Despite the muggy heat, the bugs, the snakes, and the almost daily thunderstorms, my favorite time of the year to go wildflower hunting here in southern Arizona is in the mid to late summer and the very early fall. Many of our most interesting and unique native species bloom at this time in response to our summer monsoon rains, such as this Hairy Fournwort (Tetramerium nervosum).
I was only able to get a few photos of this flower before dangerously close lightning from one of our monsoon thunderstorms drove me back into my car. The same afternoon storms that encourage summer wildflowers can unfortunately make them difficult to photograph unless you do it in the morning.
Hairy Fournworts have hairy, four-sided flower spikes composed of leafy bracts. The tubular flowers have a purple-marked upper lobe, two side lobes, and a rolled, projecting lower lobe. The leaves are lance-shaped and in pairs.
Hairy Fournworts are in the Acanthus Family (Acanthaceae), a primarily tropical family, and although most Hairy Fournworts are found south of the Mexican border, these subshrubs can also be found in southern Arizona, New Mexico, and southwestern Texas.