Yellopig Is Free

Or, Recreating A Life From Scratch

August Wildflowers

It’s another gray, rainy day, which gives me an excuse to wander the interwebs, checking on the names and habits of the little plants I found while wandering in the yard last month. OK, some are not so little.

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With the right kind of encouragement, this Whitethorn Acacia (Acacia constricta) could probably be convinced to be a real tree-like tree. At this time of year, they’re covered with little yellow flower balls.

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They’re a member of the pea family of plants (Fabaceae), and produce a narrow, reddish-brown pod-like fruit. And they really do have long white thorns that somehow don’t show up in these pictures. (Sneaky!) Before i noticed them in the yard (those spiny trees with tiny compound leaves all look alike, y’know), I used to see them around town and thought that if I didn’t have any, I should get some. I’m glad they’re here.

This next plant was a surprise, somehow. Maybe it’s the shape, or the color — it was just weirdly unexpected. This is Pima rhatany (Krameria grayi) or White rhatany.

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And look at how pretty the flowers are:

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See the spiky seed pods at the left of the picture. Those spikes are not as stiff as they look.

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I’m also seeing this called ‘Rose and Painter’. The references say that it’s partially parasitic on the roots of creosote bushes, but not in my yard. I was hoping I’d have creosote bushes, but I’ve searched every corner of my property and found not a one. In fact, I know of only two in my whole neighborhood — which is odd, since they’re quite common in this part of Arizona. And they smell so good! I’m going to have to go buy a few…

In any case, there is rhatany in my yard, creosote-less, but healthy enough all the same.

While the summer monsoon drags on (it runs to the end of September), I let the yard go a bit in terms of “weeds”, just trying to pull off seed tops when I find them, but leaving the rest go. No sense trying to keep up — while there’s free water falling right out of the sky, there will be new weeds. And there comes a point when the red-rock surface of the yard gets overwhelmed.

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I had trouble identifying this. That was my own fault, really, just a bit of a blind spot. Take a look at this close-up:

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This flower looks so much like the scarlet spiderling I saw in March — that sticky, annoying weed. But that weed has dark, wine-colored flowers that grope along the ground, while this is light pink and stands upright. Finally, it occurred to me to look around at other members of the Boerhavia genus, and I found this one: Erect spiderling (Boerhavia erecta). Of course! Still sticky, tho. Yuck!

This last one is also growing where it was not invited, but I can’t call it a “weed” because it’s much too nice for that.

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Guess what it is!

This was the hardest yet to identify, because this doesn’t look much like the ones in the reference pictures. It was so difficult that I eventually had to ask a human what it was! You have no idea how difficult it was for me to do that. Anyway, in the end, even they needed pictures of both the plant and the flowers — just one or the other picture wasn’t enough. Here are the flowers:

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It’s Eastern Mojave Buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum). Did you guess?

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