February 13th was a beautiful day on the mountains. Dave and I went looking for some Iris plants I saw last year to see if there might be signs of them this early. Nothing. But then, on the west end of the Butterfly trail, the delightful Red Fuzz Saxifrage plants (Saxifraga eriophora) were starting up. With their mixture of red and green leaves, red flower stalk, and white or pink flowers, they are quite a sight. Some years I have even seen them poking through the snow. I went there again today and caught a picture of a flower cluster, glistening from the recent rain. It was a cool day on the mountain (38 degrees), and the flowers looked like they were doing fine.
Another close-up wet with recent rain
We also saw Periwinkle and Dandelion at 8000 feet. The beautiful Valerian (used as a medicinal plant for sleep problems) has buds and soon will be in bloom (Valeriana arizonica).
Jim and I were driving along on our way home from botanizing in the desert. Out of the clear blue sky I asked him to tell me about Tackstem (Calycoseris wrightii). He wondered why I asked the question, and I explained that my chief Botanical advisor on the Flower book, Joan, had come to the conclusion that Tackstem does not occur on the Catalina mountains, and is fairly rare in this part of Arizona. If we see a white flower like this in the Catalina Mountains it is almost certainly Desert Chicory (Rafinesquia neomexicana). He agreed, and said that sometimes, depending on weather conditions, etc, Tackstem may be found along some road sides. The flowers of the two are nearly identical, but the Tackstem has little tack-shaped glands growing along the stem, and base of the flowers.
A few minutes later I noticed some white flowers out of the corner of my eye and I suggested we stop and have a look. When we got out of the car and walked back to the flowers, we found that they were Tackstems! This is the first time I had ever met and photographed the plant.
Every time we go out, we see more flowers in bloom. On a recent hike I counted over 60 different flowering species. What a treat.