Mention of our mid-June desert road trip on Instagram this morning has compelled me to share a little nugget of knowledge that I gleaned on the trip.
The plant in this photo is Ephedra (I don’t know which species as there are several), commonly known as Mormon tea. Those of you who are not from the Southwest may look at this photo of a leafless, brittle shrub and see a broom plant (Genista), which is how I identified it on first sight on a morning hike through Joshua Tree park until our guide, JayBe corrected me.
They were so much more than I imagined they would be. Bigger. More imposing. Majestic. Awesome.
Day three of our desert road trip, we decided to “take it easy” with a short jaunt to the Yucca Valley and up hill to Pioneertown, which is at a higher elevation and promised to deliver slightly cooler temperatures.
I did not like the drive up into the mountains and so it was difficult at first to appreciate the views. What goes up must come down and I spent much of the drive nervously anticipating a horrible drop-off around each bend. Fortunately, that did not happen and the scariest part of the ride was when I yelled at Davin to do a u-turn so we could hit up a big yard sale that I spotted too late.
There’s something about perusing a yard sale with massive Joshua trees (Yucaa brevifolia) and dry, desert mountain-scapes as the backdrop.
I saw a lot of amazing plants on the desert trip, some with fascinating stories and critical ethnobotanic ties to the region. Yet, with so many to choose from and so many photographs far better than these, even I find it a little bit odd that I chose to begin with one so tiny and insignificant.
I suppose my affection for this plant has something to do with how I found it.
I have long sung the praises of the perpetual aka perennial onion. Allow a few to multiply each year and you will have them forever.
I started growing one such type, ‘Egyptian Walking’ onion (Allium proliferum) aka tree onion in my community garden plot well over a decade ago. The exact date is a lost memory to me now as is how I came by it in the first place, but I suspect that I may have been growing from the same stock for approaching 18 years. In that time I have passed on countless full-sized onions and bulbils (the small bulbs that form at the top of mature plants) to friends and neighbours without making the slightest dent in my own yearly harvest.