On the first part of the journey
I was looking at all the life
There were plants and birds and rocks and things
There was sand and hills and rings
The first thing I met was a fly with a buzz
And the sky, with no clouds
The heat was hot and the ground was dry
But the air was full of sound...
- A Horse With No Name, America
Even in a year of inconsistent rains that left the Cali annuals behind, there was flora to be found in the Mojave for our 2012 Herp Holiday.
And, while the sandy and spiny landscapes are always stunning (and the lizards, snakes and camp-outs the true raison d'), on a bad year for botanizing, spotting these hidden pockets of color is like stumbling upon rare gems.
Our lava camp at the edge of the Mojave National Preserve
Kelso Dunes as seen from our camp in the Providence Mountains
Typical Mojave textures
Many of the desert perennials we saw were the usual suspects...
Desert Senna and Apricot Mallow
Creosote and Desert Mistletoe
Bladder Sage and Desert Willow
Brittlebush and Mojave Aster
But, much like old friends, they're always welcome sights.
Of course, the brightly-blooming cacti are the true gems of the arid expanses. Here's the six species we've found in flower in the eastern Mojave...
Calico Cactus, Echinocereus engelmannii
Silver Cholla, Opuntia echinocarpa
Mojave Mound, Echinocereus triglochidiatus
Grizzly-Bear Prickly-Pear, Opuntia erinacea
Beavertail Cactus, Opuntia basilaris var. basilaris
Pancake-Pear, Opuntia chlorotica
Along with the colorful cacti, a few other perennials also showed fair faces...
Yerba Amarilla and Pima Rhatany - two flowers vying for hardest name to remember
Two big Penstemons - Palmer's and Snap Dragon
Panamint Liveforever and Ground Cherry, which is related to tomatillo
Desert Marigold and Hoary Aster in the Dunes
Ah, the power of perennials. Whether woody, succulent or herbaceous, and with roots, tubers or bulbs, they're the tough customers you can always count on.
Year after year.
Even bad years, when they're like jewels in the desert.
Prickly Poppy on Kelbaker Road