Arizona Wildflowers — Coursetia
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A couple of weeks ago I was wandering around Sabino Canyon one afternoon and I kept coming across certain small shrubs. The little bushes were only a few feet tall. They were visible all over the place, but particularly on the hillsides and in some of the side canyons. From a distance they appeared to be covered with tiny whitish flowers, about 1/2 by 1/4 inch in size, that were not terribly impressive.
On a whim I decided to take a couple of closeup photos of the flowers. When I bent down to take a good close look I was surprised at how pretty the flowers actually were. They were predominantly cream colored, but there splashes of yellow, red and pink mixed in.
I was quite taken with these little flowers. They weren’t showy but they were delicately beautiful. I had no idea what they were.
When I got home I pulled out the plant guides and began looking. It took a while. There are a lot of shrubs in Arizona that bear white or whitish flowers. Eventually, however, I found it. The plant is Coursetia.
Coursetia is a member of the pea family of plants and like most members of that family, it produces seed pods that contain “peas,” — beanlike seeds. It is a relative of the much more commonly seen mesquite, also a member of the pea family, and its leaves vaguely resemble mesquite leaves. The flowers, however, look nothing like mesquite flowers. Coursetia likes dry, rocky slopes and canyons and it thrives in an environment like Sabino Canyon. It is obviously an extremely tough plant and its toughness is belied by those extraordinary, delicate little flowers.
Images made with a Canon 5DS-R, 180 f3.5L Macro Lens assisted by Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite, stabilized by monopod, M setting. The first image shot at ISO 125, f16 @ 1/160. The second image shot at ISO 160, f16 @ 1/160.