- Photo: Brian Gersten - www.briangersten.com/wildflowers.html
Hairy (or Hoary) Bowlesia (Bowlesia incana) is one of the first plants that we see coming up in the spring.
This year, as we know has been a very dry fall and winter. Today (February 15) as I write this, we’ve had the first good rain in several months. The water in the creek is said to be flowing again and I’m looking forward to Plant and Bird walks with plants being noticeable.
Hairy (or Hoary) Bowlesia (Bowlesia incana) is one of the first plants that we see coming up in the spring. In a warmer, wetter winter Bowlesia may be present through the winter as well. I haven’t seen it in Sabino Canyon yet this year, but I have a feeling it will be showing up shortly. The desert plants are so resilient and many of them don’t seem to mind waiting for proper conditions to sprout, flower, seed and reproduce.
Look for Hairy Bowlesia in shady, moist places. It’s usually quite common in the dam area. It’s a low growing plant, usually not more than 6-8 inches tall but will trail for up to 2 feet. The leaves are bright green,
opposite, and palmately lobed (divided from a common point, like a hand) with 5 to 9 main lobes. The leaf is the most recognizable part of this plant. The tiny, 5 petaled whitish flowers are borne from the leaf axils. The leaves are gland covered as you can see in the photo.
Hairy Bowlesia is in the Apiaceae, or Parsley family. Some familiar food plants are in this family as well: Parsley, celery, carrots, and cilantro. However, not all the plants in this family are edible. One plant that is in the Apiaceae family is the legendary Conium maculatum or Hemlock. So once again we are cautioned to be careful about eating unknown plants. Best to bring your own lunch when you hike.