Desert Star(Monoptilon bellioides)
The Southern Mojave Desert
Chuckwalla Mountains

San Bernardino County

April 8-9, 2001

The Chuckwalla Mountains is a transitional zone (climatically and vegetationally) between the
Mojave Desert and the Colorado Desert. This is a region dominated by dry conditions and vast
tracts of isolation--yet punctuated by ancient (and modern) petroglyphs, oases, earthquakes,
thundershowers, bighorn sheep, desert tortise and incredible spring wildflowers. Truly an
eccletic mix, but then, there is no better way to describe the southern California desert.

California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera) thriving in a remote oasis.

Sand blazing star (Mentzelia involucrata) with remarkably satiny petals

Bigelow monkeyflower (Mimulus bigelovii)

Closeup of the Bigelow monkeyflower

By far, a favorite desert plant of mine: the Ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens). The bloom, above, appears in the spring regardless of rainfall totals. The leaves, however, will only appear after an adequate rainfall. After photosynthesizing for a couple of weeks, the leaves will fall off when the dry season returns. This drought-deciduous behavior will occur up to six or seven times a year, depending on rainfall cycles.

Broomrape (Orobanche cooperi). Found in a dry, sandy wash, this rather innocuous root parasite was a fun discovery.

Ghostflower (Mohavea confertiflora). Also found in a sandy wash, this beauty was one of my favorite new finds...the flower's nearly translucent quality made it fascinating, although a bit of a trick to spot from a moving vehicle (which somehow I managed).

Engelmann hedgehog cactus (Echinocereus engelmannii).
A true jewel found thriving under an ocotillo.


Revised: June 14, 2002

This site ©2002 Ann Dittmer.