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The Desert Flora of our 5-day Backpack
Tonto Vegetation
We saw so many neat and interesting desert plants on our 5-day backpack, and took so many interesting pictures of them. It would have been a bit overwhelming to put all of these pictures into the main trip narrative, so here is this page with all of our 'plant' pictures, including some details on what the plant is. As you'll see, there is a good sampling of flowers, cactus, and trees.

Most of the pictures were taken along the Tonto Platform, but a few at the beginning and end are from higher up in the canyon.
Agave Utahensis
Common Name: Utah Agave
Agaves are succulent rosettes. They have a sharp spine at the end of strong, stiff leaves. Would be very painful if you fell on to it! Each rosette blooms after many years. The blooming rosette uses all its energy to produce the giant towering bloom, and seeds. When it has finished blooming, the rosette dries out.
An Agave Plant
Agave Plant
Flowering Agave
Agave plant and boulder
Encilia farinosa
Common Name: Brittlebush
Member of the sunflower family. Live on dry slopes and desert washes of the southwest. Grows 2 to 5 feet high in a rounded bush, They have long silvery-gray leaves. Bright yellow flowers bloom March to June.
Hiking through Nature's Garden
Cercocarpus intricatus
Common Name: Mountain Mahogany
Member of the rose family. Has deep green, 1-inch long curled leaves. Branches are densely, intricately interlaced and the shrub grows to 5 or 6 feet wide and tall. Blooming starts off as red buds in March, becoming small yellow flowers in April. Also known as 'Ironwood' because its wood is quite dense and does not float in water.
Mountain Mahogany
Castilleja angustifolia
Common Name: Desert Indian Paintbrush
A Gray-green perrenial. The flowers, which bloom from April to August, are brilliant fingers of red, standing out in the dry desert scenery in which it grows.
courtesy CDoucet
Desert Indian Paintbrush
Indian Paintbrush
Cottonwood and Indian Paintbrush
Genus Opuntia, Family Cactaceae
Common Name: Prickly Pear Cactus
A desert plant that has flat, fleshy pads. The pads have large spins growing from them. Prickly Pear Cactus also have clusters of tiny fine barbed spines that are above the regular spines, difficult to spot, and detach very easily. They are difficult to remove once lodged in skin! (see photos!).

There are also spineless versions, such as the Beavertail Prickly Pear (see bottom picture, left), which have only the tiny fine barbed spines and lack the large, main spines.
Prickly Pear Cactus
Prickly Pear Cactus
Prickly Pear Cactus
courtesy BConnell
Little gifts
Beavertail Prickly Pear
Penstemon Utahensis
Common Name: Utah Penstemon
A member of the Snapdragon family. This flower has stalks that come out from a rosette of leaves and which bear tubular flowers that look somewhat like trumpets.
Utah Pentsemon
Ephedra Viridis
Common Name: Mormon Tea
This medium-sized shrub grows up to 4 feet high and appears to have no leaves. It looks like a thicket of numerous green, jointed, leafless branches with conspicuous nodes.
courtesy BConnell
Mormon Tea
Budding Mormon Tea
Lathyrus palustris
Common Name: Marsh Pea
A perennial of damp or marshy areas, with purplish flowers. In the case of the Grand Canyon, found in areas with continual moisture (e.g. near a spring, etc).
courtesy CDoucet
Marsh Pea
Yucca angustissima
Common Name: Narrowleaf Yucca
A rosette of foot-long, composed of narrow, sword-like leaves. Blooms by pushing up a five-foot flower stalk in early spring, which then bears a cluster of pale flowers.
courtesy CDoucet
courtesy CDoucet
Narrowleaf Yucca
Yucca blooming
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