APRIL 2016

After our spectacular visit to Death Valley in February, I started thinking about a plant I had seen in Titus Canyon on my March 2012 Jepson workshop. Called Rock lady, it is extremely rare and only grows in Titus and Fall Canyons. The single plant we saw then had not been in bloom. I determined that its bloom time was April to June so I made two reservations for the Ranch at Furnace Creek in late April and mid-May. Tom Chester agreed to join me for the first of these, and then Nancy Accola and Walt Fidler made arrangements to be with us as well. Our plan was to spend the day driving up the Beatty Road, stopping first at Daylight Pass, making a quick foray into Nevada, and then continue down the 27 mile long one-way dirt road from near Beatty, cross the Grapevine Mts at Red Pass, and finally dropping down through Titus Canyon and back to the valley floor. Whereas on our February trip to Death Valley on which we found the flora of the southern part of the park to be at peak bloom, so on this trip did we find the flora of this area of Death Valley to be at peak bloom. There was so much to look at that we stopped at least 19 times to get out of the car and explore various areas, and it was almost 6 pm when we made our last stop in the area where the Rock lady had been vouchered. I had almost given up all hope that we were going to find it when the intrepid Tom Chester, investigating a small side canyon, found a single plant in bloom. There were actually two plants there but one was hopelessly out of reach. Later Walt Fidler found a third plant in bloom, and my No. 1 priority was achieved. We didn't get back to the Ranch until 8 pm, and not wishing then to start a 5-hour drive back to Pasadena, I chose to stay over a second night. It had been a fantastic day. I feel very fortunate to have seen and photographed such a rare plant in bloom, and I thank my compatriots for helping to facilitate that. The symbol ^ next to the common name is for a taxon that was new to me when I photographed it on this field trip.

Rock lady
Holmgrenanthe petrophila

[Considered the rarest plant in Death Valley, named for Professor Arthur Herman Holmgren, 1912-1992]

Notchleaf phacelia
Phacelia crenulata var. ambigua

Caltha-leaved phacelia
Phacelia calthifolia

Atriplex hymenelytra

Gravel ghost
Atrichoseris platyphylla

Peucephyllum schottii

Desert fivespot
Eremalche rotundifolia

Apricot mallow
Sphaeralcea ambigua var. ambigua

Lesser mohavea
Mohavea breviflora
Bigelow's monkeyflower
Mimulus bigelovii var. cuspidatus


Copyright © 2016 by Michael L. Charters.
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