Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Paleface or Rock Hibiscus

The paleface or rock hibiscus (Hibiscus denudatus)
is one of my new favorite flowers. I saw it on May 29, 2010 on my fifth visit out to the Hayfield Road exit off the I-10 in the Colorado Deseret in the south part of Joshua Tree National Park. This was a trip I was experiencing some disappointment over as most of the beautiful spring flowers I had been seeing on my previous visits were gone. I saw one single, solitary flower,
on the side of a hill in an otherwise barren bush.
It was as pretty, or moreso, than any other flowers I've seen.
This flower was not listed on the on-line flower list I saw for Joshua Tree National Park
and so discovering it caught me by surprise.
The rock hibiscus is found only in the four southern counties of California (San Bernardino, Riverside, San Diego and Imperial), Clark County, Nevada, southern Arizona, southern New Mexico, west Texas and northern Mexico. The flower has five pale white (thus the name paleface)
to pale lavender or light pink petals, each with purple at the base.
The petals can be rice paper thin, sometimes nearly translucent. 
It can bloom starting in January to the end of late summer/fall in October, depending on seasonal temperatures. The form of the plant is somewhat straggly with vertical branches reaching one to three feet. The leaves are small, up to 1-1/2 inch
and about the same in width and are finely toothed and a medium yellow green with a hairy surface.  
Now that I know the vicinity of this plant, I'll have to check it out again and see if it blooms any later in the year.

I visited the area I found the paleface in several more times and was unable to find the plant. In April 2011, while visiting the Hayfield Road area again, I followed the edge of the Eagle Mountains from the road up a short distance and hiked up a little side canyon a short ways. While in the side canyon I found another paleface plant, again with only one solitary flower blooming.

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