Flowers at the top

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.


Red FuzzLooking down on the Red Fuzz Saxifrage plants

Saxifraga eriophoraFL2A close-up with my thumb giving scale

Saxifraga eriophora 5Another 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).

Vinca majorPeriwinkle (Vinca Major) already in bloom

Valeriana arizonicaMy watercolor painting of Valerian

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.

Rafinesquia newomexicana FLtop Chicory flower

Calycoseris wrightii FLTackstem flower

Rafinesquia neomexicana base of FLChicory at the base of the flower

Calycoseris wrightii tacks2Base of the Tackstem showing the glands

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.

9 replies on “Flowers at the top”

  1. DR says:

    Mr. Rose,

    I saw a copy of your fabulous “Flowering Plants of the Santa Catalina Mountains” poster hanging at Catalina State Park.

    I am a Park Ranger specializing in Environmental Education at Oracle State Park, and would love to have a copy to use here at the park as an educational reference for the staff, volunteers, and public.

    Is the poster available, and if so, how can I order one?

    Many thanks!

    • Frank Rose says:

      I would be happy to give you a poster. My supply is down to just a few, and I am very happy to have them used in the way you mentioned. How can I get it to you?

      • DR says:

        THANK YOU so much! It will be wonderful to have such a great reference and teaching tool.
        The poster could be mailed to:
        Oracle State Park
        Center for Environmental Education
        PO Box 700
        Oracle AZ 85623
        ATTN: DR
        If you include your return address, we’d be happy to reimburse you for postage. Thank you again for your generous contribution!

  2. Margaret Livingston says:

    Dear Mr. Rose,
    I have your poster in my office and use it often for educational purposes. My husband teaches in a different department and would like to have one of your posters, if still available. I noticed the email thread above, and would be willing to do the same (pay postage, and I am more than happy to pay for the poster), or I can possibly pick it up. Thanks, Margaret

    • Frank Rose says:

      Thanks Margaret
      Perhaps the best thing is to phone me at 520-721-1091. I have very few posters left, and this would be going to a good cause. Frank

  3. Ann E says:

    It is now 2018 and I saw your poster out of the Catalina State Park. It’s solve some problems for us and identifying plants. I am just an aficionado but Wondered if there were any posters left anywhere that I might be able to purchase.

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