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Eriogonum inflatum

Eriogonum inflatum Torr. & Frém.

 

Desert Trumpet, Indian Pipeweed, Bottle Stopper

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae (from Stearn’s Botanical Latin)
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassCaryophyllidaeCacti, many other succulents, carnivorous plants, and leadworts
OrderCaryophyllalesIncludes cacti, carnations, amaranths, ice plants, and many carnivorous plants
FamilyPolygonaceaeKnotweed or smartweed family
GenusEriogonumFrom Greek erion, “wool,” and gonu, “joint or knee,” for the hairy or woolly joints in the stems of some of these species
Speciesinflatum“Inflated,” for the thickened stem, which stores CO₂

About plant names...

Desert trumpet is native to portions of western North America. I grew up in the northeast and have seen very little of the southwestern desert. When I first glimpsed this plant from the car window in Nevada (photo 3), I was deeply impressed. ”Susie! Stop the car! I walked back a quarter mile to find my ”exotic” plant, and returned, very pleased with myself. Okay, so it isn’t really exotic, but it looked to me like something from another planet.

This table compares desert trumpet to a close relative, kidney-leaf buckwheat.

 

Eriogonum inflatum (Desert Trumpet, Indian Pipeweed, Bottle Stopper)

1 · 2/28/2010 · Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, CA
≈ 11 × 7" (27 × 18 cm)

Eriogonum inflatum (Desert Trumpet, Indian Pipeweed, Bottle Stopper)

2 · 2/28/2010 · Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, CA
≈ 6 × 9" (14 × 22 cm)

  You are here
Eriogonum inflatum

Eriogonum reniforme
Common Name

Desert Trumpet

Kidney-leaf Buckwheat
Plant 2’ high. Less than 2’ high.
Flowers Yellow, about 1/4” across, with greenish or reddish midribs; inconspicuous. Very small, yellow, turning reddish later.
Stem Some stems have inflated regions. Stems are not inflated.
Range/ Zones

Habitats Creosote Bush Scrub, Joshua Tree Woodland, Sagebrush Scrub, Pinyon-Juniper Woodland, between -50 and 6500’ Creosote Bush Scrub, Joshua Tree Woodland, less than 5000’
Type Wild Wild
Occurrence Common Common

 

Identification: This plant grows to about 24" (60 cm) in height. It’s distinguishing characteristic is the inflated stems, which I assumed were for storage of water. Real botanists assumed these expanded regions were galls. Some insects secrete hormones that cause a plant to grow abnormally, producing a house on demand for raising baby bugs. These abnormal growths are called galls. But this isn’t the case either. If the Wikipedia article is right, the expanded areas house carbon dioxide gas, which plays an as-yet unknown role in the plant’s life cycle.

Desert trumpet frequently drops its leaves entirely when it is dry, but the green stems are also capable of photosynthesis, sustaining the plant. The inflation is less likely to occur later in the season. Area natives sometimes made makeshift pipes from the hollow stems, hence the common name indian pipeweed.

Tiny yellow flowers, with greenish or reddish midribs, are easy to miss.

Online References:

Eriogonum inflatum on Wildflowers, Ferns & Trees of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah

Eriogonum inflatum on Wikipedia

Eriogonum inflatum at George and Audrey DeLange's Arizona wildflower site

Eriogonum inflatum on Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants

Eriogonum inflatum on CalPhotos

Eriogonum inflatum on jan.ucc.nau.edu

Eriogonum inflatum at the Mindbird Maps and Books unofficial Mojave National Preserve site

Eriogonum inflatum on eFloras

Eriogonum inflatum (Desert Trumpet, Indian Pipeweed, Bottle Stopper)

3 · 6/4/2009 · NV

Eriogonum inflatum (Desert Trumpet, Indian Pipeweed, Bottle Stopper)

4 · 2/28/2010 · Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, CA
≈ 12 × 8" (31 × 20 cm)

Eriogonum inflatum description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 16 Aug 2013.

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Eriogonum inflatum (Desert Trumpet, Indian Pipeweed, Bottle Stopper)

5 · 2/28/2010 · Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, CA
≈ 5 × 8" (13 × 19 cm)

Eriogonum inflatum (Desert Trumpet, Indian Pipeweed, Bottle Stopper)

6 · 2/28/2010 · Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, CA
≈ 3½ × 2½' (1.2 × 0.8 m)

Eriogonum inflatum (Desert Trumpet, Indian Pipeweed, Bottle Stopper)

7 · 2/28/2010 · Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, CA
≈ 6 × 9" (15 × 23 cm)

Range:

About this map...