• Ultraviolet Photography

Larrea tridentata [Creosote Bush]

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#1 Andrea B.

    Desert Dancer

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Posted 29 June 2013 - 02:44

Blum, A.G. (2013) Larrea tridentata (de Candolle) Colville (Zygophyllaceae) Creosote Bush. Flowers photographed in visible and ultraviolet light. http://www.ultraviol...-creosote-bush/

Death Valley National Park, California, USA
29 February 2012

  • Greasewood
  • Chaparral
  • Gobernadora
  • Hediondilla
Creosote Bush's extreme drought tolerance contributes to its presence everywhere in the Mohave and Sonoran deserts. It may look dead after going without rainfall for a couple of years, but pops back into leaf and bloom after rain finally comes. The plant gives off a resinous scent, but the designation 'cresote' is a bit of a misnomer because it does not smell all that bad! At least I did not think so.

Originally it was thought that an L. tridentata plant ensured its survival by supressing potential offspring via the secretion of a germination inhibitor around itself. (2) Now it is thought that an adult Creosote Bush simply hogs the water using its well-developed, shallow root system so that young undeveloped plantlets die of thirst.(3) Either way, when you are at a high elevation looking down, you will see the Creosote Bushes spaced well apart from one another.

Because the plant's new growth is generated on the periphery of its shallow root system while the center dies out, eventually one plant will become a huge circular colony of multiple, cloned plants.(2) Such colonies can be very old. Wikipedia documents a Creosote Bush circle in the Mohave which has been carbon-dated at 11,700 years old.(3)

An additional protection is offered by L. tridentata's resinous sap which animals do not enjoy. Thus Creosote Bushes do not get grazed or nibbled.

1. Jepson eFlora (2013) L. tridentata (DC.) Coville. Jepson Herbarium, U. of California-Berkeley, Berkeley, CA. http://ucjeps.berkel...JM.pl?tid=30255
2. Morhardt, S. & E. (2004) Larrea tridentata, page 266. California Desert Flowers. The U. of Cal. Press, Berkeley, CA.
3. Wikipedia (2013) Larrea tridentata. https://en.wikipedia...rea_tridentata.

Equipment [Nikon D300-broadband + Nikon 105mm f/4.5 UV-Nikkor]

Visible Light [f/4.8 for 1/3000" @ ISO 200 in Sunlight with Baader UVIR-Block Filter]
Attached Image: larreaTridentataVisSun02292012deathValleyNpCA_34361origProofPn.jpg

Visible Light [f/11 for 1/500" @ ISO 800 in Sunlight with Baader UVIR-Block Filter]
Attached Image: larreaTridentataVisSun022912deathValleyNpCA_22181origProofPnCrop.jpg

Ultraviolet Light [f/2 2for 1/60" @ ISO 800 with SB-14 UV-modified Flash and Baader UV-Pass Filter]
Attached Image: larreaTridentataUVBaadSun022912deathValleyNpCA_22207origProofPnCrop.jpg
Andrea G. Blum
Often found hanging out with flowers & bees.