Blooming this week in the environs of Abiquiú, NM
As published in the Abiquiú News in 2017. See what bloomed in 2016 and 2018.

October 13, 2017

Heterotheca villosa

Hairy Golden Aster

Heterotheca villosa
Sunflower Family (Asteraceae)

Found in dry, sandy, gravelly areas, roadsides
Seen blooming on October 9, 2017 at the Post Office

The Golden Aster is the champion of wildflowers; I could have used it every week since June when it started blooming. It has survived weeks of drought and has been mowed many times but still it keeps producing starbursts of yellow to brighten our roadsides. When it is given the chance, it grows up to two feet high in bushy clumps, often sprawling, with narrow grayish or green leaves and reddish stems. Leaves and stems are covered in short hairs. Flowers are less than 1" across. It has a long list of traditional medicinal uses: the Cheyenne burned the plant as incense to remove evil spirits from the house. They drank a tea of the tops and stems when feeling poorly or to improve sleep. The Hopi drank an infusion of leaves and flowers for chest pain. The Navajo used the plant as a ceremonial emetic and chant lotion, and sweathouse emetic for indigestion and sexual infection. A cold infusion of leaves was used to kill a swallowed red ant. An infusion was thrown on an ant hill to kill red ants. A poultice of heated root was applied for toothache. Source.

October 6, 2017

Spiranthes magnicamporum

Great Plains Lady’s Tresses

Spiranthes magnicamporum
Orchid Family (Orchidaceae)

Found in wet to dry sandy soil
Seen blooming on October 1, 2017 by the Rio Chama

There are over 27,000 species of orchids in the world living in nearly all ecosystems except glaciers, true desert and open water. Only a handful grow in New Mexico but I was lucky enough to spot this beautiful plant, which does not look at all like the orchids we see cultivated in pots. It is over a foot tall, the flower spike is 4 inches long and smells strongly of vanilla. The delicate, nodding white flowers grow in a spiral around the stem. The lip of the flower is finely scalloped and has a yellowish center. Flowers are up to ½ inch long with a winged trumpet-like appearance. A tincture of the root is used in homeopathy for skin infections, painful breasts, pain in the kidneys and eye complaints. Tea made from a related Lady’s Tresses is used as a diuretic for urinary disorders, venereal disease, and as a wash to strengthen infants.

September 29, 2017

Eriogonum annuum

Annual Buckwheat
Umbrella Plant

Eriogonum annuum
Buckwheat Family (Polygonaceae)

Found in dry, sandy areas, roadsides
Seen blooming on September 26, 2017 by Hwy 554

There are many species of Buckwheat growing in our area, most are low, bushy plants but the Annual Buckwheat is a grey, woolly plant one to five feet tall with wide, flat-topped sprays of minute white flowers at the top. When it grows in masses, it is a pretty, lacy layer above the grasses and purple asters. The flowers are long-lasting and turn pink as they mature. Leaves are mainly on the lower part of the stem. The Lakota people traditionally used the Annual Buckwheat as an aid in the treatment of sore mouths in children, in association with teething. Leaves were used to stain buffalo and deer hides by the Kiowa. The species was considered a 'life medicine' by the Navajo people; it was used also for protection against witches.

September 22, 2017

Ericameria nauseosa

Rubber Rabbitbrush
Gray Rabbitbrush

Ericameria nauseosa
Sunflower Family (Asteraceae)

Found in disturbed soil, roadsides
Seen blooming on September 18, 2017 in Plaza Blanca

Chamisa is a common shrub in this area growing from two to nine feet high and wide. It is a highly variable species, 21 varieties are recognized. Some have leaves and twigs covered in a grey felt, others are greener. Some lose their leaves at flowering time, others do not.  Some bloom in July and have shed their seeds when others are blooming in September and October providing vivid color and a pollen source for insects late in the summer. Typically it has whitish to green flexible stems, and narrow, grayish-green leaves. The flower heads are clusters of lemon-yellow to golden disk flowers which have a pungent smell when crushed. True to its name, Rubber Rabbitbrush can be used to make rubber, but the process is not cost-effective. Compounds in the plant are still being investigated for medicine and as an insect repellent. It has numerous utilitarian uses such as brooms, brushes, baskets, dye and arrows. Bark makes green dye and flowers make yellow dye. The Navajo used this plant for coughs, colds, fever, rheumatism, internal injuries, headache and menstrual pain. Specimens growing in Bayo Canyon, near Los Alamos, New Mexico, exhibit a concentration of radioactive strontium-90 300,000 times higher than a normal plant. Their roots reach into a closed nuclear waste treatment area, mistaking strontium for calcium due to its similar chemical properties. The radioactive shrubs are "indistinguishable from other shrubs without a Geiger counter." Source.

September 15, 2017

Cuscuta pentagona


Cuscuta pentagona
Morning Glory Family (Convolvulaceae)

Found in sandy, disturbed soil
Seen blooming on August 28, 2017 by CR 142

Dodder is a parasitic, thread-like, yellow-orange vine which grows entwined around other plants looking like a pile of orange string. If you look closely you can see the tiny white flowers with five petals clustered in the vines. The pea-sized fruit is the color of the stem. When the Dodder seed germinates, it develops an anchoring root, a stem forms and rotates in search of a host. When an attachment with a host has been created, the anchorage root dies and the plant lives off its host. An Asian Indian proverb states that the person finding the root of the dodder will have access to all the riches of the earth. Dodder species are used extensively for medicinal purposes across Asia, from herbal mixtures to treat ovarian cancer and postmenopausal osteoporosis to antifungal and insecticidal applications. Read more about Dodder.

September 8, 2017

Asclepias subverticillata

Poison Milkweed
Horsetail Milkweed
Whorled Milkweed
Hierba Lechosa

Asclepias subverticillata
Dogbane Family (Apocynaceae)

Found in sandy, disturbed soil, roadsides
Seen blooming on August 27, 2017 by Hwy 96 near Abiquiu Lake

This Milkweed grows amongst the grasses by roadsides to 2 ½ feet tall with many branches, sometimes in colonies of many plants. The stems contain a milky sap. The very narrow leaves have rolled edges and grow in widely spaced whorls of 3 or 4 leaves around the stem. Flowers are white or greenish and are less than ½" across. They have a complex flower structure with petals turned back and a hooded central column with horns. It is an important nectar source for several insect species such as the Great Black Wasp and Carpenter Bees, and a host to the Monarch Butterfly. It is toxic to free-ranging livestock but has beneficial medicinal uses for humans. The Hopi used it to increase mother's milk flow and the Zuni spun the cotton from the seed pods to weave for clothing and cords. Read more about Milkweeds.

September 1, 2017

Oenothera albicaulis

Prairie Evening Primrose
Whitest Evening Primrose
Whitestem Evening Primrose

Oenothera albicaulis
Evening Primrose Family (Onagreaceae)

Found in sandy, disturbed soil, roadsides
Seen blooming on August 28, 2017 by Hwy 554

Patches of this bright white Evening Primrose can be seen along our roadsides. It grows to about 18” high with many branches and pale stems. Flowers are over 1" across, with four heart-shaped petals, and are pleasantly fragrant. Flowers open in the evening then wilt and turn pink in the heat of the sun the next morning. The roots were used to make a poultice or lotion to treat swellings, sore throats, and muscle strains; the fruits and seeds were added to soup or made into gravy. The roots taste best in late autumn, winter and early spring.

August 25, 2017

Psilostrophe tagetina


Psilostrophe tagetina
Sunflower Family (Asteraceae)

Found in sandy, flat, open or disturbed ground
Seen blooming on August 21, 2017 by Hwy 84 in Piedra Lumbre

Grows to 12" high in a rounded form with bright yellow flowers and gray-green stems and leaves, often in large colonies. The leaves are thick and narrow. The f lowers are about ½ inch across and have usually three notched petals which turn papery as they mature, hence the common name. Native Americans use blossoms to make a yellow paint or dye. An infusion of the leaves is used as lotion for itching, for stomachache, gargled for a sore throat and as a ceremonial eyewash by the Navajo. The Zuni apply a poultice of the root to rattlesnake bites.

August 18, 2017

Helianthus annuus

Common Sunflower
Annual Sunflower

Helianthus annuus
Sunflower Family (Asteraceae)

Found in disturbed soil, roadsides, open sunny areas
Seen blooming on August 15, 2017 by CR 155

Most people can name the Sunflower but how many know that the tallest sunflower measured 30 feet 1 inch and was grown by Hans-Peter Schiffer in Karst, Germany, as verified on 28 August 2014 by Guinness World Records. In our area the wild Sunflower can grow to over 9 feet tall, widely branching, with hairy, reddish stems. The domesticated Sunflower, grown for seeds and oil, usually has a single stem topped by a much larger flower. Leaves are heart-shaped, rough and coarsely toothed with long stalks. The center of the flower is reddish-purple. Bracts under the flower are broad and oval. Traditionally, several Native American groups planted sunflowers on the north edges of their gardens as a "fourth sister" to the better known three sisters; corn, beans, and squash. Read here about the medicinal and edible uses of the Sunflower and here for the history, culture and a fascinating discussion of the mathematical spiral arrangement of the disk flowers.

August 11, 2017

Abronia fragrans

Snowball Sand Verbena
Prairie Snowball
Fragrant Verbena
Sand Verbena

Abronia fragrans
Four O’clock Family (Nyctaginaceae)

Found in dry, sandy soil
Seen blooming on August 7, 2017 by CR 142

Snowball Sand Verbena was blooming here in June and had gone to seed but the recent rains have given it, and several other plants, another chance to reproduce. It grows upright and sprawling to 3 feet with sticky, hairy stems and fleshy, opposite leaves. The funnel-shaped flowers are fragrant and usually white but can be pinkish and grow in a ball shaped cluster over two inches across. The flowers open in the late afternoon and close again in the morning, a habit which gives the Nyctaginaceae family its common name of Four O'clock. It has a wide range of uses. Among the Navajo, it is used for boils and taken internally when a spider is swallowed. The Kayenta Navajo use it as a cathartic, for insect bites, as a sudorific, as an emetic, for stomach cramps, and as a general panacea. The Ramah Navajo use it as a lotion for sores or sore mouth and to bathe perspiring feet. The Keres, Acoma and Laguna mix ground roots with cornmeal and eat it to gain weight. The Keres also use this mixture to keep from becoming greedy and make ceremonial necklaces from the plant. The Ute use roots and flowers for stomach and bowel troubles, whereas the Zuni use the fresh flowers alone for stomach aches. Source.

August 4, 2017

Cichorium intybus

Blue Sailors

Cichorium intybus
Sunflower Family (Asteraceae)

Found at roadsides and in disturbed soil
Seen blooming on August 1, 2017 by Highway 84 and the PO

This pretty blue flower is considered a noxious weed in Colorado and New Mexico because of its invasive tendencies but it is also grown as a forage crop for livestock. It can grow to 5 feet tall with a stout, rigid stem and mostly basal dandelion-like leaves. The flowers and small leaves grow from the stem. Flowers are more than an inch across and have squared, toothed petals. The leaves are eaten in some cultures. The roots are dried and ground and used as a coffee substitute or as an additive to beer. Cultivated varieties of chicory include Belgian endive and radicchio. Medicinally it is used to eliminate intestinal parasites and as a tonic. Read more and even more.

July 28, 2017

Zeltnera arizonica

Arizona Centaury

Zeltnera arizonica (Centaurium arizonicum)
Gentian Family (Gentianaceae)

Found in moist, shady areas, stream sides
Seen blooming on July 22, 2017 by the Rio Chama

Arizona Centaury grows to two feet tall with bright green upright stems. The leaves clasp the stems and are green, succulent and lance-shaped. The attractive flowers are one inch across and have five bright pink, narrowly oval petals, a white center, and bright yellow stamens. I found no edible or medicinal uses for Arizona Centaury, it is just a pretty flower.

July 21, 2017

Glycyrrhiza lepidota

Wild Licorice
American Licorice

Glycyrrhiza lepidota
Pea Family (Fabaceae)

Found in moist areas
Seen blooming on July 16, 2017 by the Rio Chama

Wild Licorice grows to almost 4 feet tall with an erect, sticky, leafy stem. Leaves are divided into leaflets. Flowers are light green to white and grow in dense clusters. The seed pods produced are covered with hooked bristles. It has long tough brown roots which can be eaten raw or cooked. After eating a roasted root in 1806, Meriwether Lewis described an "agreeable flavour not unlike the sweet pittaitoe." The whole plant is used for medicinal purposes by a number of Native Americans tribes for a range of diseases. Licorice was used as a treatment for coughs as long ago as the third century BC. When the 3,000 year old tomb of King Tutankhamen of Egypt was opened, archeologists found quantities of licorice stored with fabulous jewelry and magnificent art works. Read more about medicinal uses.

July 14, 2017

Juncus torreyi

Torrey's Rush

Juncus torreyi
Rush Family (Juncaceae)

Found in wet areas, stream sides
Seen blooming on July 11, 2017 by the Rio Chama

The alien looking red flower on the right is actually the unusually large and pointed fruit of the flowers on the left. The flower head is about ½ inch across and like a starburst with a cluster of up to 100 flowers. It grows one to three feet tall with grass-like leaves. Most people have heard of rushes. Rushes are distinguished by their smooth, round, solid stems compared to the angular solid stems of sedges and hollow round grass stems. They grow in or near wetlands in most parts of the world and are often used in basketry and other local crafts. The Hopi use Torrey’s Rush in ceremonies associated with water.

July 7, 2017

Dalea candida var. oligophylla

White Prairie Clover
Prairie Clover

Dalea candida var. oligophylla
Pea Family (Fabaceae)

Found in dry, sandy areas
Seen blooming on July 2, 2017 in Red Wash Canyon

The White Prairie Clover grows to two feet tall with an airy, bushy shape and a tap root that can be five to six feet deep. Leaves are divided into tiny light green leaflets. Flowers grow in dense cylindrical spikes. The tiny flowers are white with long stamens and form a wreath around the spike which moves gradually upwards as the season progresses. The raw root is chewed for its pleasant sweet flavor. A tea-like beverage is made from the dried leaves. An infusion of the roots has been used as a hair wash to prevent the hair from falling out. Among the Ramah Navajo, it is used for stomachache and as a "life medicine", especially for fever. A compound decoction is used to treat "snake infection" in sheep.

June 30, 2017

Cylindropuntia imbricata

Tree Cholla
Candelabra Cactus
Cane Cholla
Walking Stick Cholla

Cylindropuntia imbricata
Cactus Family (Cactaceae)

Found in dry, disturbed, over-grazed areas, roadsides
Seen blooming on June 26, 2017 on US Hwy 84

The Tree Cholla is conspicuous because of its shrubby or even tree-like size, its silhouette, its big, bright flowers and its long-lasting yellowish fruits. It can grow to seven feet high and four feet wide with many spiny cylindrical branches. The magenta or purplish-pink flowers are up to 3" across. The fruit is yellow, knobbly, fleshy and edible. Old stems become hollow in the center, leaving an attractive latticed outer casing, and these dead stems are used to make decorative walking sticks and floral arrangements. The Roman Catholic Penitentes of New Mexico formerly tied fresh stems to their bare backs in Holy Week processions. The Zuni people use the Cholla ceremonially. The young stems and fruits were dried and eaten by Native Americans during the winter months whenever food was scarce. Read more.

June 23, 2017

Solanum elaeagnifolium

Silverleaf Nightshade
Silver Nightshade
Silverleaf Nettle
White Horsenettle

Solanum elaeagnifolium
Nightshade Family (Solanaceae)

Found in disturbed areas, roadsides
Seen blooming on June 19, 2017 on CR 155

The Nightshade family includes tomatoes, potatoes, tomatillos and eggplant, medicinal plants and spices. While some members of the family are edible others are highly toxic. Silverleaf Nightshade grows from 1 to 3 feet tall with stiff prickly hairs on the stem. Leaves have wavy edges and are hairy which gives them a grayish appearance. The flowers have five purplish petals united to form a star and five protruding yellow stamens. The plant produces a yellow tomato-like berry which is said to be poisonous. It is toxic to livestock and is considered a noxious weed in some states but not in New Mexico. The Pima Indians used the berries to curdle milk in making cheese, and the Kiowa used the seeds together with brain tissue to tan leather. Read more.

June 16, 2017

Dimorphocarpa wislizeni

Spectacle Pod
Tourist Plant

Dimorphocarpa wislizeni
Mustard Family (Brassicaceae)

Found in dry sandy areas, roadsides
Seen blooming on June 12, 2017 on CR 142

There are several white mustards occurring in our area. Mustards usually have clusters of tiny flowers with four petals. Many are considered weeds. This mustard grows to 2 feet high and is weedy-looking, with hairy, gray green stems and leaves.  It is easily identified by the spectacle-shaped seed pods. They also look like a tourist looking through binoculars giving it another common name. The Zuni people applied a warm infusion of the pulverized plant to swelling, especially the throat. A decoction of the entire plant was given for delirium. An infusion of the plant was taken by men to "loosen their tongues so they may talk like fools and drunken men." The flower and fruit was eaten as an emetic for stomachaches.

June 9, 2017

Tamarix chinensis

Five-stamen Tamarisk
Chinese Tamarisk

Tamarix chinensis
Tamarisk Family (Tamaricaceae)

Found on floodplains, riverbanks, ditches
Seen blooming on June 2, 2017 in Plaza Blanca

Tamarisk is a shrubby tree growing to 20 feet tall in dense stands with feathery branches and long clusters of tiny pink flowers. It escaped from cultivation and is very invasive, competing with native vegetation for water. It can grow in salty and alkaline soil and extracts salt from deep ground water and deposits it on the surface where it can be detrimental to other plants. It is found along the banks of the Rio Grande and Rio Chama. It is considered a troublesome weed by the New Mexico Department of Agriculture. Read more.

June 2, 2017

Fallugia paradoxa

Apache Plume

Fallugia paradoxa
Rose Family (Rosaceae)

Found on dry mesas, in washes and on exposed slopes
Seen blooming on May 29, 2017 in Red Wash Canyon

A native shrub growing to 6 feet tall and several feet wide with tangled, whitish twigs and small, deeply divided leaves. Flowers are rose-like with five white petals and are about one inch across. They produce plumes of feathery pink seeds which are said to resemble an Apache war bonnet. It is planted as an ornamental and for erosion control. It is an important forage plant for wild animals. Hopis steeped the leaves and applied the liquid as a rinse to promote hair growth. Roots dug in fall were boiled in water for coughs, spring twigs made into tea for indigestion and spring fever. Slender branches were used for sweeping, straight branches used for arrows.

May 26, 2017

Robinia neomexicana

New Mexico Locust
Uña de Gato

Robinia neomexicana
Pea Family (Fabacea)

Found in moist canyons and on wooded slopes
Seen blooming on May 22, 2017 at the Abiquiu Post Office

New Mexico Locust is a shrub that can grow to be a 20 foot tree with reddish brown branches. Leaves are divided into leaflets with a pair of sharp thorns at the base. Flowers are showy, pink to lavender and considered fragrant. The fruits are brown bean-like pods up to 4 inches long with bristles like those on the shoots. In New Mexico, Pueblo Native Americans traditionally ate the flowers uncooked. Mule deer, cattle, and goats browse the plant foliage. Squirrels and quail eat the locust's seeds. The Hopi Indians have used it as an emetic (to induce vomiting) and for treating rheumatism (arthritis). The bark, roots, and seed are said to be poisonous. 

May 19, 2017

Yucca baileyi

Navajo Yucca
Bailey’s Narrow Leaf Yucca
Alpine Yucca

Yucca baileyi
Asparagus Family (Asparagaceae)

Found in dry woodlands, openings
Seen blooming on May 15, 2017 in Poshuouinge, Santa Fe NF

This Yucca is an evergreen shrub growing as a rosette of narrow, sharp-pointed, yellowish-green leaves with fibrous edges. The flower stem grows two to three feet tall. The large, waxy flowers grow in a long, drooping cluster. Flowers can be eaten raw or cooked, and can also be dried, crushed and used as a flavoring. The flower stem can be peeled, cooked and used like asparagus. A fiber obtained from the leaves is used for making ropes, baskets and mats. The leaves themselves can be used as paint brushes, brooms or woven to make mats. The roots are rich in saponins and can be used as a soap substitute. The Navajo people make extensive use of the yucca to make a wide assortment of useful and ceremonial items. Read more about the Native American uses of the Yucca.

May 12, 2017

Astragalus praelongus

Stinking Milkvetch

Astragalus praelongus
Pea Family (Fabaceae)

Found in dry areas, openings
Seen blooming on May 8, 2017 at Ghost Ranch

Stinking Milkvetch grows to two feet tall, like a shrub, with reddish stems and green leaves divided into leaflets, typical of the pea family. Long-winged, creamy white, tubular flowers droop in thick clusters. Seed pods are plump and sharp-tipped. The plants absorb selenium which is stinky, hence the common name, but the plants I have encountered smelled like peas. Selenium can be absorbed to toxic levels which can poison livestock.

May 5, 2017

Physaria fendleri

Fendler's Bladderpod

Physaria fendleri (Lesquerella fendleri)
Mustard Family (Brassicaceae)

Found in hot, dry, sandy, gravelly areas
Seen blooming on May 1, 2017 in Plaza Blanca

Bladderpods are so called because of their inflated seed pods. We have several varieties growing in our area. They all have bright yellow flowers with four petals. They are small plants growing both erect and reclining on the ground. This one grows 2" to 10" erect or leaning with silvery leaves, forming dense mounds of flowers, often in colonies of many plants. Flowers are about ½" across, sometimes with an orange center. Seedpods are pea-sized and can get reddish with age. The species is best known as the richest source of bladderpod oil. The hydroxy acids contained in bladderpod oil are an important raw material used as a replacement for castor oil in the manufacture of resins, waxes, nylons, plastics, corrosion inhibitors, coatings, lubricating greases and cosmetics. The seed coat of the bladderpod also contains a natural gum which might be viable as a food additive similar to xanthan gum. The mash is high in protein, and has a similar proportion of various amino acids to the soybean. It may prove to be a good animal fodder.

April 28, 2017

Castilleja angustifolia

Desert Indian Paintbrush
Crimson Paintbrush
Northwestern Indian Paintbrush

Castilleja angustifolia
Broomrape Family (Orobanchaceae)

Found in hot, dry, sandy, gravelly areas
Seen blooming on April 25, 2017 in Red Wash Canyon

There are several species of Indian Paintbrush that grow in our area, this one is the earliest to bloom. It grows in clumps to one foot tall with velvety, purplish stems. What appears to be flowers, the paintbrush, are actually modified leaves, bracts. The flowers are a narrow, greenish-yellow tube protruding beyond the bracts. The flower heads are almost fluorescent. The Castilleja species is partially parasitic on the roots of other plants, especially sagebrush. Read more about the Legend and Uses of Indian Paintbrush.

April 21, 2017

Forestiera pubescens

New Mexico Privet
New Mexico Olive
Desert Olive
Spring Herald

Forestiera pubescens
Olive Family (Oleaceae)

Found in washes, along streams, and in open woodlands
Seen blooming on April 16, 2017 by the Rio Chama

New Mexico Privet is native and quite common in this area. It is a straggly, multi-stemmed, shrubby tree growing to 15ft tall with smooth, gray bark and lance-shaped, simple leaves. It can form thickets. Large shrubs were considered water indicators because wells dug where plants grew always produced water. The inconspicuous yellow flowers bloom before the leaves. Trees are either male or female, the flowers pictured here are female. The abundant berries are blue-black and are an important food source for wildlife. They are not toxic to humans in small quantities but not considered edible.

April 14, 2017

Astragalus lentiginosus

Specklepod Locoweed
Freckled Milkvetch
Speckled Milkvetch
Spotted Loco

Astragalus lentiginosus
Pea Family Fabaceae)

Found in sandy, gravely soil, roadsides
Seen blooming on April 10, 2017 in Red Wash Canyon

The Astragalus genus is very large and individual species are usually identified by their seed pod rather than their flower or leaves. Common names include Milkvetch and Locoweed. Many of them contain a toxin called swainsonine which makes animals that ingest the plants disoriented or “loco”. Swainsonine causes a wide variety of toxicological problems, including neurological, cardiovascular, and reproductive effects. This robust plant usually grows to 16" in a sprawling mass of arching, reddish stems and hairless, greyish-green leaves. This exceptional plant is about 3 feet across. Flowers are showy, bright pink/purple with a lighter center and over 1" long. Seed pods are plump, smooth and grooved and are often but not always spotted or freckled. It is a very variable species. The experts have identified 38+ varieties. Several varieties of Milkvetch grow in this area, Newberry’s Milkvetch and Missouri Milkvetch are also in bloom in Red Wash Canyon.

April 7, 2017

Erysimum capitatum

Sand-dune Wallflower
Western Wallflower

Erysimum capitatum
Mustard Family (Brassicaceae)

Found in sandy, dry soil and under junipers from the plains to alpine
Seen blooming on April 3, 2017 in Plaza Blanca

The Wallflower is a common and widespread species. It earned its common name by growing on stone walls in Europe. In Greek, Erysimum translates as “to help or save” in reference to the medicinal qualities of several species. Practitioners of European folk medicine have used wallflower poultices to relieve bronchial congestion and Native American Indians used dried leaves or seeds to make a tea for stomach cramps amongst other uses. Read more. Wallflowers are also important sources of food for wildlife, including the caterpillars of a number of butterfly and moth species. It grows from a few inches to 30" high with a dense cluster of flowers on an erect stem. Flowers are most typically bright golden yellow but plants in some populations may have tangerine-colored, pink or purple flowers. Each flower has four flat petals and is more than ½ inch across.

March 31, 2017

Taraxacum officinale

Common Dandelion

Taraxacum officinale
Sunflower Family (Asteraceae)

Found everywhere, at roadsides and in disturbed soil from sea-level to alpine peaks
Seen blooming on March 27, 2017 in my back yard

The first bloom I saw this year is generally considered a weed and a nuisance, especially in lawns, but it has culinary and medicinal uses. It grows from 2” to 16" tall with a single flower head on a milky, hollow stem and has sharply toothed basal leaves. The many toothed petals produce a sphere of silvery fluffy seeds. A single plant can produce more than 5,000 seeds a year.

All parts of the Dandelion are edible. Young leaves and buds can be used raw in salads or smoothies, or cooked and added to soups and stews. Georgia O’Keeffe combined them with mashed potatoes, here is the recipe. Older leaves become bitter. The roots can be also be eaten and used to make coffee, the flowers are used to make a delicate pale yellow wine. Dandelions has been used in herbal medicine to treat infections, bile and liver problems, as a diuretic, as a mild laxative, for increasing appetite, and improving digestion. The milky latex has been used as a mosquito repellent and as a folk remedy to treat warts. The flowers produce a yellow dye and the roots a magenta color.

If you want to identify a different flower then you might find it useful to check what was blooming this time last year. If you cannot identify a flower from the website send a photo and where you took it to Read How to Photograph Wildflowers for Identification for tips.

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