It is commonly observed that nature is extremely strange. The naked eyes sometimes nonplus the human beings. In North America, the flower Pholisma Sonorae is the most bizarre wildflower normally known as sand food. Pholisma Sonorae normally grows out of sand dunes, with fleshy stems. The flower stretch two meters below the surface and emerges above a small rounded or ovate form.
Therefore, if adequate sand is blown away, the upper part of the stem may get exposed and looks like a mushroom. However, in the spring season, the round head bears small centimeter wide flowers which are purple to pink in colors with white margins.
Pholisma sonorae is a rare and unusual species of a flowering plant. It is endemic to the Sonoran Deserts to the west of Yuma, Arizona in the California Yuha and the Colorado Desert, and south in the Yuma Desert. Here it is known from only a few locations. The flower lacks chlorophyll to survive and joins the roots of numerous desert shrubs to get nutrients.
Although, the primary host plants do not suffer to be depleted by Pholisma infestation. Even in many cases, the Pholisma plant’s weight is more than primary plants. So, naked eyes are extremely puzzled when seeing this natural wonder of nature. Hence, it is extremely remarkable when the seedlings of these strange root parasites are even able to find the host root buried deep in the sand.
Pholisma sonorae is an extremely rare wonder of nature and is only found in a few locations in the Algodones Dunes of southeastern California and nearby Arizona, and in the sand dunes of El Gran Desierto in Sonora, Mexico. The Native American tribes used to eat their fleshy stem, either raw or roasted over a campfire including the Cocopah and the Hia C-ed O’odham.
A close resemble species is Pholisma Arenarium. It has the same parasitic behavior and does this by sending out pilot roots, about two feet below the sand surface. However, when they reach the vicinity of a host shrub. The pilot roots send out special “haustorial roots” that generally connect and penetrate the host root.
Moreover, the haustorial connection absorbs carbohydrates and amino acids generated by the photosynthetic host shrub. So, the plant may be assisted by other factors. Such frequently shifting sand dunes support the seeds to travel further down into the sand. Or even they may be carried by harvester ants and by rodents that burrow into the dunes under host shrubs.
With the passage of time urban development restricts the plant. And it’s declining their habitats of shifting dune sands and lost to development and damaged by off-road vehicle use.