Plant Species of the Borrego Desert: 2009-2010 Blooms: 29 October 2009 to 24 January 2010
This page contains the Detailed Germination, Growth and Bloom Reports From Each Hike, the table giving the number of species and number of plants observed in bloom on each hike, and the List of Species in Bloom On Each Trip, from 28 November 2008 to 28 January 2009. See Plant Species of the Borrego Desert: 2009-2010 Blooms for later reports, and for an introduction to this page.
Detailed Germination, Growth and Bloom Reports From Each Hike
10/29/09: Upper Coyote Canyon at and above Middle Willows. This was a car trip between Terwilliger Valley and Middle Willows, with a hike through and around Middle Willows. Only species seen in bloom below 3000 feet elevation are given in Table 4.
The stars were the fall-blooming yellow Asteraceae. It was a real pleasure to see old friends black-banded rabbitbrush, Chrysothamnus paniculatus; and scale-broom, Lepidospartum squamatum in full bloom. They were joined by a number of goldenbush, Isocoma acradenia; and a handful of Mono ragwort, Senecio flaccidus.
The biggest surprise was to find a single bloom of scarlet monkeyflower, Mimulus cardinalis, at Middle Willows. That species was not even on the plant list for the Borrego Desert!
11/15/09: Lower Willows. Thanks to hiking along Coyote Creek, with its abundant flowing water, and the Santa Catarina Spring area, we found a total of 21 species in bloom, most of them the usual suspects like mulefat, Baccharis salicifolia; and goldenbush, Isocoma acradenia, growing in that moist environment. One spectacular find was black-banded rabbitbrush, Chrysothamnus paniculatus blooming in Coyote Creek just above Lower Willows. We also found climbing milkweed, Sarcostemma cynanchoides ssp. hartwegii, in bloom just west of Santa Catarina Spring.
However, some species were in bloom in drier areas. In Coyote Creek above the Spring, which has no evident water, a number of desert dicoria, Dicoria canescens, were still in bloom. The area near Second Crossing must have gotten a bit of rainfall in the last month or so, since there were over 100 ocotillos in bloom there. Most had only a single or a few flower clusters, and none of them were leafed out. The chuparosa, Justicia californica, also seemed very happy and were blooming along the bypass Jeep Road, aka Boulder Alley.
11/19/09: Culp Valley, Collins Valley, Sheep Canyon. We stopped in Culp Valley on our drive into Borrego Springs to appreciate the wand buckwheat, Eriogonum elongatum, in full bloom, with its wands held high in the air alongside the road.
On our hike to Sheep Canyon, there was a beautiful large field of black-banded rabbitbrush, Chrysothamnus paniculatus, in full bloom at the mouth of Indian Canyon. This would normally have been the highlight of the day bloom-wise, but Sheep Canyon had other ideas.
The lowermost part of Sheep Canyon, up to the Campground, had a number of more coastal species that we had never seen at these low elevations in the Borrego Desert before; I spent much of my time in the canyon with my jaw hanging somewhere near the ground. In particular, it was filled with wand buckwheat in full bloom, as well as California fuchsia, Epilobium canum ssp. latifolium!
11/22/09: Collins Valley, Sheep Canyon. Sheep Canyon continued to surprise above the Campground with more coastal species, including, most improbably, a western sycamore, Platanus racemosa, in full bloom! A number of plants of matchweed, Gutierrezia sarothrae, were in bloom, including one plant with the showiest flowers, with long ligules, that I recall seeing. I had to examine its phyllaries to be sure I was seeing this species.
11/23/09: Elephant Tree Area. RT Hawke reports: The Elephant Tree Loop Trail still had 22 species of plants with flowers. Although most seem to be fading, there are some species (like Fagonia) that are just starting. The leaves of the ocotillo are changing color and starting to drop off. There were fields of Pectis by Split Mt. road, but are now mostly gone. (RT found eight species in addition to the ones listed in the table below which weren't identified to species.)
11/25/09: Box Canyon north of Coyote Creek. Although not a drop of rain has touched Box Canyon itself, three species have a majority of their plants in bloom: matchweed, Gutierrezia sarothrae; Wright's buckwheat, Eriogonum wrightii var. nodosum; and black-banded rabbitbrush, Chrysothamnus paniculatus. Coyote Creek continues to have a number of species in bloom along the creek banks.
11/27/09: Montezuma Grade, Clark Valley, Butler Canyon. Mike Crouse reports that he made two surprising finds: a single plant each of bushy cryptantha, Cryptantha racemosa; and heartleaf sun-cup, Camissonia cardiophylla, in bloom in Culp Valley along S22! In Clark Valley and Butler Canyon, there were abundant chuparosa, bebbia and ocotillo in bloom.
12/1/09: Split Mountain Road south of Ocotillo Wells, Elephant Tree Area. The Split Mountain Road area south of Ocotillo Wells is simply amazing; it is green and full of flowers! The creosote bushes are dense with beautiful dark green foliage, and there are still carpets of chinch-weed, Pectis papposa, as far as the eye can see in places, all from a single thunderstorm on 9/5/09. Although most of the Pectis has finished blooming, there are still many plants that look beautiful, in full bloom.
Farther south, in the alluvial fan below Alma Canyon in the Elephant Tree area, we found a total of 59 species along our route, and an amazing 36 of them, 61%, had at least one plant in bloom, and typically many more. See the list in the table below. Some of the species that were not in bloom had fruit, like the elephant trees and Acacia greggii.
Altogether on this trip, we saw over 1,072 plants of 38 species in bloom. Not bad for early December!
12/5/09: Collins Valley, Cougar Canyon. The fabulous bloom of black-banded rabbitbrush, Chrysothamnus paniculatus, at the mouth of Indian Canyon has begun to fade, although there are still a number of plants in full bloom. Cougar Canyon has good displays of California fuchsia, Epilobium canum.
12/9/09: Split Mountain Road south of Ocotillo Wells, Elephant Tree Area, Alma Canyon. The bloom in this area continues to be perhaps the best in the Park, and the recent rainfall should rejuvenate the bloom for some species in the future. We saw over 675 plants of 36 species in bloom, including six species not seen on any previous trip so far this year.
12/15/09: Elephant Tree Area, Alma Canyon. The good bloom here continues, with some species rejuvenated by the recent rain. For example, the Allionia blooms are much better now than they were six days ago.
Amazingly, one perennial plant, Lyrocarpa coulteri var. palmeri, Coulter's lyrepod, is already producing blooms on a plant just a few inches high just eight days after the rain. This plant must have already emerged and grew to its present size prior to the rain, since when we saw the plant on 12/27/09, 20 days after the rain, it looked virtually the same.
We saw over 660 plants of 29 species in bloom.
12/19/09: Clark Valley. We saw only 34 plants of 7 species in bloom today, which is more typical of most places in the Borrego Desert than the places we have been visiting so far this season. It is too early for blooms in most places that don't have a permanent source of water, or received summer rainfall.
We saw a zillion baby annuals that have sprouted, but unfortunately they are all silver dollar size clumps of the non-native Asian mustard, Brassica tournefortii. It is hard to imagine that just 15 years ago this invasive species was not even present here.
12/23/09: Agua Caliente County Park. This area is not in the Borrego Desert, but its report is included here anyway. The star of the show for me was seeing a single open bloom of Lycium parishii, Parish's desert-thorn, which is found only south of the Borrego Desert. This was the first time I had seen this species in bloom. We saw 18 species total in bloom. (Since this area is not in the Borrego Desert, the numbers from this trip are not included in the plots and tables below, or in the list of species in bloom.)
12/27/09: Elephant Tree Area, Alma Canyon, Starfish Cove. The bloom was almost identical to what was seen on 12/15/09, but we noticed fewer plants of each species in bloom, since this was mostly a hiking trip so we could finally get to Starfish Cove.
12/31/09: California Riding and Hiking Trail, Lower Hellhole Canyon part. It seemed like we had gone back in time by coming to this area after the Elephant Tree Area. Annuals were just germinating, with many showing just their cotyledons or first true leaves. Some of the shrubs were just leafing out.
1/3/10: California Riding and Hiking Trail, Culp Valley and upper Hellhole Canyon part. This trip was at 2600 feet elevation and above, and very few plants were in bloom. Interestingly, some of the annuals were a bit more advanced than seen lower on this trail four days ago, instead of being a bit farther behind.
1/7/10: Hellhole Canyon to Maidenhair Falls. There is excellent annual germination in Hellhole Canyon itself, and decent germination underneath the shrubs on the alluvial plain below. In particular, the Phacelia distans plants are growing robustly, with ~8 good-sized leaves or so on each plant. About ten plants of bladderpod, Isomeris arborea, are in good bloom.
1/10/10: Borrego Badlands: Fonts Point Wash and Beckman Wash. It was almost shocking to see the lack of native annual germination in this area. To a first approximation, the only annuals that have germinated here are those of the non-native Asian mustard, Brassica tournefortii. We only observed a few baby plants of narrow-leaved cryptantha, Cryptantha angustifolia, and a few other native annuals. Worse, even if native annuals germinate later, they will be overwhelmed by the non-native Asian mustard due to its huge head start.
We observed rosettes of 3-4 leaves on several desert lilies, Hesperocallis undulata, but the last leaf reverted to a much-smaller size, indicating that it might be running of our moisture. That doesn't augur well for its good bloom unless we get further rain.
As is often the case, the number of plants in bloom in the Borrego Badlands was way less here than we observed any place else so far this year. We found a grand total of 4 plants in bloom, each a different species.
We also found a single plant on the S22 roadside of Salton milk-vetch, Astragalus crotalariae, with a number of buds.
1/15/10: Hellhole Canyon to beyond Maidenhair Falls. Conditions are much the same as on 1/7/10, with the annuals all a bit bigger.
1/24/10: Hellhole Canyon to beyond Maidenhair Falls. It rained! It rained a lot! This hike was delayed by six days due to a glorious five days of rain.
Hellhole Canyon Creek is flowing quite strongly above the Canyon mouth; water is shooting down Maidenhair Falls; the ground is wet everywhere; and the annuals are looking great. The annuals are no longer little rosettes with a few leaves in many places; they are now forming masses with foliage some distance above the ground.
The widespread ~5 inches of rain here on 18-22 January guarantees a good wildflower display to come at least in this canyon.
The stars of the show today were a few specimens of California fish-hook cactus, Mammillaria dioica, in full bloom along the portion of the trail in the alluvial fan, and the first few plants of desert apricot, Prunus fremontii in bloom (both pix by Mike Crouse).
We observed three tiny plants of the first winter annual in bloom, but unfortunately the species was the non-native redstem filaree, Erodium cicutarium.
Number of Species and Plants in Bloom On Each Trip
Table 3. Number of Species and Total Number of Plants in Bloom on Each Trip
Number of 10/29 11/15 11/19 11/22 11/23 11/25 11/27 12/1 12/5 12/9 12/15 12/19 12/27 12/31 1/3 1/7 1/10 1/15 1/24 Species 12 21 19 20 22 19 12 39 19 36 29 7 25 10 5 11 4 10 14 Plants 258 537 365 601 653 372 423 1073 459 675 660 34 269 67 6 100 4 149 151
List of Species in Bloom On Each Trip, With Photographs
Table 4 gives the number of plants observed to be in bloom for each species on each hike, with a maximum value of 99 plants for each species. This maximum value prevents one species from dominating the total plants in bloom, and makes it much easier on me to keep track of the bloom.
Because the hike locations vary, some species will not be present on every hike, so the lack of an entry for a given hike says nothing about whether that species is blooming elsewhere.
The Checklist is sorted first by category, with dicots before monocots, and then by family and scientific name. The Family and Scientific Name are from the Jepson Manual. An asterisk before the Common Name indicates a non-native taxon.
See Plant Family Abbreviations to obtain the full family name from the abbreviations used in the table below.
The Checklist has thumbnail photographs for most of the species, all of which were taken in the Borrego Desert. Clicking on the thumbnail photograph gives a larger version equal in size to the ones at the top of this page.
All the larger versions are also presented in Pictorial Gallery of Species in Bloom To Date in 2009-2010, organized by flower color.
All pictures were taken by myself except the following:
- Bill Sullivan kindly contributed the pictures for Oenothera elata ssp. hirsutissima and Mimulus cardinalis.
- Mike Crouse kindly contributed the pictures for Fouquieria splendens ssp. splendens, Prunus fremontii, Mammillaria dioica and Ribes indecorum.
Some species that have bloomed in the Borrego Desert are not listed here, since I never observed them in bloom. Such species are found only in a few locations, and I either never visited those locations or they bloomed in between my visits to their location.
Of course, species that bloom later in the year, and species that do not have flowers (ferns, etc.) are not present in this list, so it is not the equivalent of a plant checklist for the Borrego Desert.
Table 4. List of Species in Bloom On Each Trip
# FAM Scientific Name Pix Common Name 10/29 11/15 11/19 11/22 11/23 11/25 11/27 12/1 12/5 12/9 12/15 12/19 12/27 12/31 1/3 1/7 1/10 1/15 1/24 1 ACA Justicia californica chuparosa 20 15 50 99 99 30 50 50 99 20 30 50 99 99 2 AMA Amaranthus fimbriatus fringed amaranth 10 10 1 1 3 ASC Asclepias subulata rush milkweed 2 4 ASC Sarcostemma cynanchoides ssp. hartwegii climbing milkweed 10 2 20 5 AST Adenophyllum porophylloides San Felipe dogweed 1 1 1 6 AST Ambrosia dumosa burroweed 3 1 7 AST Ambrosia psilostachya western ragweed 10 50 8 AST Baccharis salicifolia mule fat 10 99 3 5 2 9 AST Bebbia juncea var. aspera sweetbush 5 1 3 99 9 50 99 2 99 99 5 50 2 1 5 5 2 10 AST Brickellia desertorum desert brickellia 1 11 AST Chrysothamnus paniculatus punctate rabbitbrush 99 20 99 99 20 99 1 99 5 5 12 AST Conyza canadensis horseweed 2 5 13 AST Dicoria canescens desert dicoria 30 14 AST Encelia farinosa brittlebush 3 5 5 10 2 15 AST Ericameria brachylepis boundary goldenbush 1 2 1 2 1 16 AST Gutierrezia sarothrae matchweed 10 20 8 10 5 1 17 AST Isocoma acradenia var. eremophila solitary-leaved alkali goldenbush 30 99 1 18 AST Lepidospartum squamatum scale-broom 99 19 AST Palafoxia arida var. arida desert needle 2 10 1 1 10 1 99 1 5 5 1 20 AST Pectis papposa var. papposa chinch-weed 10 99 10 21 AST Perityle emoryi Emory's rock-daisy 1 1 1 1 22 AST Senecio flaccidus var. monoensis Mono ragwort 10 23 AST Solidago californica goldenrod 10 1 24 AST Stephanomeria exigua ssp. exigua slender wreathplant 2 25 AST Stephanomeria pauciflora var. pauciflora wire-lettuce 5 10 10 2 10 50 1 40 15 1 10 2 3 26 AST Viguiera parishii Parish's viguiera 2 1 1 27 BOR Cryptantha angustifolia narrow-leaved cryptantha 1 28 BOR Cryptantha racemosa bushy cryptantha 1 5 20 3 1 29 BOR Heliotropium curassavicum seaside heliotrope 1 30 BOR Tiquilia palmeri Palmer's coldenia 1 31 BOR Tiquilia plicata plicate coldenia 10 32 BRA Brassica tournefortii *Asian mustard 1 33 BRA Lyrocarpa coulteri var. palmeri Coulter's lyrepod 1 3 1 34 CAC Mammillaria dioica California fish-hook cactus 1 3 35 CAP Isomeris arborea bladderpod 10 1 10 10 10 36 CHE Chenopodium murale *nettle-leaved goosefoot 2 37 EUP Chamaesyce micromera Sonoran spurge 5 1 10 38 EUP Chamaesyce polycarpa small-seeded spurge 99 2 99 10 50 20 10 20 39 EUP Chamaesyce setiloba Yuma spurge 99 99 99 99 10 40 EUP Croton californicus California croton 5 1 1 15 1 41 EUP Ditaxis lanceolata narrowleaf ditaxis 1 20 99 50 20 5 42 EUP Ditaxis neomexicana New Mexico ditaxis 1 43 EUP Euphorbia eriantha beetle spurge 1 3 1 44 FAB Acacia greggii catclaw 1 45 FAB Lotus rigidus desert lotus 1 1 1 46 FAB Prosopis glandulosa var. torreyana honey mesquite 1 47 FAB Psorothamnus emoryi Emory's indigo-bush 1 15 2 1 48 FAB Psorothamnus schottii indigo bush 30 10 10 10 1 1 1 1 1 49 FOU Fouquieria splendens ssp. splendens ocotillo 99 99 99 99 50 7 99 5 99 20 20 5 15 1 20 20 50 GER Erodium cicutarium *redstem filaree 3 51 GRO Ribes indecorum white-flowering currant 1 52 KRA Krameria grayi white rhatany 1 1 5 1 10 10 53 LAM Hyptis emoryi desert-lavender 1 1 2 20 2 5 99 99 99 3 99 2 5 10 5 54 LOA Petalonyx thurberi ssp. thurberi Thurber's sandpaper-plant 1 55 MAL Hibiscus denudatus rock hibiscus 1 56 MAL Horsfordia newberryi Newberry's velvet mallow 3 57 MAL Malacothamnus aboriginum Indian Valley bush mallow 1 5 1 1 58 NYC Abronia villosa var. villosa hairy sand-verbena 1 2 59 NYC Allionia incarnata trailing four o'clock 99 99 20 30 20 60 NYC Boerhavia intermedia fivewing spiderling 10 61 NYC Boerhavia wrightii Wright's spiderling 1 30 62 NYC Mirabilis bigelovii var. retrorsa wishbone plant 5 1 1 2 1 63 ONA Camissonia cardiophylla ssp. cardiophylla heartleaf sun-cup 1 5 5 1 64 ONA Epilobium canum ssp. latifolium mountain California-fuchsia 10 99 10 65 ONA Epilobium ciliatum ssp. ciliatum willowherb 1 66 ONA Oenothera elata ssp. hirsutissima Hooker's evening-primrose 2 67 PLA Platanus racemosa western sycamore 1 68 POL Eriogonum elongatum var. elongatum long-stemmed buckwheat 99 99 99 99 99 99 69 POL Eriogonum fasciculatum var. polifolium California buckwheat 2 1 70 POL Eriogonum inflatum desert trumpet 1 5 1 6 20 1 10 10 2 3 1 3 71 POL Eriogonum wrightii var. nodosum Wright's buckwheat 30 21 30 2 2 1 1 72 ROS Prunus fremontii desert apricot 3 73 SCR Mimulus cardinalis scarlet monkeyflower 1 74 SOL Datura discolor desert thornapple 99 50 50 1 75 SOL Datura wrightii sacred datura 2 76 SOL Lycium andersonii Anderson's desert-thorn 1 77 SOL Nicotiana obtusifolia desert tobacco 1 1 1 78 SOL Physalis crassifolia thick-leaved ground cherry 1 3 4 10 6 79 SOL Solanum douglasii white nightshade 2 80 VIS Phoradendron californicum desert mistletoe 2 81 ZYG Fagonia pachyacantha sticky fagonia 1 3 2 82 ZYG Larrea tridentata creosote bush 5 1 5 1 83 LIL Agave deserti desert agave 1 1 1 1 1 84 POA Aristida adscensionis six-weeks three-awn 1 5 5 3 1 85 POA Bouteloua aristidoides var. aristidoides needle grama 30 10 1 1 86 POA Bouteloua barbata var. barbata six-weeks grama 1 1 87 POA Pleuraphis rigida big galleta 3 2
Links to Other Webpages, etc. on Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Blooms
DesertUSA Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Wildflower Reports For 2010
Anza-Borrego Desert Wildflowers: Where and When to Look from the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Wildflower Hotline: (760)767-4684. "Information on this recording is updated regularly."
Anza-Borrego Foundation and Institute Wildflowers (link didn't work on 9 February 2009)
Theodore Payne Wildflower Hotline (Reports begin in March 2010)
Carol Leigh's California Wildflower Hotsheet
Copyright © 2008-2010 by Tom Chester.
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Updated 25 January 2010.