|Despite the arid conditions, plants such as
desertholly, mesquite and
creosote dot the desert floor. In saltpans near creeks and springs, saltgrass and pickleweed grow on soil crusted with salt. Wildflowers were not in evidence during this February visit. In early 2016 above average rainfall led to a "once-in-a-decade" superbloom which drew a record 213,000 visitors in March.
|Desertholly (Atriplex hymenelytra)|
|Creosote (Larrea tridentata).|
|Honey mesquite (Prosopis juliftora).|
|Arrowweed (Pluchea sericea). Top photo, close up: Growing in the hills behind Texas Springs campground. Photo immediately above: In the Devil's Cornfield, erosion has created distinctive forms.|
|Saltgrass (Distichlis stricta).|
|Pickleweed (Allenrolfea occidentalis).|
Charles B. Hunt's "Plant Ecology of Death Valley, California" identifies three types of soil conditions in the Valley (to an elevation of 1,000 to 1,500 feet): saltpan, a sandy belt and gravel fans. He writes, "To a degree that may surprise many, the local distribution of species in such an arid region corresponds to the distribution of the different geological formations, especially in the Upper Pleistocent and Recent ones." Hunt divides plants into salt tolerant and less salt tolerant. He further distinguishes phreatophytes, defined as plants which have deep root system that draws their water supply from near the water table, and xerophytes, which are adapted to survive in an environment with little liquid water.
Charles B. Hunt. "Plant Ecology of Death Valley, California." U.S. Government Printing Office. 1966. [PDF]
Desert Seed Store. Apple Valley, CA.