Photography by R.A. Pleuger, ID texts via Kerri Tuttle in Comments.
Paper bag bush – Salazaria Mexicana. Twiggy, grey-green and somewhat thorny, this plant is easily recognized by the small paper-bags that form from the plant’s sepals during and after flowering. While the plant is in flower, the bags are warm pink, and subtend the flowers, while after flowering is complete, they dry and form a tough, papery “capsule” around the developing nutlets. When the bags eventually fall off, they are blown along the ground by the wind, dispersing them and the seeds. These plants are typically found in exposed areas and drainages, typically where the plant’s sepal-bags can catch and germinate.
We still need ID help on this one.
Desert trumpet – Eriogonum inflatum. The swollen stem is due to high concentrations of carbon dioxide in the solid stem and seems to be related to gas regulation. Some insects utilize the swollen stem as a larder, but the inflation is not caused by the larval feeding of gall insects. Native American tribes (most commonly Paiute) would remove the stalk of E. inflatum at the base, and then cut the inflated bulb in half, producing a makeshift pipe for a mixture of Indian Tobacco and Mistletoe smoked primarily for leisure purposes.
Desert senna – Senna covesii. Also known as Rattleweed or “rattlebox,” this plant is found on desert plains and in sandy washes. Flowers are “buzz-pollinated.” When Carpenter Bees and bumblebees come to the flowers, they vibrate their wing muscles, creating a relatively loud buzzing sound, and the high intensity vibration shakes pollen out of the anthers and onto the bees. Carpenter Bees have special hairs that “catch” the pollen, and then the bees transport the pollen to other desert sennas for pollination.
This is an unknown bush covered in bright orange dodder – Cuscuta genus. Bright orange dodder is a parasitic plant with many nicknames, including Love Vine, Witches’ Shoelaces, Hairweed, and Devilguts. It grows from seed and sprouts from the ground like any other plant, but immediately reaches its stem, looking for a host plant to latch onto. The Dodder seedling can survive for about 10 days. If it doesn’t attach to a host plant in this time, it will die. Once the Dodder seedling finds a host plant, it quickly twines itself around the plant’s stem in a counter-clockwise direction and loses its connection to the ground, becoming 100% dependent on the host plant. Dodder survives by little bumps on its stem, called “haustoria.” Since Dodder wraps so tightly around its host, the haustoria are pressed up agains the host plant’s stem, eventually pushing their way into the stem. Through its haustoria, Dodder extracts nutrients that it needs to survive, from the host plant. Dodder rarely kills its host plant, although it will stunt its growth.