The Desert Flora of our 5-day Backpack
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.