You have to love species that like to play in the sand.

Happy Fourth of July, all.



  1. Great post!!! I love the Great Basin flora!

  2. What an interesting combo of scientific jargon and friendly chat. I almost felt like I was reading a blog about a hollywood celeb and that random truth would give us any new "dirt" on the stars of this show in an entertaining and timely fashion.

    1. Thanks Kem. Friends would likely describe my conversational style similarly. :)


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