Springtime in the Great Basin Desert!
Whether it is intense heat in the summer or frigid cold during the winter, Nature in the desert is always being challenged to adapt to harsh conditions. These challenges, when nature must adapt to survive, present fascinating photo opportunities and are the reason that I am so drawn to the desert.
At rare times, Nature's tenacity is revealed when conditions come together at just the right time. The barren desert thrives and becomes a showcase of nature's bounty. Such were the conditions during the past winter of 2013 when areas within the Great Basin Desert received adequate moisture from rain or snow.
To the northwest of Walker Lake lies a sandy flat area facing east that is protected to the west by the Wassuk Range. Within this area of approximately one mile radius (1.609344 km) the desert was in bloom with a number of wildflowers and shrubs.
What first caught my eye were the patches of Desert Plume accenting the landscape and standing tall over the yellow blanket of Desert Dandelions.
The Desert Plume, Stanleya pinnata or Golden Prince's Plume can grow up to 5 feet tall (153 cm) in the alkaline soil. The slender wands of yellow hairy flowers attract bees and other pollen gathers.
Brilliant Desert Dandelions were growing in batches through out the region.
One of the plants edible by humans and often the first wildflower to bloom, Desert Dandelions provide vital nourishment for bees coming through the winter.
My timing for these wildflower photos was right on since the Spiny Hop Sage Grayia spinosa was in bloom throughout the desert.
The small shrub of Spiny Hop Sage only shows its colorful fruit for a short duration in spring and then turns into a woody gray thicket when the climate dries and begins to warm.
Even the Burrobush Hymenoclea salsola or Cheesebush was showcasing its tiny white flowers. Its common name Cheesebush is due to the pungent odor when the leaves are crushed.
The broom like shrub of Mormon Tea was just beginning to show buds. Mormon Tea gets its name from the early Mormon settlers who brewed a tea from the stems and leaves. The tea was also used by Native Americans for stomach disorders and made into poultices for burns or sores on the skin.
Many of the wildflower seeds are annuals or ephemerals like the Desert pincushion. Their seeds lay dormant waiting for just the right amount of moisture and sunlight. At which time they will spring to life thriving only for a short period to be pollinated by bees, butterflies and hummingbirds before the climate becomes too hot or dry.
Unlike annuals that last only for a season desert plants that are considered perennials, as with the Tufted Evening-primrose will re-bloom and come out of dormancy only when adequate water becomes available.
A variety of other flowers and shrubs were just beginning to bloom. It will be interesting to return in a few days and after the latest rains to see what else is there, waiting for my camera.
No images on this blog are within Public Domain.
With my Nikon and tripod, my goal is to recreate the scene as it appears in nature, to preserve in a photographic image the awesome, yet simplistic beauty of the scene that waits around a bend or over a hill. Sometimes it's a colorful landscape, and many times I'm allowed in the presence of the numerous creatures that adapt to life in the wild.
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