Thursday, October 22, 2009

First Bloom

17. What spring wildflower is consistently among the first to bloom where you live?

Most people would probably say California poppy, because it is one of the showiest flowers in the Sonoran Desert. But the true answer is Comb Nut, a teeny tiny forget-me-not flower. Pectocarya is the Latin name for this group of annuals, which are only a few inches high, with flowers barely an eighth of an inch in diameter. When there has been a wet winter, the desert becomes carpeted with these plants. If the desert looks green, it is usually Pectocarya, not grasses, that are responsible. The common name is a translation of the Latin, referring to the tooted margins of the nutlets or seedpods.

California poppies actually peak about a month after Pectocarya are first out, anywhere between late February and mid-March, depending on the winter rains.

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