As we headed uphill into the mountains, we saw 5-6 feet tall plants with yellow plumes. A new species for us. We pulled off the highway onto a side road near an electrical substation and a cement plant. Of course, we started photographing the plumed plant.
The flowers on the Prince's plume were quite showy and on that day, they had attracted lots of insects. The large beetle (a shield bug sort of insect?) is quite a contrast to the small insects. Those small insects were present in large numbers and were busy increasing their numbers. More photos of insects on the prince's plumes in a separate insect gallery.
There seemed two likely possibilities: scarlet bugler which we are very familiar with and Eaton firecracker which we had not seen before. After consulting our usuall resources including the Facebook CNPS group, I'm still not sure but I think it is Eaton firecracker.
At one of these stops, we spotted a clump of pink flowers up the bank. Too far to see them in detail. Then I found one close enough for a good photo. A very elegant plant and another new discovery for us.
WishbonebushCaliforniafouro'clockMirabilislaevisvar.crassifoliamaybealbidaP1110018Common NameWishbone bush California four o'clockScientific NameMirabilis laevis var. crassifolia or maybe Mirabilis albida
We were beginning to wonder whether we missed the gravel Cactus Flat Road where we hoped to see Desert Mariposa Lilies. Finally, we got there and parked a hundred yards down the side road. We didn't see the Mariposas right away but we found another discovery.
We were wondering whether we missed the bloom period but a couple of hundred yards farther along, we saw lots of Desert Mariposa lilies. I can appreciate small pastel flowers but these large flowers with intense, saturated color are hard to beat. More pictures in a separate Calochortus gallery.
After a bathroom break at Big Bear, we turned around and came back down Highway 18. We spotted a Fremontodendron bush next to the road and stopped. It was hard to get a good picture of a flower for various reasons: hard to isolate a single flower, flowers facing downward and flowers in deep shade. Lesley got a good picture of a flower here and got a ladybug as a bonus.
We saw this strange flowering bush once and didn't understand it at all. Later that day at a different location, we saw more plants at different stages and understood more about the way the plant blooms and goes to seed.
I'm not sure whether this species of wire lettuce is new to us or not. We saw wire lettuce flowers for years before the name stuck with us until we saw them again. We came for the Mariposa and found lots more discoveries. A nice morning's work.