The Living Desert
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Nature Trail

Nature Trail

The Living Desert is more than a collection of exhibits. It is also a nature preserve. In fact, 1080 of our 1200 acres are undisturbed Sonoran Desert. Within this preserve is a series of nature trails. From The Living Desert, a hiker can select one of three trails to suit their desired experience of the real undisturbed desert. The inner loop is a brief ¼ mile interlude, the outer loop rambles for a mile through desert wash habitat and across a rocky bajada while the wilderness loop offers an adventurous 3 ½ mile hike up or down a boulder strewn canyon and along a rocky ridgeline with far reaching vistas.

This plant list has been compiled from observations over nearly 60 years and only includes species that are native or that have become naturalized along the trail system. Currently this list contains over 160 species of which 16 (10%) are introduced – 9 of them are grasses. Out of the 152 known natives, 55 (36%) are perennial and 97 (64%) are annual or biennial.

Thirty-six families are represented, the largest of which is the Aster Family (Asteraceae) with 23 species. Cactus usually associated with desert, is ranked number 10 with only 6 species. Twelve families are represented by only one individual species.

The first plant list done on the grounds of The Living Desert was compiled in March of 1954 by Dr. E.C. Jaeger; legendary botanist, writer, naturalist, educator and artist deemed Dean of the American Desert. Dr. Jaeger toured the property again soon after The Living Desert’s opening helping to augment the fledgling organization’s plant knowledge.

For uniformity, taxonomy follows The Jepson Manual – Vascular Plants of California, 2nd Edition (2012). “Old Name” column lists the name or change from the original list based on Munz (1974) A Flora of Southern California. Many of the common names are derived from Desert Wildflowers by Dr. Jaeger.

Botanical Name Common Name Old Name
Cheilanthes parryi Parry’s Lip Fern Notholaena parryi
Ephedra aspera Mormon Tea
Acanthaceae – Acanthus Family
Justicia californica Chuparosa
Amaranthaceae – Amaranth Family
Amaranthus fimbriatus Fringed Amaranth
Tidestromia suffruticosa var. oblongifolia Honey Sweet Tidestromia oblongifolia
Apocynaceae – Dogbane Family Asclepiadaceae
Asclepias albicans Whitestem Milkweed, Coach Whip Milkweed
Asclepias subulata Desert Milkweed, Rush Milkweed
Funastrum hirtellum Rambling Milkweed Sarcostemma hirtellum
Calycoseris parryi Yellow tackstem
Lofgia arizonica Arizona cottonrose
Lofgia depressa Dwarf cottonrose
Oncosiphon piluliferum* Globe chamomile
Asteraceae – Sunflower Family
Ambrosia acanthicarpa Annual Bur-ragweed
Ambrosia dumosa Burrobush, White Bursage
Ambrosia salsola Cheesebush Hymenoclea salsola
Bebbia juncea var. aspera Sweetbush new var. designation
Chaenactis carphoclinia var. carphoclinia Pebble Pincushion new var. designation
Chaenactis fremontii Fremont Pincushion
Conyza canadensis Horse Weed
Dicoria canescens Bug Seed, Desert Dicoria
Encelia farinosa Brittlebush
Geraea canescens Desert Sunflower
Laennecia coulteri Coulter’s Horseweed Conyza coulteri
Malacothrix glabrata Desert Dandelion
Monoptilon bellioides Desert Star
Palafoxia arida var. arida (syn. Palafoxia linearis) Spanish Needle Palafoxia linearis
Pectis papposa var. papposa Cinch Weed new var. designation
Perityle emoryi Rock Daisy
Peucephyllum schottii Pygmy Cedar
Pleurocoronis pluriseta Arrowleaf
Psathyrotes ramosissima Desert Velvet
Pseudognaphalium stramineum Cudweed Gnaphalium chilense
Rafinesquia neomexicana Desert Chicory
Stephanomeria pauciflora Desert Straw
Tragopogon dubius Western Salsify
Trichoptilium incisum Yellow Head
Bignoniaceae – Bignonia Family
Chilopsis linearis Desert Willow new ssp designation
Boraginaceae – Borage Family
Amsinckia intermedia Fiddleneck
Amsinckia tessellata var. tessellata Checker Fiddleneck new var. designation
Cryptantha angustifolia Narrow Leaved Forget-me-not
Cryptantha barbigera Bearded Forget-me-not
Cryptantha decipiens Gravel Forget-me-not
Cryptantha intermedia var. intermedia White Forget-me-not new var. designation
Cryptantha maritima White Haired Forget-me-not
Cryptantha micrantha Purple Rooted Forget-me-not
Cryptantha nevadensis var. nevadensis Neveda Forget-me-not new var. designation
Cryptantha pterocarya var. pterocarya Wing Nut Forget-me-not new var. designation
Cryptantha racemosa Woody Forget-me-not
Cryptantha utahensis Utah Forget-me-not
Emmenanthe penduliflora var. penduliflora Whispering Bells Hydrophyllaceae; new var. desig.
Heliotropium curassavicum var. oculatum Salt Heliotrope
Nama demissum var. demissum Purple Mat Hydrophyllaceae; new var. desig.
Pectocarya heterocarpa Chuckwalla Comb Bur
Pectocarya linearis Slender Comb Bur
Pectocarya recurvata Arched-Nutted Comb Bur
Phacelia campanularia ssp. campanularia Canterbury Bells Hydrophyllaceae
Phacelia crenulata var. minutiflora Notch-Leaved Phacelia Hydrophyllaceae; new var. desig.
Phacelia distans Wild heliotrope Hydrophyllaceae
Phacelia fremontii Fremont Phacelia Hydrophyllaceae
Tiquilia plicata Fanleaf Crinklemat, Plicate Coldenia Coldenia plicata
Brassicaceae – Mustard Family
Brassica tournefortii Sahara Mustard
Caulanthus cooperi Cooper Caulanthus
Caulanthus hallii Hall Caulanthus
Caulanthus lasiophyllus Hairy-leaved Mustard Thelypodium lasiophyllum
Descurainia pinnata ssp. glabra Tansy Mustard new ssp. designation
Dithyrea californica Spectacle Pod
Draba cuneifolia var. integrifolia Wedge-leaved Draba new var. designation
Lepidium lasiocarpum ssp. lasiocarpum Sand Peppergrass new ssp. designation
Raphanus sativus Wild Radish
Sisymbrium irio London Rocket
Sisymbrium orientale Oriental Rocket
Streptanthella longirostris Long-beaked Twist Flower
Cactaceae – Cactus Family
Cylindropuntia echinocarpa Silver Cholla Opuntia echinocarpa
Cylindropuntia ramosissima Diamond Cholla, Darning Needle Cholla Opuntia ramosissima
Echinocereus engelmannii Calico Hedgehog Cactus
Ferocactus cylindraceus California Barrel Cactus, Compass Barrel Ferocactus acanthodes
Mammillaria tetrancistra Corkseed Cactus
Opuntia basilaris Beavertail Cactus
Nemacladus ramosissimus var. gracilis Slender Threadplant
Nemacladus tenuis v. tenuis Desert nemacladus
Crassulaceae Crassula connata Sand pygmyweed
Caryophyllaceae – Pink Family
Achyronychia cooperi Frost Mat
Chenopodiaceae – Goosefoot Family
Chenopodium murale Nettle-leaved Goosefoot
Salsola tragus Russian Thistle Salsola iberica
Cucurbitaceae – Gourd Family
Brandegea bigelovii Brandegea, Desert Star Vine
Cucurbita palmata Coyote Melon
Euphorbiaceae – Spurge Family
Chamaesyce maculata Spotted Spurge Euphorbia supina
Chamaesyce polycarpa Sand Mat Euphorbia polycarpa
Croton californicus Desert Croton Croton californicus mohavensis
Ditaxis lanceolata Lance-leaved Silverbush
Ditaxis neomexicana New Mexico Silverbush
Ditaxis serrata var. californica California Silverbush Ditaxis californica
Euphorbia eriantha Desert Poinsetta
Fabaceae – Pea Family
Acmispon rigidus Desert Rock Pea Lotus rigidus
Acmispon strigosus Hairy Lotus Lotus tomentellus
Astragalus sp. Locoweed
Dalea mollis Silk Dalea
Hoffmannseggia microphylla Little Leaf Rush Pea
Lupinus arizonicus Arizona Lupine
Lupinus concinnus
Bajada lupine
Melilotus indicus Sweet Clover
Parkinsonia florida Blue Palo Verde Cercidium floridum
Prosopis glandulosa var. glandulosa Texas Honey Mesquite
Psorothamnus emoryii Dyeweed Dalea emoryi
Psorothamnus schottii Indigo Bush Dalea schottii
Psorothamnus spinosus Smoke Tree Dalea spinosa
Senegalia greggii (syn. Acacia greggii) Cat’s Claw Acacia Acacia greggii
Fouquieria splendens ssp. splendens Ocotillo
Erodium cicutarium Filaree, Heron’s Bill
Erodium texanum Desert Heron’s Bill
Krameriaceae – Krameria Family
Krameria bicolor White Ratany Krameria grayi
Krameria erecta Little-leaved Ratany Krameria parvifolia
Lamiaceae – Sage Family
Hyptis emoryi Desert Lavender
Salvia columbariae Chia
Loasaceae – Stick-Leaf Family
Mentzelia affinis Yellow Comet
Mentzelia albicaulis Blazing Star
Mentzelia involucrata Sand Blazing Star
Petalonyx thurberi ssp. thurberi Sandpaper Plant new ssp. designation
Malvaceae – Mallow Family
Eremalche exilis Dune Mallow
Eremalche rotundifolia Desert Five-spot
Hibiscus denudatus Rock hibiscus
Sphaeralcea ambigua ssp. ambigua Apricot Mallow, Globe Mallow
Sphaeralcea ambigua ssp. rosacea Rose Mallow
Montiaceae – Montia Family Portulacaceae
Calyptridium monandrum Sand Cress
Nyctaginaceae – Four-O’Clock Family
Abronia villosa Sand Verbena
Allionia incarnata var. villosa Trailing Windmills new var. designation
Boerhavia coccinea West Indian Boerhaavia Boerhaavia coccinea
Boerhavia triquetra var. intermedia Five-Winged Ring-Stem Boerhaavia erecta intermedia
Mirabilis laevis (syn. Mirabilis bigelovii) Wishbone Bush Mirabilis bigelovii
Mirabilis tenuiloba White Four-o’Clock
Onagraceae – Evening Primrose Family
Camissoniopsis pallida ssp. hallii Hall Primrose Camissonia pallida hallii
Chylismia cardiophylla ssp. cardiophylla Heart-leaved Primrose Camissonai cardiophylla
Chylismia claviformis ssp. aurantiaca Brown-eyed Primrose Camissonia claviformis aurantiaca
Eremothera boothii ssp. condensata Woody Bottle Washer Camissonia boothii condensata
Eremothera chamaenerioides Long-capsuled Primrose Camissonia chamaenerioides
Eulobus californica California Evening Primrose Camissonia californica
Orobanchaceae – Broom-Rape Family
Orobanche cooperi Broomrape
Papaveraceae – Poppy Family
Eschscholzia parishii Desert gold poppy
Argemone munita Prickly Poppy
Eschscholzia minutiflora Little Gold Poppy
Plantaginaceae – Plantain Family
Mohavea confertiflora Ghost Flower Scrophulariaceae
Antirrhinum filipes
Twining snapdragon
Plantago ovata var. fastigiata Woolly Plantain Plantago insularis
Polemoniaceae – Phlox Family
Aliciella latifolia ssp. latifolia Broad-leaved gilia Gilia latifolia
Eriastrum densifolium Giant Wooly Star
Eriastrum eremicum ssp. eremicum Desert Wooly Star new ssp. designation
Langloisia setosissima ssp. setsissima Bristly Langloisia new ssp. designation
Linanthus bigelovii Evening Snow
Loeseliastrum schottii Desert Calico Langloisia schottii
Saltugilia australis Southern Gilia Gilia australis
Chorizanthe brevicornu var. brevicornu Brittle Spine Flower new var. designation
Chorizanthe rigida Rigid Spiny Herb
Eriogonum deflexum var. deflexum Skeleton Weed new var. designation
Eriogonum fasciculatum var. poliofolium California Desert Buckwheat
Eriogonum inflatum Desert Trumpet, Wild Buckwheat
Eriogonum reniforme Kidney leaf buckwheat
Eriogonum thomasii Thomas Buckwheat
Eriogonum trichopes Little Trumpet
Delphinium parishii Parish’s Larkspur
Solanaceae – Nightshade Family
Datura discolor Small Datura
Datura wrightii Jimsonweed Datura meteloides
Nicotiana clevelandii Cleveland’s Tobacco
Nicotiana glauca Tree Tobacco
Nicotiana obtusifolia Desert Tobacco Nicotiana trigonophylla
Physalis acutifolia Ground Cherry, Tomatillo
Physalis crassifolia Thick-leaved Ground Cherry
Solanum nodiflorum Glossy Nightshade
Tamaricaceae – Tamarisk Family
Tamarix ramosissima Salt Cedar, Tamarisk
Viscaceae – Mistletoe Family
Phoradendron californicum Desert Mistletoe
Zygophyllaceae – Caltrop Family
Fagonia laevis Smooth-Stemmed Fagonia
Larrea tridentata Creosote Bush
Aristida adscensionis Sixweeks Three Awn Grass
Aristida purpurea Purple Three Awn Grass
Aristida purpurea var. parishii Parish Three Awn Grass Aristida parishii
Avena sativa Oat
Bouteloua aristidoides var. aristidoides Needle Grama new var. designation
Bouteloua barbata var. barbata Six-Weeks Grama new var. designation
Bromus madritensis ssp. rubens Red Cheat Bromus rubens
Cynodon dactylon Bermuda Grass
Eragrostis curvula Weeping Lovegrass
Festuca arundinaceus Alta Fescue
Hilaria rigida Big Galleta
Hordeum murinum ssp. glaucum Barley Hordeum glaucum
Hordeum murinum ssp. leporinum Foxtail Barley Hordeum leporinum
Pennisetum setaceum Fountain Grass
Polypogon monospeliensis Rabbitfoot Grass
Schismus barbatus Abu-mashi
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