A wide variety of species await the visitor from the lower sagebrush community, through the pinyon-juniper woodland and up to the oak transition zone. Individual species differ in number each year according to rainfall and weather conditions micro-ecosystems abound as topography offers a wide gamut of growing conditions. Tall south-facing sandstone cliffs offer protection and warmth allowing the opportunity to discover flowering plants year-round. Seep and springs encircled by rock bluffs protect lush fern gardens.
The desert annuals have adapted to the arid environment through a series of different strategies. Many plants, including wildflowers like the hairy goldenaster, have small leaves to reduce the amount of transpiration with “hairs” to interrupt wind flow and shade the leaf’s surface. Other flowering plants like the desert four o’clock have developed thick, waxy coverings on the leaves and stems to reduce the amount of water loss.
Flowers bloom during the wetter spring and fall seasons and avoid the summer heat and drought. Using another strategy, some plants like evening primrose, often seen along Rim Rock Drive, bloom during the cooler evenings and nights and are pollinated by night flying insects such as moths.