On Desert Explosions…

Almost 75 years ago an explosion occurred in the New Mexico desert that had ramifications for the end of World War II, for relationships between countries to this day, and for our way of life in power production today and in the future.

Nuclear test explosions in the western deserts occurred in the decades following World War II.

Today’s explosions are of a different variety as wildflowers silently unveil a multitude of color and form in desert environments both remote and next door to bustling urban centers. Let’s look at the second type of explosion which does not occur every year but when it does, carries more sensory stimulus than any manmade attempt to control nature. Nevada’s state wildflower is the Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentate) and to non-desert people, the name conjures up dry, windy plains with non-descript blue-gray bushes and it is anything but that.

The lowly Sagebrush as most of us see it.
As Fall approaches and the desert monsoons move inward, the sagebrush glows in renewed blooming enthusiasm.
The Sagebrush leaves are interesting in their own right. We just have to get past that first impression of dull gray. Can’t you almost smell the Sagebrush fragrance?

What about those wildflower explosions? Most occur in Spring after a Fall heavy rain although a few noted exceptions occur every few years after an especially heavy soaking and for a week the desert blooms in an explosion of color.

Not as explosive as some California desert scenes but breathtaking none the less.

Does Nevada have unique desert wildflowers? Sure it does and here are a few of my favorites.

We saw a white Beardtongue in the Nebraska prairie and here is a Nevada desert variety.
The intriguing Mountain Mahogany is actually a member of the Rose family.
The Nevada Arnica or Mountain Tobacco is a member of the Sunflower family and has soft, hairy blossoms and leaves.

Wow! Wouldn’t it be neat to do nothing in life but to travel and discover new wildflowers in bloom? Now we scamper East to the first of our “New” states – New Hampshire – where a well-recognized, fragrant blossom awaits our inspection. Come back tomorrow!

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