What's That Flower Part 2

We will start this section with the flowers seen during the remainder of the year.  

One small but pretty flower that one can see into October is Showy Menodora, pictured above.  The whole plant is no more than eight inches high, and can be seen growing along trails, such as the Pond Trail.  

Another beautiful flower that can be seen at this time of year is the Winged Sand Verbena.  We’ve seen this one growing in a large meadow on North Mountain.  Scarlet Gaura, a flower you may be familiar with from your garden, is still in bloom in October; it seems to bloom all summer.

Our latest October discovery is Snapdragon Vine, which we have seen growing in the Mesquite forest on the Pond Trail.

One final yellow daisy identification:  there is a bush we’ve seen growing several places in the basin, which is about three feet tall and wide.  We have finally identified it as Tarbush.  It starts to bloom in mid-October.

Most of the daisies continue to bloom well into autumn.  This includes purple Asters and white Fleabane daisies as well as the myriad of yellow ones.

 The remainder of this section will focus on the fruits that one can see starting around September.  Some plants, such as the prickly pear, set their fruits much earlier, but they take a while to ripen.

First is Desert Yaupon (Schaefferia cuneifolia).  We found it growing up on North Mountain at the top of the chain trail, in the kind of rocky habitat that it likes. 

Pencil Cholla (Cylindropuntia ramosissima), shown above, is also known as Christmas Cactus, due to the color of the fruits.  This is a cactus that is best admired from a distance.  It is apparently very difficult to get the spines out of whatever body part touches them.

Javelina Bush (Condalia ericoides) has beautiful dark red fruits at this time of year.  This bush also has some of the longest thorns we’ve seen (there are a few visible in the photo).

We’ve posted pictures of the flowers of Catclaw Acacia earlier.  This photo shows the seed pods.  Amaranth is an edible seed that is currently popular among foodies.  It grows all over the park.  This photo, taken in early spring, shows what the mature seed-bearing part of the plant looks like.

One of the plants that grows all over the park, which is edible, is Amaranth.  This photo shows what it looks like then the seeds are ripe.  We will post the vegetative growth and flower pictures when we can get them.

Last, but not least, we have the Sumacs, which, like the Javelina Bush are covered with small fruits.  The first photo is of Desert Sumac (Rhus microphylla).  The second photo is of Fragrant Sumac (Rhus aromatica), which is also known as Skunk Bush.

We cannot finish this section without mentioning the Honey Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa).  We are including a photo of it in bloom, and a photo of the ripe pods (taken of pods from our trees at our home).  The Honey Mesquite is almost as common in this part of the desert as the Creosote Bush.  Part of the reason you see it so much in the park is because the seed pods are very nutritious, to livestock as well as humans, and the cattle that were raised on the Escontrias ranch helped to spread the tree.  This tree has a very hard wood that is great for making furniture, as well as for smoking meats.  Note:  if you have access to Mesquite pods, they make a flour that adds a wonderful flavor to baked goods.

If you have made it all the way to the end of these pages, you can see that the Chihuahuan Desert is far from barren and bleak.  Admittedly Hueco Tanks is an oasis, which means that you will see more flowers here than elsewhere in the desert.  However, even in the surrounding desert, during the normal blooming seasons, you will find a surprising number of flowers.  There are many other flowering plants at the park that we have not yet been able to identify.  So these blog posts do not begin to cover everything that grows in the park.  As we are able to identify more of the flowering plants of the area, we will add them to this post.

If you visit Hueco Tanks during the winter months it will seem barren.  Winter is the season when plants get their rest so they can bloom again for us come spring.  The park is still a wonderful place to go for relaxation and restoration during the winter.

© Susan L. Stone 2015                   rovingstones@me.com