Brassicaceae (Cruciferae) (Mustard Family)
Mostly annual or perennial herbs, locally shrubby plants. Some have glaucous foliage, as in the cabbage group. Flowers are usually small and arranged in terminal spikes or racemes. There are four sepals, and four petals spreading in the form of a cross — hence the name Cruciferae . Ovaries are usually two-celled pods (capsules), each with a thin partition between the outer walls (valves). When pods are mature, the valves separate,
allowing the seeds to fall. It is not unusual to find only the tissuelike partitions left on the stem. Mature pods are more important than the flowers in identification. The long, narrow form is called a silique and the short form a silicle — not much longer than wide.
This is a large family that includes the cultivated cabbage, broccoli, radish, and mustard.
Arabis holboelliiHornem. Holboell Rock Cress. (Plate 6.43) An erect perennial or biennial with one or several stems 6–30 in (1.5–7.3 dm) high. The lower stems are clothed with closely set leaves. Plants are grayish green and densely coated with fine, branched hairs. Basal leaves are oblanceolate or slender spatulate, narrowing to a slender stem, 1/2–2 in (1.3–5 cm) long in all. Those on the stem are linear to arrow-shaped and eared at the base except in the following varieties. Siliques are up to 3 in (7.5 cm) long. Flower: Petals white to pink. There are three varieties of this species:
Var.pendulocarpa(A. Nels.) Rollins. The stems are only 4–8 in (1–2 dm) tall, and the stem leaves lack ears at the base. Siliques hang downward.
Distribution. May be limited to limestone; Pinyon-juniper Woodland to Alpine Zone, 9,000–12,100 ft (2,744–3,689 m).
Var.pinetorumTides. The branched hairs are coarser in this variety. Siliques are commonly curved, arching downward.
Distribution. Apparently restricted to areas of granitic and volcanic rock; Pinyon-juniper Woodland and Subalpine Zone, 7,500–10,000 ft (2,287–3,049 m).
Var.retrofracta(Graham) Rydb. This variety tends to have sturdy lower stems. Siliques are straight, on pedicels that abruptly bend downward so that they hang close to the stem.
Distribution. May not tolerate limestone soil; Desert Scrub to Subalpine Zone, 5,900–11,000 ft (1,799–3,353 m).
Arabis inyoensisRollins. Inyo Rock Cress. Perennial with slender stems, 8–12 in (2–3 dm) long, from a branching root crown. The leaves are about 1 in long, narrowly spatulate or oblanceolate, coated with fine, branched hairs, and tufted at the base. Siliques are mostly 1 1/2–2 in (4–5 cm) long, ascending or spreading on pedicels 1/4–1/2 in (6–13 mm) long. Flower: Pink to purplish.
Distribution. Common on limestone; Pinyon-juniper Woodland to Alpine Zone, 7,000–12,500 ft (2,134–3,811 m).
Arabis lemmoniiWatson var. lemmonii.Lemmon Rock Cress. A perennial similar to A. inyoensis but a smaller plant. Stems are 2.5–8 in (6.4–20 cm) high, and siliques are usually spreading or ascending on one side of the stem. Pedicels are short, only 2/16–3/16 in (3–5 mm) long. Flower: Pink to purple.
Distribution. Open, rocky places; Pinyon-juniper Woodland to Alpine Zone, 8,500–13,800 ft (2,591–4,207 m).
Var. depauperata (A. Nels. & Kennedy) Rollins. Siliques ascending all around the stem. Its range is similar to that of var. lemmonii, but it is less common.
Arabis pulchraJones. Prince's Rock Cress. (Plate 6.44) Perennial with green foliage but densely pubescent, with fairly showy flowers. Stems are 8–24 in (2–6 dm) high. Basal leaves are linear to obovate, 1–4 in (2.5–10 cm) long. Those on the stems are linear, are reduced in size, and lack ears or lobes at the base. Two varieties of this species occur in the range:
Var.gracilis. Flowers are 1/4–1/2 in (6–13 mm) long. Pubescence is coarser than A. pulchra and less dense. Pedicels spread or arch downward, and the siliques, 1 1/2–2 in (3.8–5 cm) long, are pendulous. Flower: Red-purple.
Distribution. Relatively widespread but not abundant; Desert Scrub and Pinyon-juniper Woodland, 4,500–8,600 ft (1,372–2,622 m).
Var.munciensisJones. The plant is densely pubescent and less robust than var. gracilis, and the flowers are less than 3/8 in (10 mm) long. Pedicels curve gently downward. Flower: Pink-purple to purple.
Distribution. Uncommon; Desert Scrub to Pinyon-juniper Woodland, 4,500–7,000 ft (1,372–2,134 m).
Caulanthus crassicaulisTorr. Watson. Woolly Caulanthus. (Plate 6.45) A perennial with a stout, inflated stem 1–2 1/2 ft (3–7.5 dm) high. The leaves, tufted at the base, are oblanceolate, irregularly toothed, narrowing to stems longer than the blades, and 2–6 in (5–15 cm) long in all. Only a few leaves occur on the stem. The upper part of the stem bears single flowers. Each has a flask-shaped, white, densely hairy calyx about 1/2 in (13 mm) long, with relatively inconspicuous petals protruding. Siliques are erect or ascending, 4–5 in (10–12 cm) long. This is a handsome and rather unusual plant. Flower: The purplish calyx, covered with white hairs, is more conspicuous than the white-margined purple petals.
Distribution. Mostly in Pinyon-juniper Woodland of the White Mountains and the northern part of the Inyo Mountains; Desert Scrub and Pinyon-juniper Woodland, 6,000–8,000 ft (1,829–2,439 m).
Caulanthus glaucusWatson. Limestone Caulanthus, Cliff Cabbage. (Plate 6.46) A perennial with several slender stems, 12–30 in (3–7.3 dm) tall. Leaves are light green, roundish to oblong, and some individuals lobed at the base; the blades are 2–7 in (5–17 cm) long, on stems about half their length. Leaves are mostly basal; those on the stems are usually narrower. The upper part of the main stem carries single flowers on slender pedicels. The calyx is about 3/8 in (1 cm) long with petals protruding about 1/4 in (6 mm). Siliques are slender, spreading, and 2–4 in (5–10 cm) long. Flower: Calyx is green, commonly purple tinged; petals are greenish yellow.
Distribution. Limited, on limestone cliffs; Desert Scrub and Pinyon-juniper Woodland, 5,500–7,500 ft (1,677–2,287 m).
Caulostramina jaegeri(Rollins) Rollins. Cliff dweller.(Thelypodium jaegeri) (Plate 6.47) Perennial from a tight mass of slender, woody stems packed in cliff crevices. The plant is green and leafy throughout, 4–12 in (1–3 dm) tall, with the inflorescence on the upper part of the stems. Leaves vary in shape but are mostly broadly ovate, 1–2 in (2.5–5 cm) long, on slender stems nearly as long. Flowers are 3/8 in (1 cm) long, with the calyx half the length of the petals. Siliques are 1–2 in (2.5–5 cm) long, becoming spreading and contorted with age. This is a charming plant, one to enjoy in place but too rare to collect. Flower: Petals pale lavender or white with lavender veins.
Distribution. Shaded crevices in limestone cliffs; Inyo Mountains; Pinyon-juniper Woodland, 6,000–9,200 ft (1,829–2,805 m).
Draba californica(Jepson) Rollins & Price. White-flowered Draba. A small perennial with numerous stems 1 1/2–5 in (4–12 cm) high from a tuft of basal leaves. Leaves are spatulate or obovate, coated with many-branched hairs. Flowers are minute but produce an abundance of elliptic silicles up to 3/8 in (1 cm) long. Flower: White.
Distribution. High meadows on dolomite in the White Mountains; Alpine Zone, 11,500–13,000 ft (3,506–3,963 m).
Draba oligospermaHook. White Mountain Draba. (Plate 6.48) A matted dwarf perennial with stems 1/2–4 in (1.3–10 cm) high. Leaves narrowly spatulate to linear, 1/8–1/2 in (6–13 mm) long, tufted on the branches of the spreading root crown. Flowers are minute, but the plump, ovate pods — hardly 1/4 in (6 mm) long — are impressively abundant. Flower: Yellow.
Distribution. Common; open rocky places on limestone; White Mountains; Subalpine and Alpine zones, 8,900–14,250 ft (2,988–4,345 m).
Lepidium fremontiiWatson. Bush Peppergrass, Desert Alyssum. (Plate 6.49) A bushy perennial with a woody base and many branching stems, 8–20 in (2–5 dm) high. Leaves are linear, then divided, 3/4–2 in (2–5 cm) long, well distributed. Flowers are very small but fragrant, and plentiful enough to make an attractive display. Silicles are flat, roundish to ovate, about 1/4 in (6 mm) long. Flower: White.
Distribution. Rocky places, desert gullys and canyons; Desert Scrub, up to 6,000 ft (1,829 m).
Lesquerella kingiiWatson ssp. kingii.Beadpod. (Plate 6.50) A small, silvery-gray perennial with stems 1/2–6 in (1.3–15 cm) long. Blades of basal leaves are ovate to roundish, 1/8–1 in (6–25 mm) long, tapered to stems of about the same length. Those on the flowering stems are narrower. Flowers are about 1/4 in (6 mm) long, and silicles are beadlike, about 1/8 in (3 mm) in diameter. This plant is extremely variable
in size, ranging from compact tufts only 1 in (2.5 cm) across at high elevations to well-developed stems spreading from a basal rosette of leaves, as found in the Pinyon-juniper Woodland. Flower: Bright yellow.
Distribution. Limestone areas; Pinyon-juniper Woodland to Alpine Zone, 7,000–12,000 ft (2,134–3,658 m).
Stanleya elataJones. Prince's Plume. (Plate 6.51) A tall perennial, 2–6 ft (0.6–2 m) high. One or more erect stems rise from a clump of basal leaves. These are large, thick, oblong-ovate, and 4–8 in (1–2 dm) long. Flowering racemes are 6–18 in (15–45 cm) long on the upper portion of the tall stems, like tall yellow plumes. The sepals are petal-like, about 1/4–3/8 in (7.5–10 mm) long. Those on the tall stems make a handsome sight when back-lit by an evening sun as one winds down the canyon roads toward Owens Valley. Flower: Sepals yellow, petals pale yellow.
Distribution. Washes and canyon slopes; Desert Scrub and Pinyon-juniper Woodland, 4,200–8,000 ft (1,280–2,439 m).
Stanleya pinnata(Pursh) Britton var.pinnata.Desert Plume. (Plate 6.52) A perennial 2–4 ft (0.6–1.3 m) high. Its stems are inclined to spread outward, and they are leafy on the lower portion. The leaves, 2–6 or 8 in (5–15 or 20 cm) long, are commonly divided into narrow segments, becoming simple and narrower above. The flowering racemes or "plumes" become 6–20 in (15–48 cm) long and are quite showy. Individual flowers are about 1/2 in (13 mm) long, both sepals and petals spreading, while the prominent stamens remain erect. Flower: Sepals pale yellow, petals bright yellow.
Distribution. Reportedly indicates soil rich in selenium, slopes and washes; Desert Scrub, 4,000–6,000 ft (1,220–1,829 m).
Var.inyoensis(Munz & Ross) Reveal. Inyo Desert Plume. A more robust plant than var. pinnata, , up to 5 ft (1.6 m) high and with a distinctly woody trunk 1 1/2–3 1/2 in (4–8 cm) thick. Flower: Same as var. pinnata .
Distribution. Seepage areas or places of high groundwater, usually somewhat alkaline; Desert Scrub to Pinyon-juniper Woodland, up to nearly 7,500 ft (2,287 m).
Streptanthus cordatusNutt. Pinyon Streptanthus. (Plate 6.53) A short-lived perennial 8–30 in (2–7 dm) high. Basal leaves are spatulate-obovate, usually toothed, and 1–3 in (2.5–8 cm) high, and those on the stem are heart-shaped and clasping. Flowers are above the leaves. The plump sepals are about 1/4 in (6 mm) long, with the less conspicuous petals protruding and curving outward. The entire plant is handsome. Flower: Calyx commonly purple or yellow, petals purple with white margins.
Distribution. Common in Pinyon-juniper Woodland up to Subalpine Zone, 6,000–10,000 ft (1,829–3,049 m).