Ed and I hiked Marshall Gulch over a week ago. This week his brother, Bob, joined us, and we hiked it again. And what a treat it was! We were able to notice new flower species in bloom, such as Fendler hawkweed (Hieracium fendleri), and Rock jasmine (Androsace septentrionalis) a tiny white flower.


Rock jasmine – about 3 inches high








On the trail we met a young man with a serious back pack. He stopped to chat with us, but how he had time, I do not know, since, if I heard him correctly, he was hiking the Arizona Trail (about 800 miles long from Mexico to Utah), and had gone from the start of the trail at the Mexican Border, to the Catalina mountains in four or five days. That is a distance of about 185 miles. I confess to feeling a little nostalgic. The trail beckons to me, but I certainly could not stand his pace (about 40 miles a day.) Wow!

We were happy to show Bob the Spring coral root (Corallorhiza wisteriana). This time I was able to get a fairly good photograph. This is the earliest of the mountain orchids.

Corallrhiza wistereanaFL


Spring coral root with red stems and a white lip







I also saw the mostly bare branches of Poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), with last year’s fruit still on. I wonder why no one has eaten them. Hmm.
Poison ivyFR



Poison ivy fruit







On our little piece of land in Tucson we like to let nature do the planting. Most of the flowers and shrubs on the property just showed up on their own. They call them “volunteers”. This includes the Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa), a perennial shrub that has masses of beautiful yellow flowers. At the back of our property there is a fence, and over the fence a piece of land sloping down to the alley. Most years I ignore this, and it just becomes a wilderness of weeds. A few years ago I got the bright idea of planting Brittlebush in the alley. It can grow quite large, and effectively eliminates weeds. So I transplanted a few seedlings that had “volunteered” in the front of our house. They did not take. A year later I tried again. Again they did not take.
Encelia farinosaPL3





This year I adopted a new plan. They have just finished blooming, so  I harvested the seeds from the many brittlebush plants on the property. I put them in a plastic bag and waited for rain. The forecast said there was a 20%chance of rain today, so I cleared the slope, scattered the seeds and raked them in. We will see if any of them germinate. My wife thinks I may have overdone it this time. Who needs a million brittlebush plants in their back yard?

3 replies on “A MILLION PLANTS?”

  1. Barbara says:

    I enjoy your blog so much! Thank you.
    I appreciate your story about trying to plant the brittle bush from seeds you have harvested. I have a barren spot at my place that I’ve tried to plant with all sorts of native seeds for years with no luck. I think it’s all a matter finding the perfect combination of the right time, temperature, season, rainfall, and luck. It’s a spot I don’t intend to irrigate so it’s a little tricky. It’s turned into a fun learning experience; so far I’ve learned a lot about what won’t grow. I’m still trying, and having fun learning along the way.

    • Frank says:

      We have lived in this house for over 25 years. In that time many species have volunteered. Besides the brittlebush we have bahia absinthifolia (lots of it), verbesina enceloides, porophyllum gracile, lots of sphaeralcea, etc. I have tried buying native plants and planting them, with very little success. Thanks for your comment.

  2. Tryn Rose says:

    Coral root is one of my very favorites. When I lived in Colorado, I’d visit friends in Rollinsville, at about 9,000 feet, I believe. We’d walk in the woods year after year, and try to memorize the tree arrangements so we could re-visit a large coral root colony. It didn’t work; one might think the woods would be static, but no such luck. What a treat to discover that truth, though. Keep looking, keep moving, keep appreciating the world as a place of action.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *