Sunday

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

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It's amazing what beauty surrounds us if we just take the time to find it. Plant or a flower – neither really – it’s an herb. If you were not familiar with this plant and its blossoms you might not be able to identify it from this photo. Though they look rather large in this close-up photo, they are actually quite small, less than a half-inch in size. I took these shots on 06/16/2011, on a large ‘clump’ that completely surrounds the base of one of the large palm trees at our pool area.

DESCIPTION: Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a woody, perennial herb with fragrant, evergreen, needle-like leaves.  It is a member of the mint family Lamiaceae, which also includes many other herbs. The name rosemary derives from the Latin name rosmarinus, or "dew of the sea". Because in many locations it needs no other water than the humidity carried by the sea breeze to live; it is native to the Mediterranean region. The leaves are evergreen, 0.8 to1.6 inches long and .4 inches broad, green above, and white below with dense short woolly hair. Flowering, very common in a mature and healthy specimens and generally occurs in summer. Its flower colors are variable, being white, pink, purple, or blue. Dried leaves are frequently in Mediterranean cuisine. When burned, they give off a distinct mustard smell, as well as a smell similar to that of burning wood, which can be used to flavor foods while barbecuing. E-P1050702
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Thursday

Orange Day Lily (Hemerocallis fulva)

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I took these Day Lily pictures on 06/13/2011 on a morning visit to our pool area. Though it has many common names, Tiger Lily is the one I grew up with on the east coast. It is considered an old-fashioned perennial that isn’t sold much any more, even though it is a very long-lived plant. Unfortunately they don’t seem to be as abundant in number as they were when we first moved in here. Some of the Mexican landscapers we’ve had over the past several years, lacking in knowledge as to what is and what isn’t a flower, or weed, once the flowers have gone by, have either over pruned them or ripped them out thinking they were just weeds.

DESCRIPTION: The Orange Day Lily (Hemerocallis fulva) of the Lily family (Liliaceae) is a perennial plant with a rosette of basal leaves and flowering stalks about 3-6' tall. The basal leaves are hairless and linear with parallel venation, tapering gradually to a sword-like point and have a tendency to bend outward and down around the middle - presenting a somewhat floppy appearance. Rising from the center of the rosette, much taller than the leaves, several tall, very stout flowering stalks. Each stalk is hairless and largely naked, except for a few green bracts along its length. It is largely unbranched, except near the apex, where there is panicle consisting of a few small clusters of flowers. The flowers are quite large and are a bright yellowish-orange color.
The flowers, spanning individually about 3-4 inches across, are held semi-erect or horizontally on the their stalks, rather than hanging downward. Each flower consists of 6 orange tepals (3 petals and 3 sepals that are similar in appearance) that are united at the base, but spread outward and backward toward their tips. The 3 inner tepals are somewhat broader than the 3 outer tepals. The margins of each tepal are rolled. The throat of the flower is yellow, around which there is a band of red, while the remainder of the flower is some shade of orange. Exerted from its center, there are 6 long stamens and a single style. The buds of the flowers are green to greenish orange, oblong, and up to 3" long. The blooming period occurs during mid-summer and lasts about a month. Each flower lasts only a single day, hence the common name. E-IMG_0031
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Friday

The Hikers

I captured these photos on a hiking journey to the Sandy Valley area of southern Nevada with the Heritage Park Senior Facility Rock Hounds on 27 January 2011. Even though I captured these silhouettes in color, after viewing I immediately felt they would look better in black and white. After some minor adjustments such as cropping and upping the exposure values, I converted them to Black and White Film mode in Paint Shop Pro. I have yet to decide which I like the most. Connie likes "Day's End" and I'm partial to the silhouette in the second photo, "The Hiker". If you would like to vote on the one you like best, send me the title of your favorite to kccandcj@yahoo.com.

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Tuesday

Notch-Leaved Phacelia (Phacelia crenulata)

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(Fig. 01)
Picture Notes: On 04/05/2011 my  cousin and I visited the Hoover Dam and the new by-pass bridge. The terrain bordering the walkway that leads from a parking area up to the Hoover Dam bypass bridge contained hundreds of these tiny, delicate flowers (Figs. 01-03), many seemingly growing right out of the rock. Even though we got lots of pictures of the dam and bridge, I thought seeing and capturing these were the find of the day.

Description: Notched-Leaved Phacella (Phacelia crenulata), a.k.a. Cleftleaf Wild Heliotrope, Scorpionweed, Scalloped Phacelia and Caterpillar Weed, is a species of phacelia that is native to the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. It is an annual plant that grows from 3-24 inches tall, with crenate (having a round-toothed or scalloped edge) to deeply lobed green hairy leaves up to 3 to 4.5 inches in length. Crushed leaves smell like onions.
   
Its open flower clusters, coiled like a scorpion’s tail, are made up of many small, bell-shaped, purple flowers with white or light blue throats that all grow from the same side of the branching flower stalks. The individual flowers are 1/2 inch wide and have 5 round lobes. The stems are reddish, hairy, and sticky.
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(Fig. 02)

The petals of the flowers are deep violet to blue-purple in color and up to a half inch long. It can produce a skin rash similar to that produced by poison ivy or poison oak. Notch-leaf Phacelia is a common component of desert vegetation communities during the spring. Its habitat is dry, well-drained sandy and gravelly soils on flats, in and along washes, on bajadas, and on moderate slopes into the middle-elevation mountains up to 7,000 feet from Nevada to California, Utah, and Arizona, and south into northwestern Mexico.

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(Fig. 03)

Sunday

Milkweed Bug (Oncopeltus fasciatus)

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I captured this picture in front of the Hotel Nipton on 07/27/2009 on a road trip to Laughlin Nevada via  Nipton California and Searchlight Nevada. These plants were climbing the posts on the
porch that surrounded the outside of the hotel. I’m not sure what the flower is, all I know is that it is not the “milkweed” plant for which this insect is named.

DESCRIPTION: The milkweed bug, Oncopeltus fasciatus, is a medium–sized hemipteran (true bug) of the family Lygaeidae. This insect's name includes "milkweed," the plant on which most spend all stages of their life.

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Milkweed is this bug's primary food source. However, when milkweed is scarce, it can shift from being a herbivore to a scavenger and predator. This insect is classified as a "true bug," with characteristic sucking mouthparts. Like all hemiptera, it feeds through a long mouthpart known as a rostrum.

The large milkweed bug adult is a 9–18 mm long insect. Mature adults are orange with black rhomboidal spots at both end of a body and a black band in the middle. Like monarchs, its bold orange and black warning colors protect it from predators. Their wingpads are visible and become more pronounced with each molt. Adult females have several black spots on rear part of their abdomen, while males have only one.

Adults that survived winter mate in May-June. During mating, female and male may become connected for up to 10 hours. Eggs are laid on seed pods or under a leaf. The average female lays 30 pale orange eggs in a day, in several batches during summer. Eggs change color, becoming more intensely orange toward hatching. This insect undergoes incomplete metamorphosis. Nymphs hatch after about 1 week and molt 5 times before becoming adults. Adults and nymphs feed on milkweed plant juices, seeds and occasionally on other plant juices. When their native plant is scarce, they may become scavengers and predators. After feeding on milkweed plant or seeds, the insects accumulate toxic glycosides in their bodies. This, combined with warning orange color, protects them against predators.

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Saturday

European (Mediterranean) Fan Palm (Chamaerops humilis)

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With Spring here once more, it's now time to head out and begin enjoying our pool area and the fine weather that Las Vegas is noted for. The beautiful landscaping and lush pool area was one of the main reasons we moved into this apartment home complex. Sitting by the pool always makes us feel like we are on vacation at some south Pacific island. Here is just another example of the palms gracing our pool area are the European Fan Palm. We must have at least 20-25 of these wonderful little palms, usually in clumps of 4-5 palms. These pictures were taken on various pool visits over the past several years.

DESCRIPTION: The European Fan Palm Tree (Chamaerops humilis) is also known as Mediterranean Fan Palm, Dwarf Fan Palm, and Palmito. It is native to the Mediterranean region of Europe. It is a shrub-like clumping palm, with several stems growing from a single base reaching a height of only 7-10 feet with a width of about 10 feet.  The trunks are covered in old leaf bases and brown fibers, can reach 9-12 inches in diameter. They rarely grow higher than 10 feet and can take 10-15 years to achieve 7ft.
It has triangular, palmate, or fan shaped, leaves that range from blue green to silvery gray in color. Leaves grow outward then upward. It is a fan palm (Arecaceae tribe Corypheae), with the leaves with a long petiole terminating in a rounded fan of 10-20 leaflets; each leaf is up to 3-4 feet long, with the leaflets 20-30 inches long. It also has numerous sharp needle-like spines produced on the leaf stems; these protect the stem growing point from browsing animals. During late spring months it produces small yellow flowers. The flowers are monoecious, individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant. Flowers are borne in dense, short clusters at the top of the stems, followed by green fruits that turn a brownish orange when ripe. Fruits are around 0.5 inch in diameter, develop in fall and are not edible.
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Friday

Mexican Fan Palm (Washingtonia robusta)

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Taken on 06/02/2011, here are some pictures of the magnificent, towering Mexican Fan Palm trees that surround our pool area at The Players Club. I believe this complex is about 22 years old, and these beautiful mature palms certainly reflect that. Almost all of them are between 80 and 100 feet, the maximum height of the Mexican Fan Palm.

DESCRIPTION: Washingtonia robusta, commonly called the Mexican Fan Palm or Mexican Washingtonia, is a palm tree native to western Sonora and Baja California Sur in northwestern Mexico. It grows to 82 feet tall and sometimes up to 100 feet and is topped with a crown of 20-25 large fronds.  Leaves are rich glossy green, palmate, or fan-shaped, about 5 feet long and 4 feet wide. They have lance-shaped leaflets with elegant drooping tips that provide a very tropical appearance to the landscape. The petioles of mature palms are armed with short, sharp thorns. Be careful when trimming. In the late spring, the Mexican Fan Palm produces small creamy flowers. Flowers grow in clusters on the branched inflorescence 8-10ft long that extends past the leaves. Flowers are followed by black berry-like drupes, about 1/2 inches in diameter.The thin-fleshed edible fruit is a spherical, blue-black drupe, about 24–31 inches in diameter.
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The Mexican fan palm is not self-cleaning and often has a skirt of turned-down brown dead fronds. For this reason it is often called the Petticoat palm. Fortunately for us, property management hires someone to come in every year and climb these monsters and trim off the dead fronds.  As there are about 13 of them scattered about the pool and spa area, this is quite a job and necessitates shutting down the pool area for at least a full day.

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African Iris (Dietes bicolor)

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Every spring we get to enjoy these tropical like iris that are scattered about our pool area. I took these pictures on 06/01/2011. As each clump of these plants seems to contain dozens upon dozens of buds, they appear to stay in bloom for nearly two months. They are so beautiful and delicate that I couldn’t resist capturing some close-ups to add to this gallery for permanent viewing. I want to thank Kate Kennedy Butler from Glover, Vermont for helping me to identify this wonderful flower. 

DESCRIPTION: The Dietes (Genus) bicolor (Species) (variably known as African iris or Fortnight lily) is a clump-forming perennial plant with long sword-like pale-green leaves, growing from multiple fans at the base of the clump. As the name suggests, the African or Cape iris are native to Africa and consists of only 6 species – the Dietes bicolor being one of the most common. Other common names for this species include Yellow Wild Iris, Peacock Flower and Butterfly Iris. This species belongs to the Iridacea (Iris) family. It can reach a height of 18-36 inches and has beautifully delicate, yellowish, cream-white flowers that generally last 1-3 days each. The bottom three outer petals (technically the sepals) have three dark purple blotches surrounded by bright orange outline markings at their base. It blooms from mid-spring to early summer and is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds.
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Mimosa Tree (Albizia julibrissin)

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I took this picture this morning, 06/01/2011, while spending some time out at our pool. It was a beautiful morning, if yet still a little breezy. I’ve decided to start taking my camera with me whenever we go out to the pool in order to get in a little more practice in improving my picture taking skills. Today I concentrated on taking pictures of the various Mimosa trees that surround our pool area. These trees continue blooming for up to two months and we absolutely love them; however the pool maintenance people hate them. Their flowers are continually blowing off and dropping into the pool making keeping it ‘clean’ quite a chore.

DESCRIPTION: Albizia julibrissin, a species of legume in the genus Albizia, is known by a wide variety of common names, such as Persian silk tree, or pink siris, it is most commonly referred to as silk tree or mimosa in the United States. It is native to Iran and Central China. It has a single trunk with smooth gray bark. Up to 20 inches long, its green leaves are alternate, bipinnately compound with 10 to 25 pinnae, each with 40 to 60 leaflets.  Leaflets are oblong, very oblique, 1/4" to 1/2" long.  It has a fruit pod that is 5" to 7" long, 1" wide and light gray brown in color. 

With its graceful, fern-like tropical-looking foliage coupled with its soft, feathery, scented flowers this tree provides a wonderful tropical feel. Some say it flowers have a nutmeg like smell. The Mimosa, which is attractive to honeybees, butterflies, and birds.  One of the most unique aspects of this tree is that each of its feather-like, multi-divided leaves actually goes to “sleep” at night, folding in and nodding toward the ground. In late winter or spring the broad, rounded crown is peppered with small, white-to-yellow flower heads made up of silky, feather threads, which are extraordinary. Loving long and dry summers, this vase-shaped, often multi-stemmed, broad-spreading small tree grows to about 30 feet with a broad, spreading crown. After flowering, they bear flat light brown pods about 5 inches long. 
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Some more pool shots. (above) View looking towards the pool from the outside spa. (below left) the area beneath one of the large Mimosa trees where we usually sit with our neighbors. (below right) A view looking towards the water lagoons and the Legacy golf course.
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Thursday

Late Night Trailhead in Red Rock Canyon Recreation Lands

09/27/2012 -  Rather than create separate blog entries for subsequent visits to a location, I simply insert a new "Trip Notes" section to describe the most recent visit and display some of the day's pics. Any additional pictures taken are then added to the slideshow (if applicable) at the bottom of the post. Scroll down to view the latest trip notes section below.

{Click on an image to enlarge, then use the back button to return to this page}

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Destination: Late Night Trailhead
Distance from Point of Origin: 21 miles.
Estimated (One Way) Travel Time: 35 minutes.
Directions: From the Stratosphere Casino, head southwest on South Las Vegas Blvd go 1.7 miles and turn right onto Spring Mountain Rd. Go .7 miles and turn left to merge onto I-15 South. Travel 5.5 miles and take exit 33 to merge onto NV-160 W/Blue Diamond Rd/SR-160 (aka Pahrump Highway) west toward Pahrump. Heading west on NV-160 go past SR-159 (West Charleston Blvd)  the turn to Red Rock Canyon.  The trailhead is located on the right side of NV-160, about 4.7 miles past the intersection with NV-159. This trailhead is not in the fee area.

General Description: The Late Night Trailhead is part of the extensive Cottonwood Valley Trail system located within Red Rock Canyon Recreation Lands. Though most of the trails were designed as mountain biking trails, they provide great hiking opportunities. The Late Night loop trail around the hill from the trailhead in the parking area is a relatively easy 3.5 mile hike that provides some spectacular views of the Wilson Cliffs along the west side of Cottonwood Valley. Many people argue that this place is the best reason to bring a mountain bike along to Las Vegas, or rent one once you're in town. Even though the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area to the north, commonly known as Red Rocks, encompasses 197,000 acres within the Mojave Desert, this southern tip in the Cottonwood Valley of the "Recreation Lands", outside the fee area, is the only place that allows mountain biking.
Special Attraction or Points of Interest:  The biking trails here are the best in Los Vegas. There are over 125 miles of interconnecting single-track and an 11 mile NORBA race loop here.  Portions of these trails are thought to have been created by the many wild burros in the area. The Wilson Cliff's, located immediately to the west of the trail system, offer amazing views.
Primary Activity: Biking
Secondary Activities: Hiking/Photographing.

Elevation: 3,965 Feet
Best Time To Visit: Available for visitation and hiking year round, the best time to make this hike would be in the cooler months of Fall, Winter and Spring.
Difficulty: Easy.
Facilities: None.
Estimated Round-trip Time: 2-3 hours depending upon how much hiking and picture taking you do.
More Info On the Late Night Trailheadhttp://www.birdandhike.com/Hike/Red_Rocks/Trailheads/LateNite/_LateNte.htm

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(Fig. 01)
09/27/2012 Trip Notes: After a failed attempt to visit Lovell Canyon, due to road construction, we decided to hike the Spanish Trail and Late Night Trailhead in Cottonwood Valley. Having hiked here several times in the past, several of us headed west, picking out one of the canyons in the Wilson Cliffs as a destination point while others in the group did some hiking and rock-hounding along the Old Spanish Trail. For a detailed map and more information on the hikes in Cottonwood Valley and along the Wilson Cliffs, go to my page Daytrip - Wilson Cliffs & Cottonwood Valley.Unfortunately, the many ‘cross-washes’ in the desert terrain became too much for us and the allotted time we had been given, and we had to head back before reaching our goal. The hike however, was very enjoyable and provided us with some nice color and great views, as evidenced by the photos in (Fig. 01 & 14), as well as the opportunity to see a variety of desert flora and wildlife.
  
Below (Figs. 02 thru 07), give you an idea of some of the desert flora and color that we experienced today. I believe (Fig. 02) is a species of the Desert Monkey Flower. The bush in the middle (Fig. 03) is Desert Lavender.  I think (Fig. 04) is a patch of Goldfields. (Fig. 05) is Globe Mallow. The yellow weed in (Fig. 06), that appears to be everywhere this year, is a Manybristle Chinchweed (Pectis papposa). The rock in (Fig. 07) appears to be Yolk Lichens (Acarospora spp.).
                   
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(Fig. 02)
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(Fig. 03)
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(Fig. 04
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(Fig. 05)
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(Fig. 06)
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(Fig. 07)
Now for some of the other desert life that we encountered. (Fig. 08) shows one of the dozens of White-lined Sphinx Moth caterpillars that we encountered throughout today’s hiking. The middle picture (Fig. 09) is just one of the beautiful butterflies that, though they appeared to be just everywhere, very seldom landed on anything. I’m still trying to identify the spider in (Fig. 10). If you look carefully, you will find a grasshopper sitting on one of the Globe Mallow cups (Fig. 11). The monster in (Fig. 12) appears to be a Great Basin Fence Lizard. In the center of the final picture (Fig. 14), the "V" between the two mountains right above my fellow hiking partner Tom, is the location of the canyon that we attempted to hike to. Maybe another day!
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(Fig. 08)
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(Fig. 09)
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(Fig. 10)
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(Fig. 11)
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(Fig. 12)
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(Fig. 13)
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(Fig. 14)

05/03/2012  Trip Notes: After a failed attempt to reach Black Velvet canyon at the base of the cliffs, we spent the rest of the time hiking the hills surrounded by the Late Night Trail. John and I hiked back from partway across Cottonwood Valley, then up and over the three ridges back to the trailhead at the parking area. The rest of the group hiked the ridge from the parking area and the trails that circled the ridge.

The next four views were shot from the ridgeline, high above the trailhead and parking area. The first shot is looking south towards the trailhead and parking area – that’s out van parked at the left side of the parking lot. The second view is looking towards the a southwest view of Cottonwood Valley and the Old Spanish Trail that we hike earlier in the morning with the Mt. Potosi Range in the background. The third picture is a view looking west towards the Wilson Cliffs. The fourth and final picture in this grouping is looking North, back out over portion of the Cottonwood Valley that John and I hiked, with the Bonnie Springs Ranch (middle left) and the Red Rock Conservation Area in the far background.
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Here are a couple of pictures that we took as we hiked across the valley in the above picture. Note what appears to be a fossilized shell embedded in the rock in the middle picture. The last shot is a picture of John resting after we reached the summit.
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04/12/2012 Trip Notes: Because there was no scheduled hike with the rock-hounds today, and because it was a beautiful sunny day, I decided to drive over and capture a few pictures. On today's visit I hiked about 1-1/2 miles straight out into the valley towards the base of the cliffs. Except for the outstanding views, the one disappointing thing was that, minus the occasional desert sunflower, there were no wildflowers or blooms of any kind.

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This trail, smack-dab in the middle of Cottonwood Valley is at the southern tip of the Red Rock Canyon Recreation Lands, a 316,819 acre area that provides spectacular views of the Wilson Cliffs or Keystone Thrust. The cliffs are located at the southern end of the eastern ridge line of the Spring Mountains, sometimes referred to as the Redstone Bluffs, and include Mt. Wilson, Rainbow Mountain and Bridge Mountain. The shot above was taken from the beginning of Blue Diamond road, just a few miles before you get to the Late Night Trailhead turnoff, and shows Mt. Wilson on the right at 7,071 feet, the second highest peak in the 195,819 acre Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, a designated area located within the (RRCRL). (Click map to enlarge)


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E-P1110090Just a few hundred yards out from the east bound trailhead, a look back provides a beautiful view southwest towards Potosi Mountain or Mt. Potosi as it’s more often called. At 8,514 feet this is one of the higher mountains in the Spring Mountain range. As you can see, the topography is quite complex as it is surrounded by high limestone cliffs on three sides. Most known as the site of the 1942 plane crash into the northeast side of the mountain that killed Carol Lombard, there are a number large caves and mines, including the famous Potosi Mine – a producer of silver, lead and zinc, it has been estimated that this mine grossed close to 4.5 million dollars over the years. As can be seen in the picture on the right, today its peak is covered with several radio and TV broadcast towers (click picture to enlarge).
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After taking the southern route from the parking area and rounding a rather barren hillside, one is immediately confronted with one of the most colorful and beautiful vistas available anywhere within the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Roughly a 1-1/2 to 2 mile hike through the valley shown in the top picture will take you to the base of the cliffs, Mt. Wilson, Oak Creek and Juniper Canyon.
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04/21/2011Trip Notes: On today's visit I hiked about 1/2 of the 3-1/2 mile loop trail  as part of a daytrip with the rock hounds from the Heritage Park Senior Facility.

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From the parking area we headed east around the hill. Within minutes we were confronted with these two spectacular views.
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Once again we were witness to nature’s beauty with a variety of wildflowers, butterflies and cactus. One thing I can say for sure, all of the mountain bikers that passed us were all going much too fast to see these glimpses of beauty.

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(OPTION 1) Each show is designed to run automatically in place, without leaving the current browser window. If the show is not already running, just click the large "Play" button in the middle of the picture and let it run.

(OPTION 2) Running the cursor over the picture being shown will PAUSE the show and bring up a navigation bar at the bottom of the slideshow window with Pause, Forward and Back buttons, allowing you to start, stop or manually forward or back up pictures one at a time.


Slideshow Description:
The slideshow above contains 61 pictures that were taken in and around the Cottonwood Valley and along the Late Night Trail during my last five visits here.