The name of the Mohave/Mojave Desert honors the Aha Macav Native Americans. The desert stretches across about 54,000 square miles, including areas of Southern California, Utah, Nevada and Arizona. Although the Mohave has less than 6 inches of annual rainfall, its landscape is hardly bleak. It is home to native Joshua trees (Yucca Brevifolia) named for the Biblical leader, Joshua, and to a plethora of everblooming flowers that bring floral beauty and color to the Mohave.
The willow-like appearance of this small deciduous tree prompted its common name, desert willow (Chilopsis linearis). Fragrant pink-to-lavender flowers bloom throughout the May to September season in a setting of silvery foliage. Although the desert willow is native to the Mohave, it is adaptable for growing in gardens and pruning can create the effect of a weeping willow. Hummingbirds favor this tree.
Prince's plume (Stanleya pinnata) is a desert perennial and a member of the Brassicaceae or mustard family. Its impressively long plume of lemon-yellow blooms inspired this plant's name, with flower stalks rising to between 5 and 6 feet high. Its botanical name comes from Thomas Nuttall whose 1818 "Genera of North American Plants" classified this plant under a new genus, "Stanleya" in honor of the British naturalist, Lord Stanley. In 1889, Nathaniel Britton (1859 to 1934) designated it "Stanleya pinnata." The term "pinnata" means "feathered" in reference to the feather-like flower racemes.
The Mohave aster or Xylorhiza tortifolia (Machaeranthera tortifolia, Aster mohavensis, Aster mojavensis) is a member of the Asteraceae or sunflower family. It is a perennial found on sandy desert slopes at heights between 2,000 and 5,500 feet above sea level. Its lavender-to-purple flowers feature yellow centers, growing on stems that reach about 30 inches high and are usually leafless at the top.
The bright red tubular flowers of Eaton's penstemon prompted its other common name, firecracker penstemon. Botanically, it is Penstemon eatonii, a perennial whose multiple, 2-feet tall purplish stems are top heavy with tubular blooms. Hummingbirds seek out the flowers of this popular member of the Scrophulariaceae or Figwort family.
The California poppy (Eschscholtzia californica) stands out in the desert landscape. Its bright orange blooms are prominent on stems that reach between 6 inches and 24 inches high, with leaves like ferns. Its natural habitat is grassy, open areas up to a height of around 6,000 feet above sea level. The California poppy is a member of the Papaveraceae family.