and descriptions of "volunteers" growing
my Little House in the Desert
californicum "celery weed"
This was a volunteer on newly purchased desert land growing in a partly
shaded area near my front door as well as in a heavily gravelled (grew
through the gravel) semi-paved area. Unsure what it was, I allowed
it to grow and develop and decided
that I liked its bright yellow tiny flowers beginning in late Winter and
early Spring. Fortunately for its species, the plant itself doesn't
care what I nor anybody else "calls" it as my later difficulties with a
dysfunctional "gardening" web site demonstrated. Given some ground
and some of its seeds carried into the area by wind or flood waters, it
Wikipedia describes Lomatium californicum as "a species of plant related
to the carrot and the parsnip which is known by the common names California
rock parsnip, celery weed, and California lomatium. It has blue-green
leaves which resemble those of celery in both appearance and taste, and
broad umbels of yellow flowers. Various parts of the plant have historically
had medicinal uses among Native American groups. This plant is native
to California and Oregon, where it is found in low elevation mountains
Its height and complexity of development does depend entirely on the growing
conditions that it finds. In windswept areas blasted by sand storms
it tends to remain quite small with often as few as a single flower stalk.
In areas with full sun throughout most of the long summer days it grows
to medium height, is encouraged by available ground moisture, and grows
so many individuals together in a single area that they almost appear to
be a single plant (but aren't). In an area protected from the winds
but with never any direct sunlight (shaded by my house's awning), one single
individual on my land grew to be quite large with a plethora of flower
stalks heading out in all directions. On the edge of a properly
Amended and enriched garden plot, several comparatively taller than normal
individuals with multiple flower stalks spaced themselves about 12 inches
apart but *in* the prepared garden plot of Amended and enriched ground
the numbers that grew there remained quite short and underdeveloped.
It was only near that edge of the prepared garden plot (within a couple
of feet of where they chose to grow) that I had ever made an attempt to
transplant two of them from another part of my land. Although that
transplant effort about 080312 didn't seem to be doing all that well (didn't
die but didn't develop further either), it apparently provided sufficient
for a much more significant growing effort in 2009 right near where
I originally wanted some of the celery weed to announce that "we live here".
The plant is extremely drought tolerant and suitable for xeriscaping.
Only a very few of them ever received any water from me in the midst of
the usual total aridity of the Mojave Desert and most of the areas where
they chose to grow received at most the occasional brief desert rain storms
and, of course, the temporary flooding of the land during the late Summer
early Fall monsoon season. The plant has to be recognized as a weed,
growing wherever it chooses to grow, and invasive, in whatever numbers
the plant itself chooses to generate. As shown in the photos related
to this discussion, the foliage is a blue-green color.
I alluded to the identification problems relating to this weed earlier.
I started my search for the proper name of what I already had in some numbers
on my land with a dysfunctional "gardening" site search engine. Plugged
in the descriptors of the plant that the search engine requested and was
shown hundreds upon hundreds of plant photos, virtually none of which even
remotely resembled my plants. There was, however, sufficient similarity
to plants of the genus Lomatium that I used that as a starting point for
the rest of my naming search. The photos available on the dysfunctional
"gardening" site under the Lomatium genus were too different from the structure
of the blooms on the actual plant that I had to dismiss them as inadequate.
So I went to the Google search engine, plugged in Lomatium, and was referred
to the CalPhotos.berkeley.edu web
site where I did a general search for Lomatium and found 376
of which this authenticated and authoritative photo of Lomatium
was a really good match to what the flowers and floral structure on my
actual plant looked like, as were several others of the photos on the base
page behind that enlargement. Confident that I had the proper identification
for the plant on my land, I submitted the first appearing photo above to
the dysfunctional "gardening" site to flesh out the "name only" line that
they included in their search engine. They subjected it to their
professed review process of several days and then accepted it for inclusion
on their site.
Getting that initial photo and the related information entered onto the
dysfunctional "gardening" web site was a bit of a chore all by itself.
On 080311, I attempted the "add a plant" function on the dysfunctional
"gardening" web site after completing my identification process for that
plant which grows in plethora on my land in the Mojave Desert. As
do so many web sites these days, the dysfunctional site refused to accept
any of my inputs for that "add a plant" function until I went over to my
separate physical machine on which I maintain the criminally abrogative
(of Article IV of the US Constitution Amendments) "Remote Control" infested
Xtra Problems slopperating system on 080312. As noted, the dysfunctional
"gardening" web site accepted my photos and description for inclusion soon
after. Discarded my notes on the tedious search process involved as
no longer relevant nor required and considered the matter closed.
Almost exactly a year later, I was forced to observe that I am of course
aware of the "naming rights claiming game" played by academicians and some
others. My lovely Larrea tridentata (creosote bushes) were once "thought
to be" merely a version of Larrea divercata, a species widespread in South
America, until botanists tediously demonstrated the substantial differences
between the species. Got a surprising notice from the dysfunctional
"gardening" web site 090306 in which they stated they had arbitrarily and
capriciously deleted my photos of Lomatium californicum, the first of which
had gone through their full review process when originally posted on 080312
(right at a year ago). Along with deleting my photos, they indicated
that they had taken belated "challenges" posted within the prior very few
days by unidentified naming rights playuhs, of which I was never notified,
as sufficient grounds for deleting the identification which I had so laboriously
obtained from legitimate sources in the area where the plants themselves
are located. The second photo at right, of a particularly clever
individual Lomatium californicum (which found the perfect place on my land
to grow very much larger than the vast majority of its peers) had been
accepted by their review process mere days before the alleged "challenges"
Lomatium californicum, having been accepted by me as a pretty plant despite
its invasive weed characteristics, has been going great on my land with
numerous of its pretty yellow tiny blooms throughout areas which, although
I never planted
myself, are entirely acceptable and delightful to me. It grows *here*
and I frankly didn't have the time nor the interest in redoing the original
search for purposes of academic game playing with fraudulent and totally
unidentified claimants, who likely have no specimens of the plant but are
only talking off the tops of their illiterate ignorant heads [redid it
anyway for purposes of this discussion on my own web site]. Nor do
I necessarily need to contribute my information to a pretended "gardening"
web site so arbitrary and capricious, so wound up in fraudulent "demographic"
surveys, and so aggressive at promoting thugocratic religion as that web
site demonstrated itself to be. Their behavior raised questions as
to whether other missing information there became missing for the same
kinds of game playuh supremacy and whether the inappropriate content with
which I have previously had to deal there relative to computing and a religion
holiday and abusive religion based "common names" for otherwise decent
plants are not an intrinsic defect of the site.
It is no coincidence that this Central Blogging Site was founded exactly
two days later so that my notes and ramblings and efforts on gardening
and other matters might survive without such arbitrary and capricious nonsenses,
I need to concentrate my attentions on things that matter rather than getting
involved with unidentified game playing frauds. Having been challenged
anonymously via a dysfunctional "gardening" web site on my identification
of plants that I like and of which I have a plethora on my land, I feel
the need to set forth the rules for challenging what I say here on my own
site. In the first place, you must email
to me directly
clearly identifying yourself and the basis of any authority you claim to
have. You must specifically provide the URL on an authoritative web
site which looks more like the photos of my real plants which I have included
in this writeup than does Lomatium
on the CalPhotos site. There are no dysfunctional "gardening" web
site slopperators here, engaging in criminally invasive activities against
paid members such as myself, to demand that I be polite to malicious game
playuhs insisting that my plants couldn't possibly be what authoritative
sources have indicated they are but "must be" something whose online photos
bear no relationship whatever to the real plants as did the "suggested"
identification made by the game playuh on the dysfunctional "gardening"
web site. In any event, I like my pretty yellow flowered plants and
am happy to have them growing here on my land in the desert.
cicutarium "Storksbill, red-stemmed Filaree"
The most numerous of the early plant appearances on the land around my
Little House in the Desert was a ground cover plant which I was able to
identify only later. It is considered an invasive weed but is at least
partly redeemed by the fact that it
produces attractive tiny purple flowers each morning for several hours.
As early as 080127 the not yet flowering plant was already starting to
grow in innumerable quantities as a ground cover on the majority of the
"vacant land" around my Little House in the Desert. By 080217, three
weeks later, some of the plants began to show the characteristic tiny purple
flowers including one growing just outside the eaves of the awning which
covers an area back from the street beyond my front porch. By 080303,
the tiny purple flowers on the ubiquitous ground cover plants were beginning
to approach a "purple carpet" boquet effect on the areas where they were
growing. The first photo at right was recorded of one of the red-stemmed
Filaree growing near the back door to my garage. The leftmost photo
below recorded 080411 is one of my favorite photos of the red-stemmed Filaree
because it clearly shows the "storksbill" shaped seed pods which develop
awhile after the tiny purple flowers have been appearing each day, along
with some of the distinctive flowers, along with enough information to
be able to identify the leaf structure of the plant. The photo below
on the right suggests the purple carpet effect for which I so greatly admire
it. Although the plant is ubiquitous in the Mojave Desert and some
other parts of the Great American Desert, it is virtually unknown elsewhere.
For all its invasive weed characteristics the red-stemmed Filaree doesn't
transplant at all well. I attempted to move two individuals from in front
of the back door of my garage (where they were getting in the way along
with predictably stomped on) out into my open front yard after I got effective
control of that area. The transplants died immediately although the plant
itself is a ferocious survivor and propagator everywhere else via the burstable
seed pods which look like storks' bills. I was particularly pleased
with them this Spring. Last Fall I had done some major structural
work around my land, building an underlayment of concrete block or brick
to keep the dratted rabbit predators away from my pretty flowers,
crops, and young apricot trees. Included in that underlayment was
a row of concrete block reinforcing against flood waters and rabbit invasions
alike in the back corner of my chain link fencing. The concrete block
there was filled with dirt to add weight and stability to it. Each
and every one of the open spaces in those dirt filled concrete blocks was
growing one or more Erodium cicutarium :). I may not have planned
it that way but it sure is pretty.
gilliesii "bird of paradise"
The morning after I signed the contract to buy my Little House in the Desert,
I absolutely had to go past it on my way out of town to make sure that
what I just agreed to spend a huge amount of money on really was as worthwhile
as I thought it was when I signed the contract. I hadn't taken any
photos previously during the original showing because the place was still
fully occupied. But I had my camera with me and did record some photos
during the morning after walk around the perimeter. One of the photos
that I recorded during that "morning after" walk around the Little House
was the one shown at below left of a lovely Bird of Paradise growing at
the corner of the property that I had just contracted to buy. It wasn't
there after I closed the transaction and owned the property, so I figured
that the previous owners had taken it with them. Not what happened.
It wasn't until months later that a neighbor brought my attention to what
did happen to that lovely Bird of Paradise plant. Instead of the
previous owners taking the plant with them when they moved out, some brutish
thugs had driven their ORVs intentionally over it. It was impossible
for it not to have been intentional. The beautiful plant was growing immediately
next to a tall telephone pole. Only by risking running into the telephone
pole could the brutish thugs get close enough to murder the lovely plant.
When a neighbor brought my attention to what had actually happened one
day while I was out working on the open front yard, there were mere *remains*
of the beautiful plant crushed into oblivion. Photos sent to a plant
expert, including the one at below right, indicated there was no chance
of recovering a living plant out of those crushed and brutalized remains.
very fortunate that the Bird of Paradise plant had long prior provided
for its own perpetuation in the same location. By 080527, I had a
new plant growing there where the deceased Bird of Paradise had been growing
before being murdered. I discovered and photographed it when I went
out to do some maintenance work (rebuilding parts that the ORVers had knocked
down) on the "rock garden" that I built to discourage the ORVers from trampling
through my open front yard and trashing my driveway. My first notion
was that somehow enough of the roots of the original plant made it through
that it was able to sprout an entire new plant in the same location.
As shown in the photo below at left it hadn't yet flowered but the leaf
structure was identical to what would be expected of a young Bird of Paradise
plant. In fact it was not long before the characteristic colorful
flowers began forming as shown in the photo below at right.
gone looking on the web about how to propagate Caesalpinia gilliesii commonly
known as Desert Bird of Paradise or Yellow Bird of Paradise a/k/a Poinciana
gilliesii or Erythrosternon gilliesii or Caesalpinia macrantha. It
was very disappointing reading because all of the sources seemed to be
saying that it had to be grown by splitting the rhizomes (bulbs) which
would have meant digging them up. That the plant grows only from
rhizomes would be consistent with the regenerated plant growing in the
identical area. I'm still too close to seeing my originally photographed
beautiful Bird of Paradise plant destroyed by malicious ORVers for me to
be eager to take the risk of disturbing the rhizomes.
I was horrified when I reread these notes to see that my only source for
believing that Bird of Paradise can be grown from seed was a dysfunctional
"gardening" web site. The munchiment of that site has engaged in
criminal theft of photos owned by me (larceny by bailee remains *criminal*
theft), invasive "surveying" to gather criminal purpose confidential financial
information, abusive promotion of dissemblers and malicious frauds and
assailants inflicting criminal religiosity in violation of their own TOS,
and other wrongs against this paid member of that site who stupidly sent
a renewal payment (unlike more than 98% of their claiimed membership who
never pay anything) just before they began their most egregious attacks
against me. Doesn't "necessarily" mean that the assertions of growability
from seed was false. But there are other things here in the desert
that *won't* readily grow from their own seeds, such as creosotes, except
under unusual conditions. So at this time I have to urge caution
for anyone who might otherwise spend the serious amounts of time, energy
and material that I did in the perhaps vain belief that the plants are
expected to be grown from seed and that it is an "easy" grow from seed.
The comparative scarcity of the plants here in the desert suggests it might
not be true. At the time of this writing 090331, there has been no
real world corroboration of the assertion of growability from seed.
Some general features from the dysfunctional "gardening" web site seen
080827: Height 6-8 feet (mine was about five feet tall), spacing
4-6 feet, Hardiness USDA Zones 8a through 11, requires full sun, Seed is
poisonous if ingested, Blooms repeatedly mid spring to early fall, Attractive
to bees, butterflies and/or birds (never saw any of those near my guy despite
numerous elsewhere on my land), Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping,
This plant is resistant to deer. According to the dysfunctional site,
Bird of Paradise is every bit as cool a plant and suitable for the environment
of my Little House in the Desert as it has proven to be pretty in its originally
discovered individual plant. What the site said about propagation
from seed was to direct sow outdoors in fall or direct sow after last frost
With my history of seeming to lose my one beautiful plant only to have
it recover in the same location, I was particularly anxious about seed
collecting (despite having read about splitting rhizomes). So when
I noticed seed pods formed on stalks which no longer had any blooms, I
brought one of them inside to see how it would dry separated from the plant.
It did, beautifully, as shown at the front of the photo below at right,
with four pretty little seeds resulting from the first pod that I brought
inside. So I went out and clipped a bunch more of the seed pods prior
to reading here about seed collecting. What it said was that I'm
supposed to "allow the pods to dry on plant; then break open to collect
seeds. Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds. Properly
cleaned, seed can be successfully stored."
my little plate of seed pods in a suitably dessicating location indoors.
In 2008 the existing plant did survive the ongoing barrage of ORVers through
the area, so I kept an eye on it to see whether any of the pods remaining
on the plant reached the suitable condition of dryness and perhaps collect
some more seed from them as a backup in case the seed pods already gathered
(maybe too green) didn't germinate. But I was quite enthused about
possibly being able to propagate Bird of Paradise over a considerable increase
in land area with a minimum of effort on my part. End note: the existing
Bird of Paradise which regenerated in the same location NEVER received
a drop of water from me. A single (severely damaging land trashing flood
inflicting) monsoon recently is all the water it had ever gotten during
On 081029 I noted that there have been major changes in structural elements
of my land in the past two weeks. Underlayment of my chain link fence
with pretty concrete brick (where the fence was far enough into the ground
to allow) or with ugly but useful concrete block (where there were gaps
under the fence big enough for rabbits to walk through) had progressed
with three sides of my property now suitably underlain. Sure to keep the
rabbits out and may help with flood control during the monsoon rains.
A concrete platform was laid in on each side of the street level entry
to my concrete driveway. Each of those platforms was stocked with
a supply of filled sand bags now available to form a "movable partition,
sand" across the driveway cut during probable future monsoon flooding times
so as to elevate the usual easy entry point for flood waters coming down
the asphalt street to the same level as the concrete curbing elsewhere
along the front of my property.
It was during construction of a suitably defended 1500 sq.ft. garden area
that I began formulating a location for use of my collected Bird of Paradise
seeds. My original rock garden at one end and zigzag brickwork at
the other followed by stakes and concrete block dissuaders of trespass
by thug ORVers trashing my driveway and that garden area with their oversized
tricycles had been replaced. What I created was a full encirclement
with four foot half inch rebar driven one foot into the ground on 21 inch
centers. That is reinforced against rabbits with three foot tall chicken
wire all around interleaved around the rebar staking. At the minimally
flood prone area on one end the chicken wire/stake fence is underlain on
the inside with brick to form a complete closure against rabbit invasion.
The other two sides (outside the chain link fence, inside the chicken wire
fence) have been underlain with concrete block filled with compacted dirt.
In the areas most prone to attack by flood waters jumping the curb or by
ORVers trashing through, the concrete block has been staked into the ground
with two foot rebar left high enough over the tops of the original tier
of block that I can easily slip a second layer of concrete block over it
and fill those block with dirt to form a double high defense wall, especially
against the flood waters where they jumped the curb during the last monsoon
flooding. On the inside of my chain link fence (outside of the garden area)
there is another set of underlayment with concrete block to defend against
rabbits getting into the garden from that side, and to provide a second
line of defense against flood waters getting at my gravel driveway which
was trashed the last time the monsoon floods hit. So the garden area
is defended on all four sides (incomplete only as to the gate area for
easy entry for me with gardening tools) with suitable rabbit and other
My original thought as I was getting the garden area defined was that there
might be a row of Bird of Paradise plants immediately on the outside of
the chain link fence inside the garden area. Key problem with that
is that properly grown BOPs wind up being six to eight feet tall and the
four foot limit on anything in the 25 foot wide zoning defined setback
could come into conflict with those plants. Not necessarily "would"
since plants are not "structures" and I haven't read the exact wording
of the ordinance but "why worry about it" if I were to find a better location
for my BOP row. Secondary influence on where the BOPs are to go is that
putting them in the defined garden area would use up space which otherwise
might be available for growing more economically, albeit less aesthetically,
valuable but in any event less tall edible plants. Tertiary influence on
where the BOPs are to go is that there is a nice area of my usual desert
dirt *inside* the chain link fence, further in from the garden area, which
is a minimum of five feet wide and very nearly the full length of the potential
BOP row *in* the garden area. So I wound up concluding that there really
was no need to create a "possible" conflict with zoning over the issue
of the height of the BOPs nor to face the potential unpleasant task of
having to keep the tops of my BOPs trimmed down to an unnaturally short
four foot height. Planting them six feet inward away from my original
thought of planting area would be a much improved solution, would still
provide me with a really nice BOP row better visible from my front porch
albeit less so from the street, and would increase the planting area available
for more economically valuable plant life in the defined garden area.
Decision made on where to prepare the planting row for my Bird of Paradise
seed collection. Three feet inward from the chain link fence, a bit
shorter of full length so as to maintain flexibility of movement for my
sometimes useful (whenever I go away from my land for more than a few hours)
chain link gate across the driveway which normally rests across the first
nine feet of that desert dirt area. Getting to be about the right time
of year here for Fall planting too so decision made in timely fashion.
On 081129 and 081130, I got busy carrying out my intentions for Bird of
Paradise Row :). Saturday's activities included preparing ten planting
holes with my cute and effective little Mantis tiller beginning 3 feet
beyond end of the southern driveway gate when open just inside my chain
link fence and spaced mostly 4 feet apart ending 3 feet prior to the south
chain link fence. I used two bags of Amend among them as part of
the backfill. Tamped and watered the filled planting holes.
Planted three dried Bird of Paradise seeds in a triangular pattern in from
the edges of each of the holes just a bit deeper than the length of one
of the seeds then covered over. I used the rest of the dug out original
dirt as filler for a nasty erosion channel between Cactus Row and the garage
at the back of my Little House in the Desert.
Sunday was cleanup day. I raked up the gravel and rock from the Bird
of Paradise planting area. Hauled it out front to fill the three block
wide by two block high flood water barrier to the south of the mail box
and to complete filling the two block wide by five block tall ride-by sandbag
slasher barrier. Took a load of the remaining color consistent gravel and
spread it along the increased height defense barrier from the front porch
out along the edge of the rain and sun protective roof pillars.
After the cleanup was complete on Sunday, I took a short walk out to where
the parent plant was recovering from its latest chop-down by street crews
(this time it wasn't the malicious thugs on their oversized tricycles deliberately
riding over the beautiful Bird of Paradise plant to destroy it, but legitimate
city employees carrying out orders to keep the streets clear of overhanging
plants). I thanked that courageous parent plant for its contribution
of all the nice seeds, gathered this past summer and carefully dried indoors
as shown in the earlier photograph, with which to plant my intended Bird
of Paradise Row. I was hopeful that I will get at least one new Bird
of Paradise plant in each of the ten planting holes but had a sense from
the parent plant that I might get all *three* of the planted seeds growing
in each of the prepared planting holes there :).
End Note 090331: It is not yet the
time of year when the parent plant showed significant rejuvenation during
2008 and it has not begun regrowing in 2009. So it may not "yet"
be indicative of failure that nothing has come up yet from the ten BOP
seed planting holes. But there was additional evidence all along
that Bird of Paradise may NOT be invasive in any regard that I didn't consider
until reviewing these notes. For all its prior year natural popping
of seed pods in its original location, there was one and only one original
Bird of Paradise plant. Every plant capable of generating new plants
from its own seeds grows in multiplicity throughout an area, as have all
of the other pretty desert weeds described in this blog. That the
BOP plant did not do so, along with the false and known fraudulent dysfunctional
"gardening" web site being the only source suggesting that the plant can
be easily grown from seed, is not an encouraging fact.
glabrata "desert dandelion"
Perhaps as many as half a dozen individuals of this species volunteered
to grow on my land during the late Spring and out into mid Summer of 2008.
Elsewhere in a 40 mile radius I found entire fields of them in plethora
near a dried up lake bed. I recall having seen something quite similar
along the roads in Death Valley National Park. The name identification
resulted from discussion circa 081208 on a generally dysfunctional "gardening"
web site but it was corroborated by the reliable CalPhotos.berkeley.edu
as shown in this photo of Malacothrix
that authoritative site. There are in fact more of them growing on
my land in 2009 than there were in 2008. The surrounding photos show
some of my "dandelions" which are quite a lot prettier (as is most everything
out in the desert) than the noxious weeds of "dandelion" name in lawns
elsewhere which propagate via converting their flowers into puffball seeds
to be blown everywhere by the slightest breezes. To this day, I still
haven't figured out how my pretty desert volunteer propagates so that perhaps
I can encourage a somewhat larger number of such individuals in the future,
but that will wait for another day.