Sunday, June 14, 2020

Smoke Tree

Yesterday I visited Corn Springs in the Chuckwalla Mountains (8 miles off I-10 down a dirt road in the Colorado Desert) and stumbled into a smoke tree (Psorothamnus spinosus) bloom. I've seen individual blooming smoke trees before, but yesterday the large wash near the palm tree oasis was full of smoke trees in various stages of blooming. There were easily 20 bushes or more spread out through the wash. The smoke tree is a plant in the legume family. Many of the plants in the genus Psorothamnus are known as indigo bushes, because of their dark blue flowers, or as daleas, because the genus was once included in the genus dalea.  The smoke tree is also known as the smoketree, smokethorn, smokethorn dalea and I've blogged on it previously as the indigo bush.
Smoke trees in the foreground. Their normal gray/brown appearance is shaded with blue. 
This one has enough flowers to radiate the purple/blue color. 
I like some of my photos that show it with a blurry background. 
This photo illustrates the inconsistent concentration of flowers on the same bush. 
A large concentration of blooms on an outward edge and another blooming bush in the background. The thick pointy branches stick out. 
It is thorny and thickly branched and one of the ugliest of the desert bushes, a combination of ugly gray and dead-looking brown, a bush on its last legs, a 49er in Death Valley, a victim of the harsh desert. It would get my nomination for the iconic desert bush, ugly as dirt most of the year and dangerously beautiful when in bloom. 
A close-up of the beautiful flowers.
Some violet/purple flowers.
I like the straight and diagonal lines in this photo, interspersed with buds and flowers. 
A thick concentration of flowers.
The flowers, which bloom in June and July, emerge from light green/yellow pods with orange glands on them. The flowers are small and pea-like and are dark blue to violet (I saw one bush with violet yesterday). 
Flowers emerging from greenish buds with orange glands. 
Multiple buds, some just cracking open. 
The branch structure, including thorns, with a few buds and flowers. 
Close-up of branches, including sharp thorns.