Friday, May 18, 2007

The Lone Delphinium

When I set out on today's walk, I decided it was time to check out the delphinium place, though anticipating nothing thanks to the dry, dry spring. But lo and behold: one lone blossom! In a wet year, there would be lush spikes on at least five to ten plants this short walk from my house; in other locations (along SR89 near Ashfork, for example), these true blue larkspurs would form a smashing display. However, I am feeling truly rewarded by today's find.

Since I've turned this into a wildflower walk, I offer the wild grape vine I spotted. Don't know if those clusters are fruit -- or flower. Anyone?

Again, a possible result of this spring's aridity -- a standard fall aster already in bloom.

The habit and form of these little white flowers suggests that they are some variety of milkweed. Makes sense -- there must be some local plant that supports those woolly bears who invaded last summer.

The neighborhood prickly pear is revving up for blossoms. It looks as though there are new pads also -- perfect for nopalitos, if you know how to get rid of the big and tiny spines. I don't.

Some of the oaks are in bloom, too; other oaks are shedding old and adding new leaves in this season.

Here's one of the more spectacular wild flowers hereabouts -- the desert four o'clock. As long as there's not a hard frost, the mirabella is a happy camper, putting out big, glossy leaves, pretty fuschia blossoms and handsome stripedy seeds in due time. Despite the aridity. The plant's secret: a huge, yamlike root that hides out a good foot or so below the surface, intertwining with underground rocks. Warning: don't ever try to dig one of these up. I wore myself out one afternoon, after getting permission from a builder to rescue the plants. It's a heckuva lot easier to plant the seeds.

Oh, yes -- I got an ID on the mysterious yellow flowered plant pictured earlier this week. From Jim Morgan over at Wings of Nature. Its moniker is fineleaf woollywhite.


Anonymous said...

Nice photos. Wish you could have had some good rain, to bring out the flowers.

Granny J said...

Steve -- for the flowers, yes. More important, to lower the wildfire potential! We've had a bit of rain this week -- but barely enough to register...

k said...

Fineleaf woolywhite.

What an excellent name! And the *fineleaf* part is right on target, too. The leaves on that plant were very pretty. Almost like a certain kind of...sedum.

k said...

That was spectacular.

One thing I LOVE and can't grow here is larkspur. Any kind of delphinium, really. Although I keep thinking that in an El Nino winter, when it's cooler, I may try them again, someday.

That grape vine? I think I'd have to be there in person with my very best reading glasses on to even hope to know! Some of those plants have flowers that look exactly like tiny fruits starting up. Then, a week or two later, you finally see some tiny white petals and get all embarrassed, realizing they were little flower buds all along.

That aster? It almost looks like a Florida Climbing Aster, doesn't it?

Granny J said...

k -- the fineleaf woollywhite is actually in the aster/sunflower family -- a far cry from sedums.

As for larkspure/ delphiniums -- we have several here in AZ of all places. There is a lovely pale sky blue perennial that grows down at desert elevations in wet years. The deep blue that I posted about is a mid-elevation fellow & does show up in desert situations. The last of the three is a big bushy plant found at 7000 ft elevations where there's good water; it is covered in deep blue flowers in season and can be spectacular.

Granny J said...

A climbing aster, yet -- that's a new one to me, tho believe it or not, we have a very pretty climbing milkweed hereabouts.

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