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 of10/2911/1511/1911/2211/2311/2511/2712/112/512/912/1512/1912/2712/311/31/71/101/151/24

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:

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

#FAMScientific NamePixCommon Name10/2911/1511/1911/2211/2311/2511/2712/112/512/912/1512/1912/2712/311/31/71/101/151/24
1ACAJusticia californicachuparosa 201550 999930505099 2030 50 9999
2AMAAmaranthus fimbriatusfringed amaranth    10  10 11        
3ASCAsclepias subulatarush milkweed      2            
4ASCSarcostemma cynanchoides ssp. hartwegiiclimbing milkweed 10220               
5ASTAdenophyllum porophylloidesSan Felipe dogweed       1  1      1 
6ASTAmbrosia dumosaburroweed    3  1           
7ASTAmbrosia psilostachyawestern ragweed  1050               
8ASTBaccharis salicifoliamule fat1099   3  5      2   
9ASTBebbia juncea var. asperasweetbush 513999509929999550215 52
10ASTBrickellia desertorumdesert brickellia  1                
11ASTChrysothamnus paniculatuspunctate rabbitbrush99209999 209919955        
12ASTConyza canadensishorseweed25                 
13ASTDicoria canescensdesert dicoria 30                 
14ASTEncelia farinosabrittlebush    3  5 510 2      
15ASTEricameria brachylepisboundary goldenbush  12    1    21    
16ASTGutierrezia sarothraematchweed  1020 8  1051        
17ASTIsocoma acradenia var. eremophilasolitary-leaved alkali goldenbush3099   1             
18ASTLepidospartum squamatumscale-broom99                  
19ASTPalafoxia arida var. aridadesert needle21011101 99155     1  
20ASTPectis papposa var. papposachinch-weed    10  99 10         
21ASTPerityle emoryiEmory's rock-daisy       111  1      
22ASTSenecio flaccidus var. monoensisMono ragwort10                  
23ASTSolidago californicagoldenrod   10              1
24ASTStephanomeria exigua ssp. exiguaslender wreathplant  2                
25ASTStephanomeria pauciflora var. pauciflorawire-lettuce 51010 21050140151102 3   
26ASTViguiera parishiiParish's viguiera   2  1       1    
27BORCryptantha angustifolianarrow-leaved cryptantha       1           
28BORCryptantha racemosabushy cryptantha      1 5203 1      
29BORHeliotropium curassavicumseaside heliotrope1                  
30BORTiquilia palmeriPalmer's coldenia       1           
31BORTiquilia plicataplicate coldenia 10                 
32BRABrassica tournefortii*Asian mustard         1         
33BRALyrocarpa coulteri var. palmeriCoulter's lyrepod         13 1      
34CACMammillaria dioicaCalifornia fish-hook cactus               1  3
35CAPIsomeris arboreabladderpod 10   1         10 1010
36CHEChenopodium murale*nettle-leaved goosefoot         2         
37EUPChamaesyce micromeraSonoran spurge       5 110        
38EUPChamaesyce polycarpasmall-seeded spurge    992 99105020 1020     
39EUPChamaesyce setilobaYuma spurge    99  99 9999 10      
40EUPCroton californicusCalifornia croton 51    115       1  
41EUPDitaxis lanceolatanarrowleaf ditaxis  1 20  99 5020 5      
42EUPDitaxis neomexicanaNew Mexico ditaxis             1     
43EUPEuphorbia erianthabeetle spurge       1 31        
44FABAcacia greggiicatclaw          1        
45FABLotus rigidusdesert lotus         11   1    
46FABProsopis glandulosa var. torreyanahoney mesquite     1             
47FABPsorothamnus emoryiEmory's indigo-bush     1  15  2    1  
48FABPsorothamnus schottiiindigo bush    30  10 101011  1 11
49FOUFouquieria splendens ssp. splendensocotillo 999999 995079959920205 1512020
50GERErodium cicutarium*redstem filaree                  3
51GRORibes indecorumwhite-flowering currant                  1
52KRAKrameria grayiwhite rhatany  1151 10 10         
53LAMHyptis emoryidesert-lavender 112202599 99993992 5 105
54LOAPetalonyx thurberi ssp. thurberiThurber's sandpaper-plant 1                 
55MALHibiscus denudatusrock hibiscus       1           
56MALHorsfordia newberryiNewberry's velvet mallow       3           
57MALMalacothamnus aboriginumIndian Valley bush mallow1              5 11
58NYCAbronia villosa var. villosahairy sand-verbena       1 2         
59NYCAllionia incarnatatrailing four o'clock    99  99 2030 20      
60NYCBoerhavia intermediafivewing spiderling       10           
61NYCBoerhavia wrightiiWright's spiderling    1  30           
62NYCMirabilis bigelovii var. retrorsawishbone plant    5  1 12 1      
63ONACamissonia cardiophylla ssp. cardiophyllaheartleaf sun-cup      1 55  1      
64ONAEpilobium canum ssp. latifoliummountain California-fuchsia  1099    10          
65ONAEpilobium ciliatum ssp. ciliatumwillowherb1                  
66ONAOenothera elata ssp. hirsutissimaHooker's evening-primrose2                  
67PLAPlatanus racemosawestern sycamore   1               
68POLEriogonum elongatum var. elongatumlong-stemmed buckwheat 999999 9999 99          
69POLEriogonum fasciculatum var. polifoliumCalifornia buckwheat       2    1      
70POLEriogonum inflatumdesert trumpet 1  5162011010231 3   
71POLEriogonum wrightii var. nodosumWright's buckwheat   30 21  30   22   11
72ROSPrunus fremontiidesert apricot                  3
73SCRMimulus cardinalisscarlet monkeyflower1                  
74SOLDatura discolordesert thornapple    99  50 50  1      
75SOLDatura wrightiisacred datura 2                 
76SOLLycium andersoniiAnderson's desert-thorn 1                 
77SOLNicotiana obtusifoliadesert tobacco         11 1      
78SOLPhysalis crassifoliathick-leaved ground cherry    1  3 410 6      
79SOLSolanum douglasiiwhite nightshade   2               
80VISPhoradendron californicumdesert mistletoe              2    
81ZYGFagonia pachyacanthasticky fagonia    1  3 2         
82ZYGLarrea tridentatacreosote bush 5   1 5 1         
83LILAgave desertidesert agave  11        1    11
84POAAristida adscensionissix-weeks three-awn    1  5 53 1      
85POABouteloua aristidoides var. aristidoidesneedle grama    30  10  1 1      
86POABouteloua barbata var. barbatasix-weeks grama         11        
87POAPleuraphis rigidabig 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

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Updated 25 January 2010.