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Desert Trumpet (Eriogonum inflatum)
Perennial Forbs Around Las Vegas, Vegetation Around Las Vegas
Desert Trumpet (Eriogonum inflatum)

General: Desert Trumpet (Eriogonum inflatum) is a biannual forb with a small basal rosette of thick, dark green leaves, a single erect main stem to about 18-inches tall, and many terminal branches. The top of the main stem is greatly inflated; other nodes are slightly inflated. The terminal branchlets are thin and wispy. Flowers hang from the terminal branchlets.

Desert Trumpet is a common component of vegetation communities in dry, well-drained sandy and gravelly areas on desert flats, bajadas, and moderate slopes in the lower mountains in the Lower Sonoran (Creosote-Bursage Flats) and Upper Sonoran (Mojave Desert Scrub and Pinyon-Juniper Woodland) life zones.

Family: Buckwheat (Polygonaceae).

Desert Trumpet (Eriogonum inflatum)

Other Names:

Plant Form: Biannual forb. In the first year, only a basal rosette of leaves; in the second year, produces a single main stem with many terminal branches and many tiny flowers.

Height: Flowering stalk to about 3 feet.

Stems: Narrow, swollen below nodes, especially the top of the main stem.

Leaves: Basal rosette: blades to about 2-inches long, oblong, coarsely hairy.

Desert Trumpet (Eriogonum inflatum)

Flowers: Blooms in the spring, also sporadically throughout the summer and fall in response to rain. Inflorescence: many slender branches, upright and spreading. Flowers tiny, oblong, 1–3 mm, yellow; hanging from terminal stems.

Seeds: Achene; small (2 mm).

Habitat: Dry, well-drained sandy and gravelly on desert flats, bajadas, and moderate slopes in the lower mountains.

Elevation: Below sea level to 6,500 feet.

Distribution: California to Colorado and New Mexico, south into northwestern Mexico.

Desert Trumpet (Eriogonum inflatum) Comments: To me, the most interesting thing about this plant is that certain species of wasps chew holes near the top of in the inflated part of the stem and lay their eggs inside where they, presumably, are safe from predators. One species of wasp that lives around Joshua Tree National Park even fills the bottom of the hollow stem with grains of sand to build a flat platform on which to lay its eggs. Watch for small, round holes in the stem (see photo), and if you are in southern California deserts, check inside for sand.
Desert Trumpet (Eriogonum inflatum)
Wasp nest hole
Desert Trumpet (Eriogonum inflatum)
Wasp nest hole
   
Desert Trumpet (Eriogonum inflatum)
Inside wasp nest hole; note cottony web material
Desert Trumpet (Eriogonum inflatum)
Inside wasp nest hole; note cottony web material
Desert Trumpet (Eriogonum inflatum)
Wasp nest hole
Desert Trumpet (Eriogonum inflatum)
Wasp nest hole
Desert Trumpet (Eriogonum inflatum)
Inside wasp nest hole; note cottony web material
Desert Trumpet (Eriogonum inflatum)

Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate. Names generally follow the USDA database.
copyright; Last updated 150105

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