Shorthorn Spurge

Euphorbia brachycera Although it resembles the pernicious invasive Leafy spurge, this little native is smaller and exhibits better manners. Some guides use the common name “Horned spurge,” but I think the “Shorthorn” version is more winsome. Up here, the plants grow to seven or eight inches tall, and tend to be solitary rather than forming…

Yucca

If you’re looking for contrast, look to the yucca:  fat, buttery-looking flowers paired with sharp leaves that, believe me, will elicit a defensive yelp at the slightest inadvertent brush. The yucca demand attention in other ways, too. Their flowering has been fabulous, and I assumed I had plenty of time. I admired the display on…

Slender-Tube Skyrocket

I shouldn’t have been surprised when I discovered, in researching this post, that the common names “Skyrocket” and “Gilia” refer to more than one species of plant. The genus name (as I’ve recently learned) is Ipomopsis. You’ll often see populations of Scarlet Gilia as red spikes jutting out of the bare dirt of road cuts…

Western Wallflower

Erysimum asperum They’re typically single pompoms of yellow popping up around the grasslands, but the plants sometimes branch and find more elaborate forms. The one above is on a rich patch along the pasture fenceline, next to one of Jake’s poop piles (he’s very organized, likes to keep his sh*t together). Western wallflower is the…

Miner’s Candle

Cryptantha thyrsiflora Although it looks softly inviting, this plant’s covering of fine hairs is more bristle than fuzz. If you yield to the temptation to touch one, you’ll only do so once, at least on purpose: the experience is closer to stinging nettle than velvety lamb’s ear. For that reason, I’m not keen on them…