Flora / Fauna, Death Valley National Park
This lizard is called a "chuckwalla". He was big! At least 20 inches! And he looked mean.
Later on I found out he's a harmless herbivore.
We saw him sun bathing on this stone during a short hike around Scotty's Castle.
Favorite thing: This a Cuscuta, a parasit plant that sucks another plant. It has no leaves, no roots, no chlorophylle, only long stems with sucking devices at the end. It hugs the plant it has chosen, introduce its sucking devices in its stems and sucks the sap of its host. BTW, Cuscuta grow everywhere in the world and you might find one close to home.
Favorite thing: Who has thrown out of his car a packet of nylon orange threads near Mesquite Junction ? It is illegal, especially in a National park and that is worth a heavy fine ! We should collect it and throw it into a garbage bin ! Waite a minute, this is not a refuse but a parasit plant !!
Favorite thing: At Furnace creek, this plant, that looks almost like a Daisy, a Desert Daisy, is called Tidy tip (Layia glandulosa) and is a close relative to the daisy. It succeed in growing among stones, which our temperate climate Daisies would be unable to do !
Favorite thing: It is called the Desert velvet (Psathyrotes ramosissima). The stems are very short and on this picture, you can see the leaves as this small hairy features and one flower which is sprouting out of the protection. It is going to waste a lot of water, but it is to allow reproduction !
Favorite thing: This picture, taken at Furnace creek, shows something that looks almost like a stone but if you take a closer look, you will discover that the "stone" has small flowers and that it is a plant that it has adapted to the dry environment and to lessen its evaporation, has taken this shape.
Favorite thing: Amazingly, the flowers of the prickly poppy look almost like the flowers of the prickly cactus, with a great many stamen. In the desert, plants have a hard time giving seeds and they have better spread a lot of pollen !
Favorite thing: Here it is, at a short distance from the first one. But, hey, it is not smoth as the previous one ! It is mimicking a cactus and indeed it is called the Prickly poppy (Argemone corymbosa). This one you have better not to fondle !
Favorite thing: I took the photo of this delicate poppy in Titus canyon. It is called Bear poppy (Arctomecon Meriami). Its leaves look like the fur of a bear and you feel like to fondle them. The flowers were not fully open and I looked for another one.
Favorite thing: If you take an even closer look, the flowers of the Desert mallow are superb, very delicate and it is amazing that such delicate flowers grow on a half dry shrub in such a harsh environment. Actually, many desert flowers are very delicate and fragile, making a strong contrast with their environment.
Favorite thing: From a certain distance, it looks at any other uninteresting brownish reddish shrub. However, if you take a closer look, you will discover the Desert mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) with many small red flowers.
Favorite thing: Barrel cactus (Echinocactus acanthoides) is another kind of cactus. They are not "aggressive" as the Teddy Bear cactus and they are sometimes grown as indoor plants. Again, you will be either very lucky or a good gardener if you happen to get its flowers.
Favorite thing: Actually, the Jumping Cholla does not jump but it has so many long and soft (soft and prickling all together !) spines that though you feel you are enough away, YOU catch it. If you take care, you will be able to admire it's beautiful yellow flowers.
Favorite thing: However, at home, Beavertail cactus seldom gives flowers. Only the wise indoor gardeners get them. They are splendid bright red and in the wild, in the Death Valley, in April, all plants had flowers. Nature is more clever than man !
Favorite thing: Teddy Bear cactus ( Opuntia Bigelovii ) is also called Jumping Cholla. You will very fast understand why the name of Jumping Cholla . As soon as you look at it, there is one that catches you ! No wonder that it is not a popular indoor plant !