California Native Plant Society

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Flora of the Northern Mojave Desert

By Stephen Ingram, Nature Photography

The northern Mojave Desert, which includes eastern Inyo County and small northern portions of San Bernardino and Kern counties, is inhabited by approximately 1300 vascular plant species from at least 93 families. More than 30 taxa are endemic to this area. This vast region, much of which is part of Death Valley National Park (DVNP), encompasses numerous plant habitats, ranging from alkali playas and sand dunes below sea level, up to the subalpine habitats of 11,049 foot Telescope Peak in the Panamint Mountains. Other important plant habitats include alluvial fans, limestone ridges and canyons, springs and seeps, upland vegetation dominated by shrubs common in the Great Basin, and pinyon-juniper woodlands. 

The species shown below represent a small but noteworthy example of the diversity and endemism of the Northern Mojave Flora. These species include shrubs, perennials and annuals, neo-endemics and relict endemics. They include those that are common and widespread, and those that are rare with very narrow distributions.

Enceliopsis covillei (Asteraceae) Panamint daisy. Endemic to the west side of the Panamint Range, on hillsides and canyons with gypsum soils. This huge, amazing daisy is the logo for the California Native Plant Society. Photographed in Wildrose Canyon, DVNP. 
CNPS List 1B.

Phacelia nashiana (Hydrophyllaceae) Charlotte's phacelia. This showy species is endemic to the northwestern Mojave in Mojave mixed scrub and Joshua tree woodlands on granitic soils. Also occurs on the east slope of the Tehachapi Mountains. Photographed in Short Canyon, Eastern Sierra, southern Inyo Co. 
CNPS List 1B.

Salvia funerea (Lamiaceae) Death Valley sage. Endemic to Northern Mojave, in dry washes and canyons. This unique, attractive shrub is locally common in lower canyons surrounding Death Valley. Photographed at the mouth of Echo Canyon, DVNP. 
CNPS List 4.

Calochortus kennedyi (Liliaceae) Desert mariposa. This colorful species is fairly common in creosote-bush scrub and higher into pinyon-juniper woodland. Occurs throughout the Mojave into NV and AZ. The yellow-flowered variety (C. kennedyi var. munzii) is less common. Photographed in Joshua Flats, Inyo Mountains.

Oenothera californica ssp. eurekensis (Onagraceae) Eureka Dunes evening-primrose. This beautiful, fragrant species is endemic to the sand dunes of Eureka Valley. Photographed on lower part of Eureka Dunes, DVNP. 
CNPS List 1B, CA Rare, 
US endangered.

Swallenia alexandrae (Poaceae) Eureka Valley dune grass. Endemic to sand dunes in Eureka Valley. This monotypic species is a relict endemic whose closest relatives are Old World genera, but Swallenia's taxonomic position is currently being investigated with partial funding from the Bristlecone Chapter. Photographed at Eureka Dunes, DVNP. 
CNPS List 1B, CA Rare, 
US endangered.

Dedeckera eurekensis (Polygonaceae) July gold. Endemic to limestone areas in Panamint, Last Chance and White-Inyo Ranges. First discovered by Mary DeDecker (in what is now known as Dedeckera Canyon) in 1975 and named for her. Photographed on slope of Dedeckera Canyon above Eureka Valley, DVNP.
CNPS List 1B, CA Rare.

Maurandya petrophila (Scrophulariaceae) Rocklady. Endemic to the Grapevine Mountains, on limestone walls, known so far only from Fall and Titus Canyons. This rare species is a treasure to see in flower. Photographed on limestone wall of Titus Canyon, DVNP. CNPS List 1B, CA Rare.

Mimulus rupicola (Scrophulariaceae) Death Valley monkeyflower. Endemic to the Northen Mojave, on limestone cliffs and outcrops. One of Mary DeDecker's favorite species, and featured on the cover of the first edition of Flora of the Northern Mojave Desert, California. Photographed on limestone wall of Echo Canyon, DVNP. 
CNPS List 4.

Penstemon fruticiformis var. fruticiformis (Scrophulariaceae) Desert mountain penstemon. Occurs in canyons and washes of the southern Eastern Sierra and desert mountains. The uncommon P. fruticiformis var. amargosae occurs in the Kingston Mountains and in western NV. Photographed on floor of Dedecker Canyon above Eureka Valley, DVNP.

About the Photographer

STEPHEN INGRAM came to photography with a background in botany. He received an M.S. degree in Botany from U.C.S.B. and became more seriously interested in photography while working in Costa Rica and at Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, Florida, where he was the herbarium manager.

His photos have been published in several books, calendars, field guides, as notecards, and in magazines such as The American Gardener, Backpacker, The Nature Conservancy, Nature's Best, Outdoor California, Sierra, Sierra Heritage, and others.

Stephen Ingram currently serves as President of the Bristlecone Chapter of the California Native Plant Society. Stephen can be reached through Stephen Ingram Nature Photography.

Photos and text © 2002 Stephen Ingram. All rights reserved.



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