was a part "check out the blooms by car trip" and part "get
in some hiking" trip. It worked out perfectly!
I met Jeff Fields and Jim Roberts in the Lake Henshaw area at the junction of S2 and SR79 at 10:15 a.m. where the temp was a very chilly 44 deg.
We car surveyed first along S22 beginning at S2. Nearly throughout our survey, we found happy plants from all the monsoonal and fall rain, so I won't mention that again, and will report primarily the blooms we saw from the car, and from our stops.
Surprisingly, blooms were not as numerous as I had expected in most places, although they were still very good for this time of year, and in some places the blooms were spectacular. Note that there could be a number of small blooms that would not have been visible from the car.
All species mentioned below were in bloom unless mentioned otherwise.
Jim, Jeff and I posted a total of 99 observations of 55 species from our trip, of which at least 31 species were in bloom:
Jim posted 58 obs of 49 species; Jeff posted 31 obs of 29 species, and I posted 10 obs of 4 species.
From the car, we saw nothing in bloom along S2 in the Ranchita area.
We stopped at the ABDSP park entrance, where it was still horribly cold. There was a lot of germination there, but it was mostly non-blooming Erodium cicutarium, with a much smaller-number of non-blooming native annuals (alas, I've now forgotten who they were).
Descending into Culp Valley from the park entrance, the only noticeable blooms were from Encelia actoni. Most plants of that species were in bloom, with a good number of blooms, but they didn't produce anywhere near the show that E. farinosa does in full bloom.
We stopped at the Culp Valley Campground entrance, where there was a fair amount of Pectis, a large number of Euphorbia melanadenia, and a few Encelia actoni. The hillside of Bahiopsis parishii was almost completely finished. We found both Kallstroemia californica and K. parvifolia there, both species essentially finished. There were young plants of Lupinus bicolor not in bloom.
Jim's post of Encelia actoni from there:
From this stop onward throughout the entire day, we found large fields of Kallstroemia californica nearly everywhere. It was absolutely amazing! There were sometimes scattered small flowers on it, but mostly the plants were on their last fruit.
We stopped at the parking area on the left (north) that is the starting point for the Big Spring Hike. There were a few Encelia farinosa in good bloom, some Bahiopsis on their last blooms, Pectis, and a huge number of Ditaxis neomexicana (now D. serrata to some). It was remarkable that both Ziziphus and Prunus fremontii were fully leafed out, non-blooming, making it easy to tell the difference from the color of the leaves.
Jim's post of Encelia farinosa from there:
There were patches of Boerhavia triquetra intermedia where essentially every flower stem was eaten! This was pretty curious, since there is not much forage from those stalks. But maybe some critters like the taste of the flowers and/or fruit to flavor more substantial forage. (:-)
The chuparosa plants there were mostly not in bloom, continuing the trend that some of the ordinarily-reliable bloomers at this time of year, are not blooming after all this warm season rain. Jim and/or Jeff did find a few blooms hiding on one side of the plants.
After that, everything along the Montezuma Grade looked dry, except for the ocotillos which still mostly had green leaves. The turnout area at the top of the Grade had nothing happening. The overlook area had only a few patches of Perityle producing green, with one Physalis plant in bloom. Near the bottom we saw one creosote in bloom.
I had been hoping for much more from that Grade!
We stopped at the Hellhole Parking area. Again, except for the Psorothamnus schottii and cheesebush with leaves, nothing else was happening. The only annuals were mostly-dried up Chamaesyces (Euphorbias). My pix showing how dry it looked for annuals:
Things changed for the better on the desert floor. There were scattered Pectis along the road to Xmas Circle, and some very good fields of Pectis along Borrego Springs Road. They were so good we had to stop twice before our next planned stop at the 90 deg bend in the road with Henderson Canyon Road. There was also one "town" lot covered with Abronia.
Jim's post of the Pectis from there:
My view pix of the Pectis fields there:
town lot on the east of BS Road:
area on west of BS Road, a bit farther north of the previous pix:
We stopped at the 90 deg bend, and it had mats of Kallstroemia and some cute Datura discolor plants. I didn't notice this in the field, but the plant that both Jim and Jeff photographed has a seriously-weird calyx, all twisted and coming off the corolla:
There were a number of frostmat plants just beginning bloom here, and throughout the rest of the trip. Jim and Jeff's photo of the plants at the 90 deg bend:
I noticed that there was a considerable variation in the size and color of the leaves of Tiquilia plicata at this spot. My iNat post:
We stopped at the pavement end of Di Giorgio Road, and I was ECSTATIC to see ginormous mats of Kallstroemia well over 3 feet across! I had seen pix of these huge mats from a long time ago, and always wanted to see them myself, and verify that they weren't Tribulus. (:-)
Jim and Jeff's posts that show the mats:
My view pix of the mats:
There were some Abronia plants blooming there as well.
We stopped along Henderson Canyon Road, where the Geraea plants were just beginning to bloom. We stopped at the first blooming plants, but when we drove east we passed by much denser Geraea fields. Jim and Jeff's posts:
We really hit the jackpot as we drove east of Fonts Point Wash. First, in the distance to the north we could see a haze of purple, and I knew it was due to a field of Abronia in flower! Then we stopped at the huge field of Abronia in the sandy area right next to the road, first pointed out to me by Fred and Carla. It was FABULOUS!!! We spent a full half hour soaking in the color and walking around.
I took NINE different sets of pano shots from different vantage points!
A sampling of those:
zoom shot from the parking pullout area:
shots from in the field:
Jeff and Jim in the field:
We parked at the Villager Peak Trailhead to do our hike, and were greeted by a nice field of Pectis. We had seen hills of gold to the south, and it was clear now that they were due to Pectis.
It was wonderful to hike that trail when the plants were so happy! Desert lilies were up, Allionia was in good bloom, and we even found a single plant of diamond cholla (=pencil cholla), C. ramosissima, with a good bloom! Jeff and Jim's pix:
North of Lute Ridge, there were a number of large Dalea plants with flowers.
When we neared Rattlesnake Canyon, the bouldery rocks were filled with Perityle, and we saw the first two flowers from those plants. Jim and Jeff's pix:
At Rattlesnake Canyon we decided to turn left, and do a loop to go back to the cars. The most notable thing about that loop were quite a few seedling plants of Palo Verde and catclaw acacia.
We got back to the cars at 4:30 p.m. Jim and Jeff drove back home. I wanted to get some more hiking in.
I had planned to hike to the fields of Abronia previously seen in the distance, beyond the fields right at S22, but as I drove there, an area of white sand on the ridge to the south caught my eye. I had wanted to find some Aristida californica for Carla and Fred, and I remembered that this was probably the location where I had seen one plant, found by Keir Morse.
I parked on S22, and hiked the 0.4 mile to the very white sand-dune-y area I remembered from that past trip. I was hiking through fields of small Pectis, verifying that was what made the hills gold.
I found a patch of Aristida in the very sandy area, but they were all A. adscensionis.
I continued to survey in the less-sandy area, and quickly found a patch of at least 40 plants of A. californica.
These seven posts show about 30 of the 40 plants here:
The last post above gives a "location" pix for two of the plants.
While I was looking for the Aristida, I came across a sphinx moth getting nectar from the abronia at high speed. My post:
This time I got back to the car at sunset, a nicely-timed end to a flower-filled day.