Outdoors Magazine

Trumpets in the Desert

Posted on the 21 May 2015 by Hollis
Trumpets in the DesertThere are many many wild buckwheats – on the order of 450 species, subspecies and varieties. They’re native to North America and reach their greatest diversity here in the American West (e.g. 200+ in California alone).  I should be proud, but instead I avoid them because they’re notoriously hard to tell apart.  Even the acknowledged expert, JL Reveal, agrees with me:
“Species of Eriogonum [wild buckwheats] have long been regarded as among the most difficult in North America to distinguish” (source).
But there’s one wild buckwheat that’s among the easiest plants to distinguish, even though its flowers look pretty much like those of other wild buckwheats …

Trumpets in the Desert

Tiny yellow flowers.

… and the leaves are hardly distinctive.

Trumpets in the Desert

Rosette of basal leaves.

Yet even at a distance we can recognize it …

Trumpets in the Desert

Click on image to view plant in center of photo.

… by its stems!Trumpets in the DesertIt’s the … FANFARE!!! … desert trumpet, Eriogonum inflatum.  The photogenic inflated stems and branches give it away.Trumpets in the Desert

Trumpets in the Desert

Swollen main stems may be an inch across.

Trumpets in the Desert

Looking down into the very open spreading inflorescence (flower “cluster”).

Desert trumpet grows in Arizona, southern and east-central California, western Colorado, northwestern New Mexico, central and southern Nevada, southern and eastern Utah, Baja California and Sonora.  It does well on harsh arid sites (source).Trumpets in the Desert

Trumpets in the Desert

Desert trumpet in a rock garden in southeast Utah.  Plants are close to two feet tall.  Blue flowers belong to desert larkspur (Delphinium).

Once upon a time someone found insect eggs in stems of desert trumpet, and speculated that the hollow swellings were abnormal growth caused by insects.  Speculation became knowledge, which persists in spite of efforts to get rid of it (read more here, here and here). Insects sometimes lay eggs in the inflations, but plants grow them even where there are no insects – in labs for example.Inflated stems are a boon to photosynthesis.  They store carbon dioxide (unless insects drill holes to ventilate their nurseries), and provide up to 75% of a plant’s photosynthetic surface.  Even better, stems and branches remain green and photosynthetically active into summer, after the leaves have wilted (Waring 2011).Some desert trumpet plants do not have inflated stems.  “… this feature is partly a function of available moisture: the drier the conditions, the less pronounced the inflation.  Stems produced in the summer tend to be inflated less frequently than those produced in the spring” (source).   Non-inflated stems were the basis for an old variety that’s no longer recognized.  Too bad, it had a neat name:  Eriogonum inflatum var. deflatum.
By fall the stems have dried and turned brown, but they usually stay on the plant for at least another year.  You can take a dried stem and slice off half of the inflated part lengthwise to make a pipe, as some Indians did.  This is why desert trumpet is also known as Indian pipeweed.  Another name is bottle stopper.

Trumpets in the Desert

Desert trumpet/Indian pipeweed/bottle stopper in fall (pale stems are a year older).  Source.

Trumpets in the Desert

Emmie found desert trumpets on the crest of this small ridge north of Goosenecks State Park.

Sources (in addition to links in post)Clarke, C.  2013.  One of the oddest flowers: desert trumpet.  KCET.orgSchneider, A.  Eriogonum inflatum (desert trumpets) in WILDFLOWERS, FERNS, & TREES of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, & Utah [online].  Accessed May 2015.Waring, GL.  2011.  A natural history of the Intermountain West; its ecological and evolutionary story.  Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press.

You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • Classy and Elegant Wedding in Santorini | Hollie & David

    Classy Elegant Wedding Santorini Hollie David

    The wedding of today’s couple was simply gorgeous! Undoubtedly, Santorini is one of the most preferable and romantic destinations to create your wedding, so... Read more

    12 hours, 2 minutes ago by   Eleni Balkouli
  • Weather Or Not


    Our weather has been all over the place. Yesterday was beautiful -- but chilly. A few days ago it was almost in the 80s. And the day before that, there was snow... Read more

    12 hours, 15 minutes ago by   Vickilane
  • Does GoDaddy Have Too Much Power?

    Does GoDaddy Have Much Power?

    It seems more and more domain owners are rebelling against the GoDaddy monopoly. Huge Domains also appears to be in the crosshairs of more angry domainers. Read more

    12 hours, 28 minutes ago by   Worldwide
  • Experience Burma Here…

    Experience Burma Here…

    Burma Burma is one of the newest outlet in the city catering to Burmese food lover. The outlet is located in Indiranagar just opposite to Glocal. Read more

    12 hours, 29 minutes ago by   Rohit Dassani
  • Our Kind of Cruelty – Araminta Hall

    Kind Cruelty Araminta Hall

    Psychological Thriller5*s Verity and Mike are an example of a classic love story. They met at university, fell in love and then seven years later,... Read more

    13 hours, 15 minutes ago by   Cleopatralovesbooks
  • Opera Review: A Piece of Fairy Cake

    Opera Review: Piece Fairy Cake

    Joyce DiDonato sings a radiant Cendrillon at the Met. by Paul J. Pelkonen The lighting department: Joyce DiDonata as Cinderella in Massenet's Cendrillon.Photo b... Read more

    13 hours, 45 minutes ago by   Superconductor
  • Lizi's Granola Scones

    Lizi's Granola Scones

    This coming Monday will be Saint George's Day. All of the beautiful countries in the United Kingdom have a Patron Saint and the Patron Saint of England (where... Read more

    15 hours, 15 minutes ago by   Mariealicerayner