In The Desert
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A perennial flowering plant in the pea family "Fabaceae" that is cultivated as an important forage crop in the US, Canada, Argentina, France and Austrailia.
Alfalfa has been cultivated since at least the 4th century AD and has some use in herbal medicine. Grows wild.
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Wild Flowers, Weeds
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(Aquilegia scopulorum) is the scientific name for the Rock Columbine shown below. These plants are native in the desert at higher elevations, this was photographed at over 9,000 ft. in the desert southwestern portion of Utah. This is one of the prettiest flowers we've found in the wild.
(Purshia stasburiana) is the scientific name for the Cliffrose shown below. These plants bloom in the Spring/Summer and prefer drier, rocky, steep slopes. It's other common names are the Buckbrush and Quinine Bush.
Weeds are entered here as a way to identify certain plants you might find n the desert. For instance the first one shown here could be mistaken for a wildflower. It is very pretty when seen in person. It could also be mis-identified as a dandelion. Shown here to help with your discoveries when traveling and photographing flowers in the desert.
(Tragopogon dubius) Also known as "goatsbeard" or "oysterplant" This weed is not native to the US. It is native to Europe and Asia. It is very prolific and can be found in large numbers in the desert. The seed ball reminds you of a very large dandelion.
These were found in Southern, Utah. The species is probably a Canadian Thistle. These plants were over 4 ft. tall. Considered a nuisance but very pretty. It is a weed.
(Datura wrightii) is the scientific name for this really big, pretty Lilly. You'll always know that it is the Datura by the 5 "teeth" at the outer edge of the flower. This is a very poisonous plant, including the flowers, leaves, and roots. Here are a few of it's other names - "Western Jimsom Weed", "Nightshade", and "Indian Whiskey". It grows from Mexico up into lower Utah where this one was photographed. Pretty but deadly.
Rocky Mountain Bee Plant
One of the showiest wildflowers in the desert southwest and prairie regons of the U.S. Often found along dry roadsides and waste places. This is an annual herb that can grow up to 4-feet tall.
It has an unpleasant odor and is mostly avoided by livestock.
It is an important plant for the Southwestern Indian tribes. The young tender shoots and leaves are good sources of vitamin A and calcium. In the past they were used as potherbs or medicinally as teas for fevers and other ailments. The seeds were ground to make gruel or bread.
The Navajo still use the plant as a source of yellow-green dye for their beautiful wool rugs and blankets.
This is the yellow variation of the same plant. It was photographed at Capital Reef National Park. It does have a different scientific name and is not as common as the purple variety.
Plant ID by Chad Reid at the Agricultural Division of the Utah State University USU.
This photo courtesy of Paula Kerr
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These were found in Eastern, Utah. This one was in full bloom. Flowers can be pink, purple, red or white - flower heads appear to be a single flower but is composed of several flowers. There are at least 5 species of Cirsium at Arches National Park and it is a perennial herb. Blooms in Arches National Park in May and June.
Photo Courtesy of Paula Kerr
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(Rumex hymenosepalus) - scientific name. The reddish pink inforescense of rumex hymenosepalus consists of elmongated clusters of many dozen small flowers, each formed of small sepals about half an inch long. The leaves and rhubarb-like stems are edible if cooked to remove some of the oxalic acid, otherwise they can be harmful. These plants are high in soluble oxalates, so they should only be eaten in limited amounts. Poisonous - The plants contain high levels of oxalic acid and can sicken livestock. Height - to 2 1/2 ft. (76cm) tall. This photo was taken in Red Rock Canyon on the First Creek Trail by Larry Reyes.