Friday, March 31, 2017

Acanthus Family

There are four plants in the Acanthus Family in Sabino and all are blooming now.

Twin Seed (Dicliptera resupinata) Photo from 2012

All Photos by Marty Horowitz 3/22/2017
White Needle-Flower (Justicia longii)

Carlowrightia (Carlowrightia arizonica)

Desert Honeysuckle (Anisacanthus thurberi)

Thursday, March 30, 2017

3 birds and a rerun

All Photos by Marty Horowitz, March 2017

And this March 2015 bird story with text from Mark Hengesbaugh and photos by Bob Wenrick (both of whom are also beardless).

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Now for some bloomin' peas

Photo by Marty Horowitz 3/20/2017
Coursetia (Coursetia glandulosa) aka Baby Bonnets

Photo by Marty Horowitz 3/15/2017
Dalea (Dalea pringlei)

Photo by Marty Horowitz 3/15/2017
Marina (Marina parryi) and note the fruits of Desert Lupine (Lupinus sparsiflorus) in the background on the upper left. Yes, they're pods : -) 

Photo by Marty Horowitz 3/15/2017
Elegant Lupine (Lupinus concinnus)

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Hawk on the rocks

Photo by Marty Horowitz 3/20/2017

Red-tailed Hawk, looking regal on the rocks

Monday, March 27, 2017


Ephedra trifurca or Mexican Tea is dioecious; there are separate male and female plants. How cool is that? The male produces the pollen (in this case, in a cone); the female puts all her eggs in a cone-like basket : - ) Click the link for more photos. Yes, one could make tea from this plant, but the word is that it's not very tasty. Even if you like tea.

Photos by Marty Horowitz 3/15/2017

Male plant

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Don't pick the flowers!!

Alas, copious evidence in Sabino of picked (and abandoned) flowers leads me to post this again. From 2012.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Fred finds Four O'clock Family flowers

Photos and text by Fred Heath, on or shortly before 3/13/2017

The other day while walking on the tram road in Sabino above Tram Stop #1, I noticed a white flower which looked both familiar and different at the same time. I was fairly certain it was in the Four O’Clock Family (Nyctaginaceae) and was leaning towards something like a Wishbone Bush, a Four O’Clock which has white flowers, when I noticed another plant next to the first which was clearly a Trailing Four O’Clock or Windmills (Allionia incarnata). Problem solved: it was an unusual white flowered Trailing Four O’Clock. Brian Gersten pointed out that he had noticed and photographed a similar white flowered specimen a couple of years before in the same area.

Today I went back in the area and found several white flowered plants spread over several yards of roadside.

The Allionia flower is unique in another way. Although I vaguely remembered (many of my botanic recollections are vague), Debbie Bird reminded me that what appears to be a single flower on the Allionia is actually 3 separate flowers growing together. Each flower has a single white pistil (hard to pick out on the white-flowered flower) and five yellow stamens.

Today Debbie also pointed out a Trailing Four O’Clock with much smaller flowers (1/4” across instead of 1” for the more typical plants in Sabino). At first I was dubious, thinking (or not) that it was just a plant with stunted flowers from lack of water. However after looking a little more closely at the plant and with Debbie showing me that there is a small variety called A. incarnata var. incarnata as opposed to the typical sized A. incarnata var. villosa I had to agree. I took a photo of this plant, so everyone could appreciate the wonder of this variety (not to mention the botanic knowledge of Debbie).

Thanks Fred (and Debbie) for more great finds!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Sneezin' for a reason

Photo by Marty Horowitz 3/15/2017

Yes, Canyon Ragweed (Ambrosia ambrosioides) is in bloom! Note lots of yellow dots on the male flowers. Lots. That's the pollen. Plants produce much more pollen than is actually necessary to join with the eggs (ovules, in plants; but let's not get bogged down in terminology). And pollen is generally what people are allergic to. This plant is no exception!
Note the lime-green burr-like flowers below the mini-sunflower-like male flowers. Those are the female flowers. Far fewer in number. And, of course, they don't produce pollen.
More photos here and at the link above.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Ever closer to the Cedar Waxwings...

Marty gets close to the flock! All photos by Marty Horowitz 3/15/2017

Cedar Waxwings are so smooth, they look air-brushed. (Feathers - not just for dinosaurs!) They'll be flying to a nice country in the north for the summer. No problems anticipated at the border.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Bloomin' Saguaro!

Photos by Marty Horowitz 3/15/2017

Always a thrill to see saguaros in bloom!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

More fun with fruit

From 2013

Monday, March 20, 2017

Fun with Filaree Fruits

Rerun from 2014

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The eyes have it!

Photo by Marty Horowitz 3/6/2017

Imagine you are a predator and a Common Buckeye appears in your path. You might think that multiple eyes means you are dealing with multiple organisms and steer clear! Common Buckeyes with spots that look the most like eyes would survive to reproduce and the "eyes" would spread through the population. That's how it works.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Blue and Ragged

These flowers don't have the nicest common names, in my opinion, but they sure are beautiful!

Photo by Marty Horowitz 3/8/2017

These Blue Dicks (Dichelostemma capitatum ssp. pauciflorum) look like they are part of this prickly pear, but they are actually entirely separate plants. In the Asparagus family.

Photo by Marty Horowitz 3/1/2017

Ragged Rock Flower (Crossosoma bigelovii) likes the rocky hillsides.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Final Three

The final three posts from the Pea family tutorial.

Hooray for Peas!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Some Trees are Peas

Four more posts in the Pea family tutorial (originally from 2016)

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Mind your peas!

The Pea (Fabaceae) family is a large one (not as large as the Sunflower family), but we can still get a handle on the Pea family plants in Sabino Canyon by reviewing this handy tutorial. (There's no quiz at the end of this one, either.) We'll review over three days.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Sunflower family

The Sunflower (Asteraceae) family is a large one, with many sub-divisions and groupings. (That's why I don't have a tutorial on it. Rather, I suggest that you first learn the simpler families and come back to sunflowers later or by the process of elimination.) But one thing you can say with confidence is this: if the fruit looks like a dandelion fruit (a puffy ball that you can blow away), then you are looking at a Sunflower family plant. 

All photos by Marty Horowitz 3/6/2017

Why does the fruit look like a dandelion puff, you ask? This photo of Desert Chicory (Rafinesquia neomexicana) clearly shows that each petal is actually an individual flower. (Note the reproductive parts at the base of each petal.) (The Sunflower family is also known as the Composite family, because what looks like one flower is actually composed of many flowers.)

Click on this photo to see a larger view of petals and reproductive parts. Each one of these flowers can be pollinated and thus can develop its own seed.

Silverpuffs (Uropappus lindleyi) have the same kind of structure. Click on this photo to see that there are reproductive parts at the base of each petal (which - like those of Desert Chicory - is actually composed of 5 fused petals).

To see a great example of the Silverpuffs fruit, take a look at this post from 2014.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Saguaro story

All photos by Julie Miller 3/2/2017

Julie wonders why this saguaro has three stems (or three trunks, if you prefer). We'd need to do some genetic testing to confirm, but I can think of a few possibilities.

One possibility is that this is actually three plants growing closely together. We'd be able to tell for sure if we compared the DNA from the three stems.
I doubt we'd get permission to do that, however : -)

Looking at the base, it could be that this saguaro was damaged early on in its growth. It's possibly that the growing tip was cut, but that enough of the growing-tip cells remained in three areas and continued to grow. (There are multiple stems on other saguaros damaged by humans in Sabino Canyon.)

The third possibility may have occurred early in this saguaro's life cycle as well.  The cells at the tip may have undergone abnormal division, resulting in three separate growing tips. 

If you have other hypotheses about this saguaro, please send them my way. Only science can reveal which hypothesis is the correct one. In any case, this is another great saguaro.  

Thanks, Julie, for this great question!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Rainbow, too!

On the same fine day that Marty photographed the dawn's early rainbow, he captured the afternoon's lower 'bow. Let's hear it for visible light and H2O!

Photos by Marty Horowitz 2/19/2017

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Now for some flowers!

Photo by Marty Horowitz 3/6/2017
Desert Lupine (Lupinus sparsiflorus)

Photo by Marty Horowitz 3/7/2017
Yellow Desert Primrose (Oenothera primiveris)

Photo by Marty Horowitz 3/7/2017
Parry's Penstemon (Penstemon parryi)

Friday, March 10, 2017

They're back!

Text and photo from Fred Heath, 2/25/2017

Photo by Fred Heath 2/25/2017
They’re back! The Orobanche cooperi (Broomrape), that is. I’ve been checking various spots along the main tram road where we’ve seen them in the past and finally I found this little group poking through the ground, probably from a single plant.
Many of the plants along the road were buried when the Forest Service decided to blade the road edge last year. I’m hoping that a good percentage will return despite that.
The particular plant in the photo was the first one originally found by Mary Klinkel two years ago when these plants first reappeared after many years absence. There is a Fairy Duster which almost reaches the pavement on the left side of the road going down Deadman’s Hill. Up on a small ledge behind this is a Brittlebush (the most likely host plant) and to the right of the Brittlebush is the Orobanche. If last year is any guide, we should find a bunch more of these plants along the road in the next few weeks. 

Anne says: Marty photographed this one on 3/8/2017

Photo by Marty Horowitz 3/8/2017

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Now for some butterflies!

All photos copyright Bill Kaufman 3/1/2017

Sleepy Orange on Fairy Duster (Calliandra eriophylla)

Sara Orangetip (male) on Canyon Ragweed (Ambrosia ambrosioides)

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Peregrine rerun

A full crop from 2011

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Quiz 2 Answers

Quiz 2 Answers

Monday, March 6, 2017

Quiz 2

One more Borage vs. Mustard quiz!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Dam Mallards

All photos (c) Marty Horowitz 2/24/2017

Honk if you're a mallard!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

The early bird...

...catches the rainbow.

All photos by Marty Horowitz, sunrise 2/19/2017.