In the Sonoran desert many plants are too demure to be noticed until springtime when they break out colorful blossoms in exquisite forms. Its all about reproduction of course, a showy performance designed to attract pollinators. Most field guides to desert plants use pictures of the flowers to identify the species, so I’ve been taking note while the blooms are on.
Besides the globe mallow, the plants pictured here are new to me. Sure, I’ve walked by them for years, but now that I can name them, I see these plants differently. I look forward to watching these new-found friends progress from bloom to seed. I’m interested to see who pollinates these hardy natives and what insects can be found on their stems. I’m watching to see if birds come to eat their seeds.
Desert Trumpet is the name of a street near me. Paging through my field guide to identify the tiny cream colored flowers appearing on the long stalks, I find its name: desert trumpet! This is one of fifty three species of Eriogonum that grows in Arizona. Little wasps from the genus Onyerus drill holes in the hollow stems of desert trumpet and pack in miniature pebbles and captured insect larvae. The wasps then lay their eggs inside the stems. When the baby wasps hatch, they find themselves in a cozy nest well stocked with food.
(Click on the individual pictures to enlarge.)