It was cold and blustery today. Ed and I tried hiking high in the mountains but it was too cold for comfort. As we drove down to a lower (and therefore warmer) place, we noticed a Cliff rose (Purshia stansburiana) blooming along the side of the road. We parked and went to get a closer look. That is when we noticed this Silverleaf oak (Quercus hypoleucoides). The male catkins on Oak trees are yellowish brown, and usually not particularly visible. This tree was festooned with them.
The brown spots on this Silverleaf oak consist of clusters of pollen-bearing catkins
A close up look at the Silverleaf oak catkins
In a fairly short walk in Molino Basin we saw about three dozen flowering plants. We were particularly interested in a little succulent known as Graptopetalum (Graptopetalum rusbyi). It has been very dry, and we wondered if it would be in bloom. When we arrived at the stream bed where we have seen them before we noticed that there seemed to be fewer plants than usual, and the leaves were shriveled up. But the blooms were perfect, such a treat to see.
Three Graptopetalum flowers on one plant in the cleft of a rock
Close up of a single flower (the flowers are about one half inch wide)
For years I have been wanting to see the Ironwood tree (Olneya tesota) in bloom. It normally grows in lower elevations than Tucson since it is highly susceptible to cold. Recently I was told of a group of four trees less than a mile from our home. Today I walked there, and found all of the trees in full and glorious bloom. This remarkable tree has some of the heaviest wood known. The flowers look something like sweet peas, white tinged with pink. I was delighted to get pictures at last.
A large Ironwood tree in full bloom
A cluster of Ironwood flowers
An individual flower