Saturday, December 12, 2009


Last weekend I joined my friends Jean and Phyllis on a trek to gather desert birdcages. We found them in a wash, way out in Wonder Valley. What are they, you may ask? So did I--that's why I went along!

The story is this: the plant is called the dune primrose. In spring it has beautiful, showy white flowers. Here's what it looks like, growing next to some equally beautiful sand verbena. (Thanks to Phyllis for this photo!)

While the flower stalk is upright, the plant also has many branches that radiate outwards along the ground. When the plant dries up, those branches curve upwards around the central stalk, forming the birdcage. (I've read it's also called a "desert lantern").

Here are some birdcages in their native habitat. We gathered a carload of them, along with some interesting rocks and some palm fronds from back in 29 Palms. We had all been at the 29 Palms Art Gallery earlier that morning for the annual Xmas Crafts Show. Thanks to Jean and Phyllis for a great day!