|Straight cinnamon-white thorns around a red-brown stem of a Deadman's Creek woods' rose|
Today, Deadman's Creek is alive, considering its animal and plant life and all the hikers, who come to climb uphill to the gazebo and enjoy the panoramic views of Washoe Lake and the Carson Range. The riparian section of Deadman's Creek Trail is an interpretive nature path introducing visitors to common desert plants of Nevada and some animals frequenting the Virginia Range foothills of Washoe Lake State Park. In the following, you will find the trailside text of some of the signs describing the local flora and fauna and giving hints what to watch. Early spring is typically the best time to see wild flowers such as phlox covering the ground around the gazebo. Detailed trail descriptions are available online [1-3].
Wild Rose (Rosa woodsia)
Wild Rose (Rosa woodsia) is a shrub that can grow up to six feet tall. It has small, fragrant flowers, but watch out for the thorns!
Local Native American tribes used this plant in many different ways. Its seeds were cooked and eaten for muscular pain, young shoots and rose hips were brewed into a tea rich in vitamins A and C, and the older branches were to make arrow shafts.I didn't find other references to Rosa woodsia. I think the current scientific name is Rosa woodsii (a species of the family Rosaceae), also known by the common name Woods' rose. Between willow branches, I zoomed in on a wild-rose stem lined with thorns, shown in the top picture.
Mormon Tea (Ephedra viridis)
Mormon Tea (Ephedra viridis) is easily identified by its bright green, apparently leafless stems (it actually does have tiny, scale-like leaves). It can grow up to 4 feet high. Mormon Tea is found across Nevada and throughout arid areas of the Southwest.Mormon tea, also known as Indian tea and green ephedra, belongs to the genus Ephedra, the only genus in the plant family Ephedraceae.
This plant was widely used by Native American and pioneers alike for its variety of medicinal properties.
|Mormon tea: curtains of nearly aligned yellowish-green stems|
Big Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata)
Big Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) is Nevada's state flower and a familiar sight for anyone in the Southwest. It is easily identified by its silvery three-lobed leaves.The silvery-leaved state flower of the Silver State belongs to the sunflower family (Asteraceae).
Big Sagebrush blooms in late summer and fall with tiny yellow flowers.
Native Americans had many uses for this plant: rope and clothing were woven from the stringy bark and leaves were brewed into a medicinal tea.
Bitterbrush (Pursia tridentata)
Bitterbrush (Pursia tridentata) covers tens of millions of acres and remains one of the most ubiquitous shrubs, next to sagebrush. It can be found in a variety of habitats, ranging from arid flats to alpine zones well above timberline.Bitterbrush belongs to the rose family (Rosaceae).
During the spring, these shrubs are covered with spice, almost “cinnamon”-scentedyellow flowers (Great Basin Wildflowers).
Bitterbrush is an important browse species for Mule Deer.
Rubber Rabbitbrush (Ericameria nauseosus)
Rubber Rabbitbrush (Ericameria nauseosus) is common throughout the Great Basin. It is a gray-green shrub that blooms late summer and fall with golden yellow flowers. When a piece of the plant's leaves are crushed, it emits a strong odor. The plant's common name refers to its high latex content. It is one of the first plants to grow back after a fire.Rubber rabbitbrush, also known as gray rabbitbrush, belongs to the sunflower family (Asteraceae). This species is also known as gray rabbitbrush. And indeed, after brightening the desert landscape with its full yellow bloom in late summer and fall, rabbitbrush transforms into a bunch of thin, gray stems and branches.
|One shade of gray: rabbitbrush stems and branches in winter pressed down by the weight of a recent snow blanket|
Stinging Nettles (Urtica dioica)
Stinging Nettles (Urtica dioica) have long, toothed leaves and are found near water. When touched with bare skin, these plants produce a painful rash. Keep an eye out for these plants along the creek side of the trail. The young leaves of this plant are edible when boiled, however, wild plants should not be eaten unless the consumer is positive it is non-poisonous.The stinging nettle is a member of the nettle family (Urticaceae).
Snakes and other reptiles are frequently seen on this trail. Some common reptiles in the area include: western fence lizards, desert horned lizards, striped racers, Great Basin rattlesnakes, and Great Basin gopher snakes. The Great Basin rattlesnake is venomous and should be observed from a safe distance. Please view all wildlife from a distance and leave them undisturbed.
Many different species of birds, such as Black-billed Magpies and Great Horned Owls, have been known to nest in the willows and cottonwoods surrounding the lake. Some common birds that can be seen in this area are Red-tailed Hawks, California Quail, and Turkey Vultures.
|Lichen on the rocks near the rock shelter alongside upper Deadman's Creek Trail|
References and more to explore Rich Moreno: Washoe Valley's Deadman's Creek Trail. Backyard Traveler, January 5, 2007. Link: backyardtraveler.blogspot.com/2007/01/washoe-valleys-deadmans-creek-trail.html.
 Hiking Deadman's Creek Trail. NewToReno.com. Link: newtoreno.com/hiking-deadmans-creek-trail-nevada.htm.
 Sam Bauman: On the Trail with Sam Bauman: Dead Man's Creek trail offers easy hike, views of Washoe Valley. Lahontan Valley News, May 13, 2010. Link: www.nevadaappeal.com/news/on-the-trail-with-sam-bauman-dead-mans-creek-trail-offers-easy-hike-views-of-washoe-valley/.