Photographs by Michael Charters

Thanks to a tip from Keir Morse, I drove about 210 miles east from my house out into the broiling Colorado Desert just west of Blythe in hopes of finding the uncommon desert unicorn-plant Proboscidea althaeifolia in the very small and monotypic (in California) family Martyniaceae. This was another of the plants that was high up on my wants list, and before this I had only encountered it once down in Anza-Borrego earlier this year in the form of some dried up fruits from last year. It was a scorching 111° at noon in a sandy, creosote bush-strewn landscape, and I had to do some fast talking to pursuade some security officers to give me 20 minutes to look for the plant because I was technically not supposed to be there, but that was all I needed, and I found several plants including one with flowers on it. There was also a fantastic display of chinchweed covering a substantial area and a few other things that I saw in my brief visit, but this was one time that I was not sorry to have to leave. The symbol ^ is for a taxon that was new to me when I photographed it today.


Desert unicorn-plant
Proboscidea althaeifolia

[althaeifolia means 'with leaves like
Althaea, a genus native to Europe
and western Asia]


Abrams' spurge ^
Chamaesyce abramsiana


Pectis papposa var. papposa


California kallstroemia
Kallstroemia californica

Coulter's globemallow
Sphaeralcea coulteri