DEATH VALLEY MARCH 2012 PAGE ONE
Photographs by Michael Charters




Death Valley really earned its name this year, which according to the Park botanist who spent the entire weekend with us was the driest since 1953. Annuals were scarce to nonexistent and since many of the perennials are later bloomers, we were hard pressed to find any blooms at all. Add to that the tremendous windstorm that raged through the valley from Thursday night through all day Saturday with winds gusting to 50 mph, collapsing tents and even tearing one to shreds, and making it impossible to prepare and serve any kind of cooked food, and one can readily appreciate the extreme difficulty we had. There were several early departures and I decamped to spend Friday and Saturday nights in the relative comfort of the Furnace Creek Ranch. A large group ended up sleeping on the floor of the Park botanist's house. Nevertheless there was great satisfaction in having shared and survived this experience with others of like mind, and in the fine company of former Park botanist and peerless trip leader Dana York, the group demonstrated resilience and a determined and optimistic attitude which carried us through. From the 88° at the campsite Thursday afternoon to the 31° at Dante's View on Sunday morning, from the pupfish at Salt Creek to the winding corridors of Titus Canyon, we drove and hiked through some spectacular formations and saw a side of Death Valley that most people miss. For most of us it whetted our appetites to return to this area in a year like 2005 to view the opposite extreme. The symbol ^ next to the common name indicates a taxon that was new to me when I photographed it on this field trip and photos marked with an asterisk were taken at the Visitor Center. This was my 13th Jepson Herbarium field workshop. Coincidence? Thanks to Hartmut Wisch for the fly identification on page 4.


   
Sticky ringstem, Death Valley sticky ring
Anulocaulis annulatus
Nyctaginaceae


 
Turtleback
Psathyrotes ramosissima
Asteraceae


   
Lesser mohavea
Mohavea breviflora
Plantaginaceae
 
Gravel ghost *
Atrichoseris platyphylla
Asteraceae
 
Apricot mallow *
Sphaeralcea ambigua var. ambigua
Malvaceae


 
 
 
Arrow weed
Pluchea sericea
Asteraceae



 
 
 
Creosote bush
Larrea tridentata
Zygophyllaceae
 
 



   
Southwestern bushy bluestem ^
Andropogon glomeratus var. scabriglumis
Poaceae
 



   
Tadpoles
 
Unidentified cryptantha
Cryptantha sp.
Boraginaceae


Iodine bush
Allenrolfea occidentalis
Chenopodiaceae
 
 
 



 
 
Desert trumpet
Eriogonum inflatum
Polygonaceae
 
 



Salt Creek pupfish
Cyprinodon salinus salinus
Cyprinodontidae