Panamint Daisies

Courtesy of cnps.org

Courtesy of cnps.org

Mary Beal tells us of her first trip to see Panamint Daisies. I’ll never forget the first time I came upon Death Valley’s Panamint Daisy in Wildrose Canyon, 11 years ago ( in 1950 ). Coming down into a narrowed part of the Wildrose Canyon between steep yellow-brown clay walls, the talus on the right was embellished with groups of unbelievably large yellow flowers like giant daisies, rising a foot or two above hemispherical clumps of tufted silvery leaves, a dozen or two dozen flower heads springing from a single plant. Most of the splendid blossoms measured 5 or 6 inches across. Here and there on the steep cliff all the way to the top, wherever a small ledge offered foothold, these remarkable plants had established themselves. Their tenure of the area seemed to be undisputed. They alone held sway over the arid surroundings, giving it enchantment, and to the botanist unalloyed satisfaction. The size of the flowers made me gasp with amazement. One especially fine blossom had a spread of IV* inches, which makes it the grand sweepstakes winner of my experience with the Panamint Daisy. A 6-inch breadth is common and I have never seen a fully opened flower less than 4 inches across. The whole plant is attractive. The large greenish-white leaves are soft and velvety in texture, overlaid with a silvery sheen. Indeed the specific name describes it well, meaning “shining” or “glistening leaves.” Most of its friends call it Panamint Daisy but its special botanical niche is in the Sunflower Tribe of the immense family Composite, its full name being

Courtesy of geol.ucsb.edu

Courtesy of geol.ucsb.edu

You’ll also find it labeled Enceliopsis covillei, in honor of Dr. Frederick Coville, botanist of the Death Valley Expedition of 1891. He was sent out by the U. S. Department of Agriculture to make a biological survey of the Death Valley region. It is a shrub-like, woody-based perennial with a stout root and several short stout branches crowded with the tufted leaf-bases. The large roundish-ovate leaf blades are 2 to 4 inches long, ribbed on the back with 3 to 5 conspicuous veins, and contract into a flat petiole 1 to 3 inches long. The numerous showy flower heads are borne on long stout scapes, a single head atop each tall naked stalk. There are 2 or 3 dozen lanceolate lemon-yellow rays 2 inches, more or less, long, disposed in a single row around the broad disk, which is densely crowded with tiny florets, a slightly deeper yellow than the rays. The bracts of the involucre are lanceolate, sharply pointed, and whitened like the leaves, numerous and widely
spreading. The flat achenes are dark brown or black, obovate, notched at the apex, surrounded by a callous wing. I have found them blooming in April in normal seasons, as did Dr. Coville.

Enceliopsis argophylla variety grandiflora (Encelia grandiflora)

This article is courtesy of Desertmagazine.com

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