Ghost Flower (Mohavea confertiflora)

Photo Courtesy of Don Davis

Ghost Flower (Mohavea confertiflora)

Mohavea confertiflora, the Ghost Flower, is a plant of the family Plantaginaceae. It is a native of the Southwestern United States, southern California, and Northwest Mexico.

It is found growing in the arid conditions of the Mojave Desert and the Sonoran Desert (including Colorado Desert), below 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) in elevation. It also grows in those deserts’ sky islands habitats.

Mohavea confertiflora flowers March to April. This flower, which does not produce nectar, has adapted a morphology resembling the flower Mentzelia involucrata, which often grows in the same habitat. Mentzelia involucrata produces nectar to attract female bees of the genus Xeralictus.

In areas where their ranges overlap, Mohavea confertifolia attracts the same pollinators to its flowers through floral mimicry: Mohavea flowers contain marks that resemble female Xeralictus; these marks operate as a sign stimulus to the male bee, which enters the flower and in doing so pollinates the Mohavea.

About the author

Jim Mattern

Jim is a scapegoat for the NPS, an author, adventurer, photographer, radio personality, guide, and location scout. His interests lie in Native American and cultural sites, ghost towns, mines, and natural wonders in the American Deserts.