Sunday, June 6, 2010

Virgin River Brittlebush

Virgin River brittlebush,
also known as Virgin River encelia and encelia (Encelia virginensis)
is a shrub in the daisy family. It has many branches
with the younger parts hairy and the older stems developing a thickened, fissured, bark.
The gray-green foliage, fuzzy and hairy, can be sparse. Atop the hairy stems are solitary flower heads with 11 to 21 yellow rays and a yellow disk.
It is found in extreme southwestern Utah, where the Virgin River is found, extreme southwestern New Mexico, large parts of Arizona, southeastern Nevada and Southern California. I found this one plant in a wash on the way to Carey's Castle in the south portion of Joshua Tree National Park in the Eagle Mountains.
To me the flower seems like it is halfway between brittlebush (Encilia farinosa), which has large yellow rays around a yellow disk (the brittlebush below was found in the same area),
and button brittlebush (Encelia frutescens) which has no rays, but a spiky button (the button brittlebush below, was also found in the same area).
The Virgin River brittlebush has a more spiky disk than the brittlebush, like the button brittlebush, but significantly smaller rays.

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