Gardening sheet caulanthus inflatus

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  • 1. *Desert Candle – Caulanthus inflatus (kaw-LAN-thus in-FLAY-tus) Family: Brassicaceae (Mustard Family) Native to: Most common in Mojave Desert, Antelope Valley. Also in Sierra foothills, Transverse Ranges of S. CA; open sandy plains and washes/slopes in creosote bush scrub, valley grassland and joshua tree woodland communities between 2000' and 5000' elevation. Growth characteristics: annual wildflower mature height: 1-2 ft. mature width: 1-2 ft. Unusual herbaceous annual with erect habit. Conspicuous hollow, swollen yellow stem makes it look like a candle – hence the common name. Leaves basal, 2-3 inches long. Blooms/fruits: Blooms in spring – anytime from Mar. to May depending on precipitation. Flowers occur along the inflated stem – clustered particularly at the top, which is typical for Mustard Family. Flowers are small, with four reddish-purple sepals and whitish petals. Plant is really unique. Fruit is a dry, elongated ‘pod’ that splits when dry, releasing seeds. Uses in the garden: Most often used in desert-themed gardens, but appropriate for others. Makes a unique specimen plant in containers or in beds. Very showy en mass, as it often occurs in nature. Nice upright accent in a garden featuring blue, purple of pink-red flowers. Excellent for insect pollinators such as native bees, pollinator flies and others. Young stems are edible (cooked). Sensible substitute for: Non-native annuals. Attracts: Excellent pollinator & bird habitat: provides nectar, pollen and seeds for food. Requirements: Element Requirement Sun Full sun. Soil Well-drained – sandy or rocky best; any local pH. Water Needs good winter/spring water; supplement if needed. Taper off when buds show. Fertilizer None. Other None or gravel mulch. Management: Difficult to germinate, but may re-seed just fine. Propagation: from seed: ? needs smoke treatment with stored seeds. Plant/seed sources (see list for source numbers): 16, 19, 30, 38, 46 1/1/14 © Project SOUND