There are other, more subtle differences. The first is a different pollination strategy. Though both Creosote and Sagebrush disperse their seeds via wind, Creosote is pollinated by insects, namely- you guessed it- wild bees. (Man, I just love wild bees- they keep turning up everywhere!) And one of the most important of those wild bees is a monolectic bee- Trachusa larrea. This is the 2nd monolectic pollinator we’ve met this trip, and it’s worth noting that if you’re going to go the monolectic route and hedge all your bets on just one flower, Creosote sure seems like a safer bet than the (endangered and very rare) Bear Claw Poppy. I was particularly fortunate this past week in that the Creosote was in full bloom almost everywhere I went- only the 2nd time in a dozen years I’ve been able to time a Mojave trip so well. Wherever I went- St. George, Hurricane, Vegas,
The most famous of these ancient clones, dated to 11,700 years ago, is the Victorville Clone, outside
The third really cool contrast between Creosote and Sagebrush is in how and where it exhibits polyploidy. We’ve talked about the varying levels of polyploidy in different species and subspecies of Sagebrush, (and we also looked at polyploidy in Dandelions - seriously, how cool was that??) and Creosote also exhibits significant polyploidy, but what’s so interesting about polyploidy in Creosote is that it’s almost entirely geographic in occurrence. Everywhere I went last week, wherever I saw Creosote, and for that matter, clear across the Mojave- St. George, Vegas,
And that’s what’s so cool about Creosote- it’s a living snapshot of the world in transition. Of the transition from Ice age to Interglacial flora, with the actual, living pioneers of that transition still present. And of the transition from a single to possibly 3 new future species, with the transitional stages just a day’s drive from each other.