Flora of Borrego Badlands Area

Voucher Records
Field Surveys
Summary of Checklist and Species Not Found


This checklist is a start at a flora of the Borrego Badlands Area, from vouchers and field surveys.

The floristic area denoted as the Borrego Badlands is delineated by the red rectangle in the following map:

The western area includes all of what is marked as the Borrego Badlands on the topographic map, plus additional non-badland area. This floristic area is extended to the east to the Imperial County Line since that eastern area is similar in many respects to the Badlands. The northern boundary is arbitrarily set along Highway S22 for convenience and clarity. The southern boundary is set to exclude the Borrego Sink Wash, San Felipe Creek, and the Ocotillo Wells Off-Road Vehicle Area.

Note that this area includes a majority of non-badlands area.

The name badlands refers to a intricately-sculptured landscape in easily-eroded rock, characterized by steep slopes, minimal vegetation, lack of a substantial regolith, and high drainage density. If this flora were confined to just the actual badland area, it would be much shorter, since only a small number of species can tolerate the lack of normal soil on the surface, and the extreme alkalinity of the exposed sedimentary rock. Most of the actual badlands have no vegetation at all on them.

Voucher Records

Vouchers were searched and examined on at least three different dates, so the following is a bit more complicated than it would be from a single voucher search.

The vouchers come from a search on 16 December 2007 of the Consortium of California Herbaria, and a search of the San Diego Plant Atlas and Herbarium records, and a later search for vouchers with coordinates on 30 November 2013, for 33.24 to 33.30° N. latitude and -116.27 to -116.19° E. longitude. Vouchers outside the target area were tossed.

More information on the on 16 December 2007 voucher search:

The Consortium records were searched for San Diego County specimens that contained the words badland or Font in the locality. Redundant vouchers were removed, and 73 vouchers from the Carrizo Badlands were eliminated, leaving 105 vouchers of 52 taxa. The dominant collectors in the Consortium records were Joe Barth, 26 vouchers; Jon P. Rebman, J. Gibson, A. Winner, & misc. botany vols., 47 vouchers (of 15 unique collection numbers); and Duffie Clemons, Erik Jonson, Mike Curto, 13 vouchers.

The San Diego records were retrieved for grid cells F26-F29 and G26-G29. One record of Clematis lasiantha was rejected, after an examination of the locality field revealed that the coordinates for this record were erroneous. This resulted in 150 vouchers of 80 taxa. Note that some of the San Diego vouchers also appear in the Consortium records. Only the Plant Atlas records are identified with collector. The dominant collector by far in the San Diego records was jb2 with 51 vouchers; the next largest collector had 7 vouchers.

The determinations for all San Diego Plant Atlas vouchers were all marked as verified by Jon Rebman except for the single voucher of Pectis papposa var. papposa which most likely had simply not yet been processed yet. There are many vouchers of this taxon nearby.

The size of the area delineated in red in the map above is roughly 51 square miles. However, the San Diego Plant Atlas voucher search covered eight Plant Atlas Grid Cells, a total of 72 square miles. On 21 November 2014, I examined the localities in the Consortium of all the species from this voucher set that we have not observed in this area, and tossed species without vouchers actually in the target area.

On 16 December 2007, there were 95 total unique taxa found by combining the two searches. Two of these taxa, Isocoma acradenia var. acradenia and Helianthus niveus ssp. tephrodes, did not appear in Floristic Area #16 in Duffie Clemons' 1985 Checklist of Vascular Plants of the Anza-Borrego Desert, but are present in the 2006 San Diego County Checklist.

Since 16 December 2007, I have augmented the vouchers as I have come across additional records in the course of other work. In particular, in late November 2008 I added a few records from searches for species that I had observed in the Santa Rosa Mountains but which had no vouchers recorded in my database.

The total number of vouchered taxa was 98 on 7 December 2008 from the first voucher search. Only 60 taxa were vouchered from the georeferenced vouchers retrieved on 30 November 2013. After tossing those species without vouchers actually in the target area, on 21 November 2014 the total number of taxa with vouchers is 97.

Field Surveys

Fig. 2 shows the locations where we have recorded GPS points for individual species in this area.

Fig. 2. Locations where we have recorded GPS points for individual species in the Borrego Badlands area as of 15 December 2014. GPS Points from later surveys are not yet included in these maps. Left: map of individual GPS points. Note that some locations have as many as 40 species recorded at the same point. Right: cluster version showing how many points are in each area.
Click on the maps for larger versions.

Field surveys were done of the following areas:

Field Work near Fonts Point Wash

I recorded all species seen in the parts of Inspiration Wash and Fonts Point Wash near Highway S22 during targeted searches for Pilostyles thurberi and Psorothamnus emoryi on 28 December 2005, augmented by one species seen on 11 December 2007. A total of just 23 species were found in those searches.

Wayne Armstrong and I recorded all species seen on 15 December 2007 in a 2 mile loop containing Fonts Point; just 24 species were found in that search.

A total of 35 taxa were found in those December searches; 11 of those 35 taxa, 31%, are not among the 16 December 2007 vouchered species.

On 15 November 2014, Keir Morse added five species to the Fonts Point flora, and one species to the Inspiration Wash and Fonts Point Wash near Highway S22 flora.

Field Work from Ella Wash, Short Wash, Vista del Malpais, Palo Verde Wash and Smoke Tree Wash

On 4 December 2008, I recorded all species seen on an 8 mile loop trip from S22 at Ella Wash to Vista del Malpais along Ella and Short Wash, returning via Palo Verde and Smoke Tree Wash. A total of 44 taxa were found that could be fairly confidently identified, and are given in the checklist below. Three other species were seen: an unknown dead annual like Chaenactis; a dead Cryptantha species probably distinct from the C. barbigera in the checklist; and a dead annual grass that may have been Schismus barbatus.

Dave Stith, Mike Crouse and I did this loop again at prime time on 11 March 2009.

Field Work from Arroyo Salado / Seventeen Palms / Five Palms Spring area

Mike Crouse and I surveyed this area on 19 December 2008 and again at prime time on 23 March 2009.

Field Work from Beckman Wash area

On 10 January 2010, Tom Chester, Anne Kelly, RT Hawke, Aaron Schusteff, and Pam Pallette surveyed a 0.7 mile loop, finding just 29 species. Annual germination was almost non-existent on this survey, except for Brassica tournefortii.

Summary of Checklist and Species Not Found

As of 20 November 2014, the total number of taxa presented below is 133, 125 of which are native (the list may have been updated after this summary was done). The list contains 134 entries, since the species Cryptantha barbigera is given as well as its two varieties found here, since the earlier surveys did not distinguish the two varieties.

It is likely that this area may have the lowest native biodiversity of any part of San Diego County for the following reasons:

An area of this size, roughly 51 square miles, in most of the rest of San Diego County would have roughly 500 native species, whereas this area has just 135 so far recorded. Oddly, the next most depauperate area in my database is San Clemente Island, with 233 native taxa in 57 square miles.

Although the number of species may be small, any area that contains Southern California's Most Unusual Wildflower, along with rarely-seen southern California species such as Orcutt's woody-aster, Xylorhiza orcuttii and Algodones Dunes sunflower, Helianthus niveus ssp. tephrodes, is still of major botanic interest.

It is interesting that the list contains no lycophytes (Selaginella), no ferns, and no gymnosperms. Table 1 gives the most common Borrego Desert species that are not known from the Borrego Badlands.

Table 1. The Most Common Borrego Desert Species That Are ***Not*** Known From The Borrego Badlands

# areasCommon NameScientific Name
54Gander's chollaCylindropuntia ganderi
43teddy-bear chollaCylindropuntia bigelovii
42California trixisTrixis californica var. californica
42common phaceliaPhacelia distans
41San Felipe dogweedAdenophyllum porophylloides
39woolly lipfernCheilanthes parryi
38rock hibiscusHibiscus denudatus
38jojobaSimmondsia chinensis
37Parish's viguieraBahiopsis parishii
37California buckwheatEriogonum fasciculatum var. polifolium
35Engelmann's hedgehog cactusEchinocereus engelmannii
34thick-leaved ground cherryPhysalis crassifolia
34California fish-hook cactusMammillaria dioica
31chuparosaJusticia californica
31arrow-leafPleurocoronis pluriseta
31desert woolly-starEriastrum eremicum ssp. eremicum
30whispering bellsEmmenanthe penduliflora var. penduliflora
30star-flowered bedstrawGalium stellatum
30California fagoniaFagonia laevis
29Mojave ragwortSenecio mohavensis
29western tansy-mustardDescurainia pinnata
29bajada lupineLupinus concinnus
29Wright's buckwheatEriogonum wrightii var. nodosum
28Mormon teaEphedra aspera
27Vasey's sageSalvia vaseyi
27apricot mallowSphaeralcea ambigua var. ambigua
27threadstemPterostegia drymarioides
27Anderson's boxthornLycium andersonii
26California matchweedGutierrezia californica
25desert lotusAcmispon rigidus
25purple three-awnAristida purpurea
25desert spike-mossSelaginella eremophila
24curvenut combseedPectocarya recurvata
24California juniperJuniperus californica
23Fremont pincushionChaenactis fremontii
23linear-leaved stillingiaStillingia linearifolia
23desert apricotPrunus fremontii
22star giliaGilia stellata
22London rocketSisymbrium irio
22California filagoLogfia filaginoides
22short-winged deerweedAcmispon glaber var. brevialatus
22intermediate larkspurDelphinium parishii ssp. subglobosum
22ayeniaAyenia compacta
21Texas filareeErodium texanum
21boundary goldenbushEricameria brachylepis
21desert dudleyaDudleya saxosa ssp. aloides
20desert brickelliaBrickellia desertorum
20beetle spurgeEuphorbia eriantha
20short-bannered coastal lotusAcmispon maritimus var. brevivexillus
20white fiesta flowerPholistoma membranaceum

Checklist for Borrego Badlands


An asterisk before the common name indicates a non-native species.

The column #V gives the number of vouchers for this area, with a maximum value of 9.

The columns with the header #Pls gives the minimum number of plants for each species observed in each area, up to a maximum of 99, except for the species observed by Keir Morse, which have the entry KM.

The column headers for the individual areas are:

These areas are in order from west to east.

No column is given for the Beckman Wash survey, or the surveys at the south end of the Thimble Trail.

Note that monsoonal species are not well-represented in the checklist for all areas due to a lack of summer / fall surveys in good monsoonal years, and winter annual / perennial species are not well-represented for some areas due to the lack of surveys in those areas in good winter rainfall years.

On the 12/4/08 Ella Wash survey, a dead skeleton of what appeared to be a Nemacladus species was found. That doesn't appear in the checklist since the determination could not be made to species.

Version for printing, without lines and other text on this page: html (5 pages) or pdf Clickbook booklet (1 double-sided page). (See printing instructions for an explanation of these options)

#FamilScientific Name(*)Common Name#V# Plants
1AmaraTidestromia suffruticosa var. oblongifoliaArizona honeysweet155 1 
2ApocyAsclepias albicanswhite-stemmed milkweed1    1
3ApocyAsclepias subulatarush milkweed4771 1
4ApocyFunastrum hirtellumrambling milkweed1     
5ApodaPilostyles thurberiThurber's pilostyles21135   
6AsterAmbrosia dumosaburroweed49999999999
7AsterAmbrosia salsola var. salsolacheesebush3 1 9999
8AsterBaileya pauciradiataColorado Desert marigold4     
9AsterBebbia juncea var. asperasweetbush    995
10AsterCalycoseris wrightiiwhite tackstem1   130
11AsterChaenactis artemisiifoliameally white pincushion1     
12AsterChaenactis carphoclinia var. carphocliniapebble pincushion    299
13AsterChaenactis carphoclinia var. peirsoniiPeirson's pincushion2     
14AsterChaenactis stevioidesdesert pincushion1   9930
15AsterDicoria canescensdesert dicoria510 99  
16AsterEncelia farinosabrittlebush4 2 1099
17AsterEncelia frutescensbutton encelia3 1835402
18AsterGeraea canescenshairy desert-sunflower31550 9999
19AsterHelianthus niveus ssp. tephrodesAlgodones Dunes sunflower2     
20AsterHelianthus petiolaris ssp. canescensgray desert sunflower5  2  
21AsterIsocoma acradeniaalkali goldenbush15099 9950
22AsterMalacothrix glabratadesert dandelion1   5020
23AsterMonoptilon bellioidesdesert star2   9940
24AsterPalafoxia arida var. aridaSpanish needle42030995030
25AsterPectis papposa var. papposachinch-weed1991599  
26AsterPerityle emoryiEmory's rock-daisy1   2050
27AsterPsathyrotes ramosissimaturtleback    5 
28AsterRafinesquia neomexicanadesert chicory1   9950
29AsterStephanomeria pauciflorawire-lettuce11550109920
30AsterTrichoptilium incisumyellow-head    1 
31AsterXylorhiza orcuttiiOrcutt's woody-aster2706 250
32BignoChilopsis linearis ssp. arcuatadesert-willow1 99   
33BoragCryptantha angustifolianarrow-leaved cryptantha4203019999
34BoragCryptantha barbigerabearded cryptantha1   501
35BoragCryptantha barbigera var. barbigerabearded cryptantha      
36BoragCryptantha barbigera var. fergusoniaeSanta Rosa Mountain bearded cryptantha      
37BoragCryptantha costataribbed cryptantha1     
38BoragCryptantha ganderiGander's cryptantha2     
39BoragCryptantha maritimaGuadalupe cryptantha11099 5099
40BoragEucrypta micranthadesert eucrypta1     
41BoragPectocarya heterocarpachuckwalla pectocarya2   50 
42BoragPectocarya platycarpabroad-fruited combseed1     
43BoragPhacelia crenulata var. ambiguaheliotrope phacelia1   9999
44BoragPhacelia crenulata var. minutifloralittle-flowered heliotrope phacelia1   13
45BoragTiquilia palmeriPalmer's coldenia3305099994
46BoragTiquilia plicataplicate coldenia 50 9950 
47BrassBrassica tournefortii*Asian mustard25080999999
48BrassDithyrea californicaspectacle-pod2   30 
49BrassLepidium lasiocarpum ssp. lasiocarpumhairy-podded pepper-grass2510 9999
50BrassStreptanthella longirostrislongbeak streptanthella    99 
51CactaCylindropuntia echinocarpasilver cholla1504575206
52CactaCylindropuntia ramosissimapencil cholla 154 30 
53CactaFerocactus cylindraceusCalifornia barrel cactus    2 
54CactaOpuntia basilaris var. basilarisbeavertail cactus  15 22
55CaryoAchyronychia cooperifrost mat1   110
56ChenoAtriplex canescens var. laciniataCaleb saltbush11550 9940
57ChenoAtriplex hymenelytradesert holly4509949999
58ChenoAtriplex polycarpacattle saltbush 209922030
59ChenoChenopodium murale*nettle-leaved goosefoot2     
60ChenoSalsola tragus*Russian thistle 215 1 
61ChenoSuaeda nigrabush seepweed     30
62CleomCleomella obtusifoliaMojave cleomella2    99
63EuphoChamaesyce abramsianaAbrams' prostrate spurge   99  
64EuphoChamaesyce micromeraSonoran spurge  9999  
65EuphoChamaesyce polycarpasmall-seeded spurge3 3599995
66EuphoCroton californicusCalifornia croton8504099  
67EuphoDitaxis lanceolatanarrowleaf ditaxis1   1 
68EuphoStillingia spinulosaannual stillingia3     
69FabacAcmispon strigosusstrigose lotus1   504
70FabacAstragalus crotalariaeSalton milk-vetch4995 1 
71FabacAstragalus didymocarpus var. dispermusdwarf white milk-vetch1     
72FabacAstragalus lentiginosus var. borreganusBorrego milk-vetch6     
73FabacDalea mollissilky dalea3  99  
74FabacDalea mollissimadowny dalea  2 sp1 
75FabacLupinus arizonicusArizona lupine2   9999
76FabacParkinsonia floridablue palo verde2   30 
77FabacProsopis glandulosa var. torreyanahoney mesquite11 1 40
78FabacPsorothamnus emoryiEmory's indigo-bush2309560 10
79FabacPsorothamnus schottiiindigo bush 759959950
80FabacPsorothamnus spinosussmoke tree  30 9930
81FabacSenegalia greggiicatclaw    2050
82FouquFouquieria splendens ssp. splendensocotillo29999995030
83GeranErodium cicutarium*redstem filaree1   1 
84KrameKrameria bicolorwhite rhatany 5099995050
85KrameKrameria erectaPima rhatany2  99  
86LamiaHyptis emoryidesert-lavender1   5020
87LamiaSalvia columbariaechia    1 
88LoasaMentzelia albicauliswhite-stemmed blazing star    1010
89LoasaMentzelia involucratabracted blazing star1   120
90LoasaPetalonyx thurberi ssp. thurberiThurber's sandpaper-plant  250305
91MalvaEremalche rotundifoliadesert five-spot1    5
92MolluMollugo cerviana*carpet-weed   10  
93MontiCistanthe ambiguadesert red maids1   9999
94NyctaAbronia villosa var. villosahairy sand-verbena91149940
95NyctaAllionia incarnata var. incarnatatrailing four o'clock1 299  
96NyctaBoerhavia wrightiiWright's spiderling1  2  
97NyctaMirabilis laevis var. retrorsaBigelow's desert four-o'clock    2 
98NyctaMirabilis laevis var. villosaBigelow's desert four-o'clock2     
99OnagrChylismia cardiophylla ssp. cardiophyllaheartleaf suncup1     
100OnagrChylismia claviformis ssp. peirsoniibrown-eyed primrose29999 9999
101OnagrEremothera boothii ssp. condensataBooth's evening primrose24040109940
102OnagrEulobus californicusCalifornia suncup25  501
103OnagrOenothera deltoides ssp. deltoidesdune primrose1202301 
104OrobaOrobanche cooperiCooper's broomrape 1    
105PapavEschscholzia minutiflora ssp. minutiflorasmall-flowered poppy    9999
106PapavEschscholzia parishiiParish's poppy1   411
107PlantPlantago ovatadesert plantain35050 199
108PolemAliciella latifolia ssp. latifoliabroad-leaf gilia1   4010
109PolemLangloisia setosissima ssp. setosissimabristly langloisia1    40
110PolemLoeseliastrum schottiiSchott's calico 2025 2020
111PolygChorizanthe brevicornu var. brevicornubrittle spineflower2510 9950
112PolygChorizanthe corrugatawrinkled spineflower1   9940
113PolygChorizanthe rigidadevil's spineflower1599 9920
114PolygEriogonum deflexum var. deflexumflat-topped buckwheat3 20 220
115PolygEriogonum inflatumdesert trumpet1 1 9910
116PolygEriogonum thomasiiThomas' buckwheat1   9999
117PolygEriogonum trichopeslittle desert trumpet29999 9920
118ResedOligomeris linifolialineleaf whitepuff3 3 9999
119SolanLycium brevipes var. brevipesdesert boxthorn     20
120SolanNicotiana obtusifoliadesert tobacco2     
121TamarTamarix sp.*tamarisk    1 
122ViscaPhoradendron californicumdesert mistletoe    1040
123ZygopKallstroemia californicaCalifornia caltrop  9999  
124ZygopLarrea tridentatacreosote bush29999999999
125AgavaAgave deserti var. desertidesert agave   1  
126AgavaHesperocallis undulatadesert lily43 39940
127ArecaWashingtonia filiferaCalifornia fan palm     23
128JuncaJuncus cooperiCooper's rush     5
129PoaceAristida adscensionissix-weeks three-awn 206099 10
130PoaceAristida californicaCalifornia three-awn   3  
131PoaceBouteloua barbata var. barbatasix-weeks grama  3010  
132PoaceBromus madritensis ssp. rubens*red brome2     
133PoaceDasyochloa pulchellafluff grass  50   
134PoaceDistichlis spicatasaltgrass     99
135PoaceHilaria rigidabig galleta29999994099
136PoaceHordeum murinum*foxtail barley    99 
137PoacePhragmites australiscommon reed     10
138PoaceSchismus barbatus*Mediterranean schismus29999 9999
139PoaceStipa hymenoidesIndian ricegrass4     

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Copyright © 2007-2016 by Tom Chester (see list of people who participated in each of the surveys)
Permission is freely granted to reproduce any or all of this page as long as credit is given to me at this source:
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Last update: 16 January 2016