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

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July 21, 2017

Glycyrrhiza lepidota

Wild Licorice
American Licorice
Amolillo

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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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June 23, 2017

Solanum elaeagnifolium

Silverleaf Nightshade
Silver Nightshade
Trompillo
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.

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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.

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June 9, 2017

Tamarix chinensis

Saltcedar
Tamarisk
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.

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June 2, 2017

Fallugia paradoxa

Apache Plume
Ponil

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.

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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.  Read more about the New Mexico Locust. 

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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.

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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.

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May 5, 2017

Physaria fendleri

Fendler's Bladderpod
Lesquerella
Yellowtop

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 1/2" 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.

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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.

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April 21, 2017

Forestiera pubescens

New Mexico Privet
New Mexico Olive
Desert Olive
Stretchberry
Elbowbush
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.

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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.

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April 7, 2017

Erysimum capitatum

Wallflower
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.

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March 31, 2017

Taraxacum officinale

Common Dandelion
Dandelion
Blowball

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.

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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 contact@rockymountainsflora.com. Read How to Photograph Wildflowers for Identification for tips.

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