Erigeron divergens Torrey & Gray, 1841 - spreading fleabane (Plantae, Angiospermophyta, Asterales, Asteraceae/Compositae) near Double Arch, Arches National Park, eastern Utah, USA.  This plant is a member of the daisy/sunflower family (Asteraceae), the second-largest group of angiosperms in the world, with >23,000 described species.  The spreading fleabane has many dull green-colored stems with small, narrow to moderately narrow, elongated leaves.  The flower consists of a small, yellowish, central disk surrounded by narrow, elongated, whitish petals.  Erigeron divergens occurs in a variety of open habitats in Mexico, western America, and southwestern Canada.



Senecio atratus Greene, 1896 - blacktip ragwort (Plantae, Angiospermophyta, Asterales, Asteraceae/Compositae) in Rocky Mountains National Park, northern Colorado, USA.  This flowering plant occurs in subalpine environments in parts of mountainous western America.



Achillea alpicola Rydberg, 1906 - Alpine yarrow (Plantae, Angiospermophyta, Asterales, Asteraceae/Compositae) in Rocky Mountains National Park, northern Colorado, USA.



Casasia clusiifolia (Jacquin, 1797) (above & below) - seven year apple (Plantae, Angiospermophyta, Rubiales, Rubiaceae) on North Point Peninsula, northeastern San Salvador Island, eastern Bahamas.  This shrub-like tree occurs along marine shorelines in Florida and in the Caribbean.  Such environments are prone to drought and saltwater spray, especially during storms.  Casasia clusiifolia is quite tolerant of such conditions.  The leaves are distinctive in being elongated, glossy, relatively thick, and being laterally curled downward (see below).  The “apple” fruits are slightly elongated, subspherical structures (see above).  The fruits change color as they ripen over a year, from greenish to yellowish to brownish to blackish.



Abronia fragrans Hooker, 1853 - sand verbena (Plantae, Angiospermophyta, Caryophyllales, Nyctaginaceae) with closed flowers in Park Avenue, Arches National Park, eastern Utah, USA.  The nyctaginaceans are a group of almost 300 species of herbaceous plants in tropical, subtropical, and sometimes temperate settings.  Abronia fragrans is a perennial that occupies dry sandy settings in much of western North America.  Its whitish, trumpet-shaped flowers are famously sweetly scented, and occur in subspherical clusters.



Tournefortia gnaphalodes (Linnaeus, 1759) (above & below) - bay lavender/sea lavender/sea rosemary (Plantae, Angiospermophyta, Lamiales, Boraginaceae) on North Point Peninsula, northeastern San Salvador Island, eastern Bahamas.  This two to six feet-high perennial shrub grows in full sun in marine coastal dune and thicket environments.  Leaves are relatively slender, elongated, succulent (fleshy), and grayish-green in color.  This plant is tolerant of drought and occasional saltwater spray.  It occurs in Bermuda, along some Gulf of Mexico coasts, and along some Caribbean coasts.




Eriogonum inflatum Torrey & Frémont in Frémont, 1845 - desert trumpet (Plantae, Angiospermophyta, Polygonales, Polygonaceae) in Park Avenue, Arches National Park, eastern Utah, USA.  The desert trumpet is a distinctive member of the buckwheat family - it’s a perennial herb with naked, dull-green stems noticeably inflated below the bases of several, very slender branches.  Flowers are small and yellowish.  Leaves occur close to the ground, surrounding the base of the stem.  Eriogonum inflatum occurs on sandy and rocky desert substrates in the desert southwestern USA and northwestern Mexico.



Ephedra (above & below) - Mormon tea (Plantae, Chlamydospermae, Gnetales) from Park Avenue, Arches National Park, eastern Utah, USA.  Ephedra is one of a few plants that defy traditional plant classification.  Botanists generally consider it to be an odd gymnosperm or “transitional” between gymnosperms and angiosperms.  The high-level taxon “Chlamydospermae” has been established for this and a few other forms.  Ephedra is a medium-sized shrub having many stiff, upright to semi-upright, essentially bare branches with regularly spaced nodes.  Tiny and scale-like leaves occur at the nodes along the branches.  There are between 30 and 40 living species of Ephedra.  Species identification generally requires very close examination.  It prefers pebbly or sandy soil in cool desert settings.  Ephedra is known from many desert environments in the New Wold and much of the Old World.



Penstemon eatonii Gray, 1872 - firecracker beardtongue (Plantae, Angiospermophyta, Scrophulariales, Scrophulariaceae) in Deer Creek Canyon, Marysvale Volcanic Field, southwestern Utah, USA.  This relatively small plant occurs in mountainous desert settings of southwestern & western America.  Leaves are elongated, ~rounded proximally, and taper distally.  A series of scarlet-colored, drooping, somewhat long, tubular flowers occur along the flowering stalk.

Info. summarized from Mammoser & Tekiela (2007).



Penstemon unilateralis Rydberg, 1906 - one-sided beardtongue (Plantae, Angiospermophyta, Scrophulariales, Scrophulariaceae) near Gunnison Point, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, western Colorado, USA.  This species occurs in portions of the eastern Cordillera of western USA.  It has a series of pinkish-purple flowers on only one side of the stem.  Its leaves are more narrow than those of Penstemon eatonii (see above).

Info. summarized from Mammoser & Tekiela (2007).



Echinocereus triglochidiatus Engelmann in Wislizenus, 1848 - claret-cup cactus (Plantae, Angiospermophyta, Caryophyllales, Cactaceae) near Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry, east-central Utah, USA.  The clasts of the pebbly substrate upon which this specimen is growing are derived from a polymict conglomerate unit - the Buckhorn Conglomerate Member of the Cedar Mountain Formation (Lower Cretaceous).  Claret-cup cactus occurs in hot, rocky, desert settings of southwestern America & northern Mexico.  The flowers are intensely scarlet, sitting on top of stumpy, cylindrical, highly spinose stems.  Like other cactuses, this plant lives in arid environments and has features that conserve water.  The spiny, green, stumpy stems of cactuses are photosynthetic.  The leaves of cactuses have evolved into spines.



Opuntia dillenii (Ker Gawler, 1818) (above & below) - common prickly-pear cactus (Plantae, Angiospermophyta, Caryophyllales, Cactaceae).  Opuntia cactuses consist of upright stacks of fleshy, subcircular to elongated segments covered with long, slender, sharp spines.  This species’ natural distribution is Caribbean-area islands, Florida, and Mexico.

Above: Green Cay, western Graham’s Harbour, offshore from northwestern San Salvador Island, eastern Bahamas.

Below: near Garden Cave, between Reckley Hill Settlement Pond and Crescent Pond, northeastern San Salvador Island, eastern Bahamas.




Pilosocereus royenii (Linnaeus, 1753) - bearded cactus (Plantae, Angiospermophyta, Caryophyllales, Cactaceae) near Garden Cave (above left) and at Crescent Pond (above right), northeastern San Salvador Island, eastern Bahamas.  This large cactus consists of tall, upright, fleshy stems having prominent, axis-parallel longitudinal ridges bearing clusters of radiating spines.  A tuft of long, whitish hair occurs on one side near the top - the “beard”.  If moisture/dew form on the hairs, the water drips downward, near the plant's roots.  This is an evolutionary adaptation to living in an arid climate.  The bearded cactus only occurs on Caribbean islands and in Central America’s Yucatan Peninsula.



Uniola paniculata Linnaeus, 1753 - sea oats (Plantae, Angiospermophyta, Poales, Poaceae) along the southern shore of Graham’s Harbour, northern margin of San Salvador Island, eastern Bahamas.  This is a common, tall grass in subtropical, vegetated back-beach facies along the eastern and Gulf of Mexico coasts of America, Mexico, and on Caribbean islands.  As such, it is tolerant of saline conditions (sea spray).  It’s root systems are deep and extensive, resulting in well-stabilized back-beach sediment surfaces.



Sesuvium portulacastrum (Linnaeus, 1753) - sea purslane (Plantae, Angiospermophyta, Caryophyllales, Aizoaceae) at Green Cay, western Graham’s Harbour, offshore from northwestern San Salvador Island, eastern Bahamas.  This low-growing, runner-type land plant has greenish- to reddish-colored, elongated-ovoid, thick, fleshy leaves.  It near-globally distributed along tropical and subtropical coastlines.



Coccoloba uvifera (Linnaeus, 1753) - sea grape (Plantae, Angiospermophyta, Caryophyllales, Polygonaceae) a little inland from “The Cliffs” shoreline outcrops, between Hatchet Bay & James Cistern, north-central Eleuthera Island, east-central Bahamas.  Sea grapes are shrubs or trees having deep green-colored, subcircular leaves, often with reddish-colored midrib veination.  The fruits are clusters of grape-like structures.  This plant is common in back-beach and other near-shoreline settings.  Its root systems are effective in slowing or preventing erosion of unconsolidated sand substrates.  It occurs in subtropical to tropical shoreline environments in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico areas.




Coccothrinax argentata (Jacquin, 1801) - silver thatch palms (Plantae, Angiospermophyta, Arecales, Arecaceae/Palmae).  Above left: near Sandy Point, southwestern corner of San Salvador Island, eastern Bahamas.  Above right: near Sand Dollar Beach and Rocky Point, northwestern corner of San Salvador Island, eastern Bahamas.

Silver thatch palm trees have relatively thin, subcylindrical trunks that can reach 5 to 10 meters tall.  The crown consists of several fans (leaf blades) of highly elongated leaf segments that radiate outward from the leaf stalk.  This slow-growing palm tree occurs in coastal limestone and limestone soil settings on some Caribbean islands and in parts of Florida and Mexico.



Cocos nucifera Linnaeus, 1753 (above & below) - coconut palms (Plantae, Angiospermophyta, Arecales, Arecaceae/Palmae) just south of North Twin Coves Cliffs, north-central Eleuthera Island, east-central Bahamas.  Coconuts are only produced by this species of palm tree.  Coconut palm trees are widespread along and near most tropical to subtropical, Old World and New World and Oceanic coastlines.  They appear to have originated in the western and southwestern Pacific.  The Bahamian examples shown above & below are not native to the Bahamas - they were introduced to the Caribbean area by Europeans four to five centuries ago.

Coconut trees consist have moderate thick, mostly subcylindrical, linear to curvilinear, upright to tilted trunks.  The crown consists of several, very long, highly segmented leaf blades.  Leaf blade segments arise from a very prominent midrib.  Coconuts are the fruit of this tree.  They are large, irregularly rounded, and green to yellowish-brown to brown in color, depending on the degree of ripeness.



Rhizophora mangle Linnaeus, 1753 (above & below) - red mangrove (Plantae, Angiospermophyta, Rhizophorales, Rhizophoraceae) along the northern shore of North Pigeon Creek Estuary, southeastern San Salvador Island, eastern Bahamas.

The red mangrove principally lives in sheltered estuaries with its roots in and often submerged by marine water.  Most angiosperms cannot tolerate such saline conditions.  The plant’s vascular tissues transport nutrients and water throughout the plant, as do all vascular plants.  The transported water is, of course, quite salty.  This salt is not needed by the organism.  The red mangrove concentrates the salt into a few leaves, which turn yellow (see below).  Eventually, the yellow, salt-rich leaf detaches and falls into the water.  These leaves essentially act as kidneys for the whole plant.

See videos (video 1; video 2) of mangroves in South Pigeon Creek estuary (same island).



Rhizophora mangle Linnaeus, 1753 - leaves of the red mangrove.  The yellow leaf is a “kidney leaf” (see explanation above), where the plant concentrates unneeded salt.




Casuarina equisetifolia Linnaeus, 1759 (above & below) - ironwood (Plantae, Angiospermophyta, Fagales, Casuarinaceae) along Graham’s Harbour beach, northern margin of San Salvador Island, eastern Bahamas.  Superficially, these trees appear to be pine trees/conifers.  But they’re not - they’re angiosperms (flowering plants).

The specimens shown above & below are not native to the Bahamas.  Ironwood occurs naturally in parts of southeastern Asia, Australia, and on many islands in the southwestern Pacific Basin.  Ironwood was introduced to the Bahamas a couple centuries ago by the British as windbreaks between adjacent plantations.  Casuarina has rapidly invaded much land in the Bahamas - its seeds are very mobile and indestructible in seawater.

It has been recently determined that Casuarina causes beach erosion, despite the perception that its roots prevent beach erosion.  Casaurina shades out low-lying, native, back-beach vegetation.  Its root systems are also toxic to native Bahamas back-beach floras.  After the sub-Casuarina vegetation dies and disappears, back-beach sand dunes get blown away, resulting in beach erosion.

Casuarina is a much-favored shade tree in the Bahamas, so there’s been much resistance and skepticism by Bahamians about the detrimental aspects of the trees along shorelines.

Observations have indicated that, after storm damage, beaches rapidly re-establish themselves with normal native vegetation (without replanting, even) in the absence of Casuarina.  No chronic beach erosion has been observed in the Bahamas except those beaches with Casuarina.  Experimental removal of Casuarina from some shorelines has resulted in cessation of beach erosion and the natural replenishment of sandy beaches.

(most info. from Neil Sealey)



Populus tremuloides Michaux, 1803 - quaking aspen (Plantae, Angiospermophyta, Malpighiales, Salicaceae) in Rocky Mountains National Park, northern Colorado, USA.  Quaking aspens are subalpine trees in the mountainous terrains of western North America.  The common name “quaking” refers to the shaking or fluttering of the tree’s leaves in breezes.  In this species, the petiole (= “stem” leading to a leaf) is flattened.  The flattened surface catches even slight air movements, resulting in the leaves “trembling” or “quaking”.  This plant principally propagates by spreading out lateral root systems.  Entire groves of quaking aspens have been found to have identical DNA fingerprints - they're all “twins”, or “clones” of each other.



Castilleja miniata Hooker, 1838 - giant red paintbrush (Plantae, Angiospermophyta, Lamiales, Orobranchaceae) in Rocky Mountains National Park, northern Colorado, USA.  This colorful plant occurs in foothill to subalpine environments of western North America.  Giant red paintbrushes are partially parasitic and obtain nutrients from the root systems of nearby plants.

Info. summarized from Mammoser & Tekiela (2007).



Potentilla rubricaulis Lehmann, 1830 - Rocky Mountain cinquefoil (Plantae, Angiospermophyta, Rosales, Rosaceae) in Rocky Mountains National Park, northern Colorado, USA.



Cannabis sativa Linnaeus, 1753 - marijuana plant (Plantae, Angiospermophyta, Rosales, Cannabaceae).  This famous, psychoactive plant is native to central Asia, but has been extensively cultivated, resulting in a near-worldwide distribution.  This escaped individual is growing along a railroad track at Putnam Hill in Zanesville, Ohio, USA.




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