It's a great year for wildflowers

Photo provided Narrow-leafed phacelia, Phacelia linearis, are less than an inch in size and are lovely to view above Comb's Canyon Road.

Photo provided Narrow-leafed phacelia, Phacelia linearis, are less than an inch in size and are lovely to view above Comb's Canyon Road.

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The hills and desert of Northern Nevada are alive with magnificent wildflowers. Earlier in the year, Death Valley was awash in color and now it is our turn to view spectacular displays of colorful flowers, some unseen in decades.

The winter rains have given us amazing numbers of flowers. Brown's peony, Paeonia brownii, named after Paeon, physician to the Greek gods, grows in dry forest openings on slopes. It is common in low elevations and thrives after fire. This lovely burgundy and yellow perennial sprouts from fleshy roots. It is found in northern and central California, north to British Columbia, and east through Nevada and Wyoming. Take a walk behind Western Nevada Community College to see thousands of flowering Brown's peonies.

Single-stemmed groundsel, Senecio intergerrimus, is blooming yellow on surrounding hillsides. Sometimes called butterweed, it grows 8 inches to 24 inches tall on grassy flats, meadows, and slopes up to 9,000 feet. It is a member of the sunflower or aster family.

Narrow-leafed phacelia, Phacelia linearis, has pale lavender flowers with yellowish-cream to white throats less than an inch in size, but they are lovely to view above Comb's Canyon Road. On U.S. Highway 50 East before Lahontan Reservoir, there are masses of white-stemmed evening primrose, Oenothera pallida; desert evening primrose, Oenothera caespitosa; and golden gilia, Phacelia adenophora.

Many more flowers are blooming now and will be blooming throughout the summer. Look for penstemon, daisy, balsamroot, lupines, larkspur, and blue-eyed Mary. Fivespot, Nemophilia maculata, is a delicate white five-petaled flower with purple-blue spots on the tips of each petal. Baby blue eyes, Indian paintbrush, asters, Mariposa lilies, and corn lilies are also appearing.

This is a great year for wildflowers. Some excellent flower guidebooks are available to help you identify them. A few good ones are "Sierra Nevada Wildflowers," by E. Horn; "Sagebrush Country," by R. Taylor; and "Plants of the Tahoe Basin," by M. Graf.

For gardening information, contact me, 887-2252 or, or your local University of Nevada Cooperative Extension office. Check out many useful horticulture publications at "Ask a Master Gardener" by e-mailing

- JoAnne Skelly is the Carson City / Storey County Extension Educator for University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.

Watering pines

Please join us 9-11 a.m. each Saturday to water newly planted Jeffrey pines on a burned site in Lakeview off of Sandy Circle. Bring watering cans and wear sturdy shoes. For directions to the site or to learn about other volunteer opportunities to restore land burned by the Waterfall Fire, call University of Nevada Cooperative Extension in Carson City, 887-2252.


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