Ed and I were walking along the dirt road at the top of the Ski area in the Catalina Mountains. We found over 40 species of flowers in bloom, including a few mysteries. At the spot where we saw some unusual plants last year, we found a California poppy in bloom, and Bachelor’s button, plus a beautiful, tiny blue flower, at the top of about a four inch stem.
Our mystery blue flower
We had more or less ignored the Dock plants that covered large sections of the ground (Rumex species), thinking they were the usual Curly Dock (Rumex crispus) or Bitter Dock (Rumex obtusifolius), but then I stopped to look more closely. This was the rarer Pale Dock (Rumex altissimus). “Altissimus” means very high and we were about 9000 feet above sea level. We thought, too bad it is not in bloom. We sat down, the plants now higher than our heads. The flower stalks were a rusty red color. After a few minutes we decided to get out our trusty magnifying lenses, and soon found that the plants had flowers and fruit! These certainly qualified as “invisible” flowers, invisible to us until we took a closer look.
Pale dock with its red inflorescence
A closer look at part of the flower stalk showing male and female flowers and fruit
I think this is a female flower
And this seems to be a male flower
The beautiful red fruit
The next day Andrea in our group, came across an orchid that I had known existed on the mountain but had never seen. I just got this one photograph. It is called Slender-flowered malaxis (Malaxis abieticola). The plant itself is about six inches tall. Two days later Patrick and Tori looked for the orchid but it was gone, possibly eaten. I am glad I got at least one good picture.
The rare Slender-flowered malaxis