I don’t consider going to town a “fun” day, especially when it involves having very expensive brakes put on the front of my truck. But it’s good for stopping.
And on the drive back climbing out of the hot valley through the Pinyon/Juniper woodlands I enjoyed the transitions into spring on the Colorado Plateau and had to stop and smell the roses so to speak.
The Cliffroses are in full bloom and smell as sweet as any rose.
This shrub or small tree is part of the rose family displaying spring and summer flowers .75-1 inch (2-2.5 cm). The later fruit produces a cluster of showy, whitish, feathery tails.
Cliffrose provides an important browse plant for deer especially in winter.
In the past, Native Americans used the shreddy bark to make rope, sandals and clothing.
Not the only bloom found in this dry, limestone rock under the pinyons and junipers.
I discovered a true delight in the various shades of pinks the Sego Lilies exhibited.
I usually see only white Segos at a higher altitude in the park and later in June.
This 3-petaled beauty can occasionally be seen in magenta or tinged with lilac.
The Sego Lily is neighboring Utah’s state flower.
The long creamy Banana Yucca blooms had started to turn into a pod-like fruit that looks much like squash and is edible as are the very moist flowers.
After a wet winter, the Desert Globemallow has formed a spectacular exuberance as it lines the highway.
The many stems offer clusters of bright orange-red .5-1.5 inch (1.3-3.8 cm) flowers well into June.
The Juniper/Pinyon woodlands grow from 5000-7000 feet (1524-2134 m) in a transition zone between desert and forest.
The “two-leaf” or “Colorado” Pinyon grows to 15-35 feet (4.6-10.7 m) tall on open, orchard-like slopes of the plateau.
The delicious edible seeds, known as pine nuts or Indian nuts, can be eaten raw or roasted and once provided a staple food for southwestern Indians. I love to gather them in the fall if I can beat the pinyon jays, wild turkeys, packrats and deer to the harvest.
The Utah Juniper, also called a cedar, has scale-like leaves and produces bluish green berries which are edible but I find them a little bitter.
I also found a “shoealongroadside” looking a rather dull gray beside a Desert Sage. I believe it to be an invasive species, not the sage which smells rather nice in comparison. Sure wish travelers wouldn’t leave these things behind. And there’s probably one hopping child somewhere.
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