Thursday, March 27, 2014

Early March Wildflowers in Sandia Park

We've had mild temperatures and some nice precipitation in March, so...voila...early wildflowers are blooming here in Sandia Park (6900 ft. elevation) just east of Albuquerque, New Mexico. 

Bladderpods with their bright yellow flowers and grey green foliage are everywhere among my juniper and pinon trees. Per "Wildflowers of the Sandia and Manzano Mountains of Central New Mexico" by Larry Littlefield and Pearl Burns, some historical native medicinal uses of the Bladderpod plant include: "Plant infusion taken as an emetic, and crushed plants mixed with salt as a rub for swellings by Keres; used by Navajo as an infusion to counteract the effect of spider bites." (page 115)

Fendler's Bladderpod Lesquerelia fendleri

I found lots of these tiny white flowers everywhere under my trees.  I identified them using Gene Jercinovic's Wildflowers of the Manzanos (out of print but available online) (page 155) as Wedge-leaf Whitlowgrass or White Draba (Draba cuneifolia).

Wedge-leaf Whitlowgrass or White Draba Draba cuneifolia
There are four green sepals and four white petals per flower.

The hairy basal rosette of slightly toothed eaves with a single stem with umbrel of white flowers of White Draba
Locoweed or Astragalus are pretty with their magenta flowers but they are poisonous to livestock.  Per Gene Jercinovic in his Wildflowers of the Manzanos, page 220:
"Several species of Astragalus in New Mexico 
contain chemicals toxic to animals, the alkaloid 
swainsonine, nitro-compounds, or selenium. 
Woolly locoweed contains swainsonine which 
has toxic effects on neurological, cardiovascular 
and reproductive systems. There is no effective 
treatment for locoweed poisoning."
Wooly Locoweed Astragalus mollissimus var. mollissimus

The flowers of the Wooly Locoweed
I see that Linda Carson at the 7MSN Ranch is hand-pulling every locoweed on her 80 acres to protect her equine herd.

 Cutflower Puccoon or Fringed Gromwell have delicate tubular yellow flowers with fringed petals.
"The showy yellow flowers of cutflower puccoon actually produce
few seeds. Later in the season, very small flowers form lower on the plant which never really open and are self-fertilizing. These obscure flowers actually produce most seed. Puccoon blooms from April to June between 4000 and 8000 ft." (Jercinovic, Wildflowers of the Manzanos, page 138)
Cutflower Puccoon Lithospermum incisum

One of the earliest spring wildflowers is Red-stemmed Filaree (Erodium cicutarium), a member of the Geranium Family. This hardy wildflower grows low to the ground and can be found throughout urban areas in cracks of sidewalks and streets.  It has tiny purple flowers and leaves that look like our house geranium flowers.  The seedpods are long and pointed, looking very much like the long bill of a bird; hence its various common names of Heronbill, Crane's Bill, or Stork's Bill. According to Jercinovic in Wildflowers of the Manzanos (pg. 250):
Filaree, a chiefly European plant, was apparently introduced into California during Spanish colonial times. Its seeds germinate in the fall, giving it an advantage over most annuals, so it has spread throughout the entire Southwest. Its small flowers, finely dissected leaves, and long, thin, “stork-bill” seed pods make it easy to identify. It blooms from March into October between 3000 and 7500 ft. 

Red-stemmed Filaree

The bright yellow Perky Sue Tetraneuris argentea is aleady blooming in the warm sunshine.  Gene Jercinovic's Wildflowers of the Manzanos (page 117) notes:  "The species name argentea is from the Latin word for silver. The foliage of Perky Sues have a silvery character due to long silky hairs. Perky Sue is a very early and persistent bloomer. It flowers from April into October between 5000 and 7500 ft."  A lot of people plant the easily cultivated and xeric Perky Sue in their gardens.

Perky Sue Tetraneuris argentea 

In the damp arroyos among the rocks, Dwarf Lousewort Pedicularis centranthera (page 412 in Wildflowers of the Manzanos) is almost unnoticeable.  It's flowers are ephemeral and will only be visible for a few days after rain before they go to seed.  Without the blooms, the lacy leaves are easily mistaken for ferns. Dwarf Lousewort is a hemiparasite, like Mistletoe and Indian Paintbrush, deriving it's nutrition from other vegetable material.  

Dwarf Lousewort

Here is a member of the Parsley Family: Wafer Parsnip Cymopterus constancei. 

Wafer Parsnip Cymopterus constancei
 "Wafer parsnip is an extremely early bloomer, setting flowers from early February to late April. The genus name Cymopterus is derived from Greek meaning “wavy wing”, in reference to the thin, papery flanges protruding from its seeds." (Jercinovic, Wildflowers of the Manzanos, pg. 11).  In a couple of weeks, the flowers will go to seed with their distinctive paper-like "wings".

The seeds of the Wafer Parsnip (May, 2012)

The bright yellow flowers of my forsythia bush look very much like spring outside my window.

Even inside, the flowers are recognizing that there is more sunlight lasting longer. The Christmas Cactus is blooming one more time and with great vigor.

Hope you're getting spring wildflowers in your neck of the woods!

1 comment:

  1. Most interesting and delicate spring followers. Judging by the remaining drifts our native woodland spring flowers should be blooming in a month or so or two or three....:(