flowers

The Monsoon Spawned Two New Flowering Plants In My Yard – Sida and Capitellata

The rains of the summer monsoon have given rise to some exotic flowering plants in my yard. My wife calls them weeds. Recently, I noticed two flowering plants by the pool that I had not seen in my yard before. I sent photographs to botanist Mark Fleming at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum who identified them for me.

The first is Sida abutifolia. Common names include Spreading Sida, Prostrate Mallow, and Spreading Fanpetal.

 

Sida is a tropical plant whose range now includes southern Arizona and New Mexico, most of Texas, and southernmost Florida.

Sida is classified as an herb that grows up to one foot high and has ground-hugging stems that have small spikes. The leaves are about one inch long and the yellow flowers are about 3/4 inch in diameter. See a more scientific description and more photos from SEINet.

This plant has what I regard as strange behavior. Most of the time the flowers are closed. They all open together around 2pm and close again after two hours. This behavior has been repeated for about two weeks so far. It would seem that this limits the opportunity for pollenation.

In Mexico, Sida was used medicinally to treat boils and kidney problems (Source).

 

The second plant is Euphorbia capitellata aka Chamaesyce capitellata, a member of the Spurge Family. It has a lovely common name: head sandmat. Other names include capitate sandmat and head spurge.

The white flowers are less than 1/4 inch in diameter when open. The flowers look pointed before they open fully. The leaves are about one inch long. See a more scientific description and more photos from SEINet.

Capitellata is a small perennial plant with a woody base from which the herbaceous stems regrow year after year. It has a milky sap that can be a skin or eye irritant.

Capitellata is native to Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and northern Mexico.

See also:

A London Rocket in my yard 

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Spectacular flowers of the Red Torch Cactus

The Red torch cactus (variously Echinopsis huascha or Trichocereus huascha) is native to northern Argentina. Many cultivars (hybrids) exist and are found in gardens elsewhere. You can see one variety at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in the plaza by the Art Gallery. That is where I took the photos in this article.

Torch1

The red torch cactus resembles our native hedge-hog cactus. The red torch grows one to three feet high and it branches spread up to three feet. It is a heat-loving cactus.

Torch2

Flowers, two to four inches across bloom in the spring. The flowers are nocturnally blooming and exist for only about 18 hours, similar to saguaro flowers. Flower color ranges from deep red to orange and yellow depending on the cultivar.

This cactus can be asexually propagated by removal and rooting of stems segments. Allow stem segments to callus for several weeks before directly sticking into the soil according to Arizona State University.

Torch3

The Tucson Cactus and Succulent Society has advice on growing these cacti (and some great photos) here. They claim that “The best cultivars will bloom massively every 10 days to two weeks over a span of three months.”

There is another Torch Cactus, Echinopsis peruviana or Peruvian Torch, which grows at high elevations in the Andes of Peru. This torch is as big as a saguaro cactus and has white flowers.

This cactus contains the psychoactive alkaloid mescaline as well as other alkaloids, a property which has been exploited for thousands of years.

The Peruvian torch cactus is relatively fast growing and can also be propagated from cuttings.

If you want to know when the torch cacti are next in bloom so you can take photos, follow the ASDM facebook page.

See also:

A Desert Christmas cactus

Agave, a plant of many uses

Arizona Passion Flower

Brittlebush and chewing gum

Can You Get Potable Water From a Cactus?

Chiltepin peppers, spice and medicine

Creosote Bush, a Desert Survivor

Data presentation in Santa Catalina Mountains plant study misleading

Desert Tobacco, a pretty but poisonous desert plant

https://wryheat.wordpress.com//2009/08/01/edible-desert-plants-barrel-cactus-fruit/ Desert Ironwood with video

https://wryheat.wordpress.com//2011/04/04/jojoba-oil-good-on-the-outside-bad-on-the-inside/ Edible Desert Plants – Barrel Cactus Fruit

Jojoba oil, good on the outside, bad on the inside

Joshua Trees of the Mohave Desert

Limberbush or blood of the dragon

Mesquite Trees Provide Food and a Pharmacy

More on Mesquite

Oak trees of the Sonoran Desert Region

Ocotillos and the Boojum

Palo Verde Trees Will Turn the Desert Golden

Saguaro Cactus Icon of the Sonoran Desert

The Old Man and the Totem Pole

Tucson invaded by popcorn flowers

Yuccas provide food, fiber, and soap