|Picture Notes: I captured this recent shot (Fig. 01) on 03/21/2013 while hiking a wash along Lake Mead’s Southshore Road. The remaining pictures (Figs. 02 thru 04) were taken on 04/05/2011 at 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 is contains hundreds of these tiny, delicate flowers, 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: The Notch-Leaved Phacelia (Phacelia crenulata) is a species of phacelia that is native to the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. Its most common names are Notch-leaved Phacelia and cleftleaf wild heliotrope, but also include Scorpionweed, Scalloped Phacelia, Caterpillarweed. 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.
The petals of the flowers vary from 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.