What an amazing trip!  Ted Caragozian, Don Rideout, Jim Roberts and I would have been happy with even 1/4 of the beautiful and amazing things we saw.  This was as good as many springtime trips when the desert is in full bloom, yet it is DECEMBER!!!!

The top news from this trip is that Petalonyx linearis is BACK! We thought this sub-shrub was extirpated from ABDSP after it disappeared from all known locations.  But we found 33 very happy plants at the location where it has been seen twice before, on 25 March 1984 by Duffie Clemons, and on 12 March 2012 by Karyn Sauber and myself.

On seeing these plants appear again, I immediately realized that these were "monsoonal facultative annuals" in our area, or very short-lived subshrubs, just like Eucnide rupestris.  That is, they are longer-lived plants elsewhere, in areas with reliable summer rain, but not here in most years.  So they disappeared not because they were extirpated, but because they hadn't received enough monsoonal rain to re-appear.

They clearly need a good summer rain to germinate. That part is not unusual; many of our shrubs germinate primarily from summer rains.

Many perennial plants (including shrubs) can flower in their first year, so that is not terribly unusual, either.

The only way they can survive a full year or more is if they get good winter rain after they germinate from a summer rain, and then the next summer has good rain as well.  This happens in most of its range, but not here.  Hence they are effectively annuals here.

Don, Jim and I posted 42 observations of most of these 33 plants:


My posts show their habitat, with my colleagues having an immense amount of fun finding these rare plants:


Don took this great pix looking back down from one of the highest plants he was able to reach:


The almost-as-top news was that there were flowers, flowers, everywhere!  We noted 65 (SIXTY FIVE) species in bloom.  And most of those species were not just represented by one or two plants.

Many of the flowering plants are in the 159 obs of 60 species posted by Don, Jim and me:


Don posted 72 obs of 49 species; Jim posted 60 obs of 30 species; and I posted 27 obs of 7 species.

There were thousands of Perityle plants in bloom.  There were something like 50 beautiful Bigelow's monkeyflower in bloom, and almost as many ghost plants with flowers.  Both Mentzelia hirsutissima and M. involucrata were in bloom, with two huge plants of each species growing right next to each other for an easy comparison of the two.

There were other delights along the way, of species we hadn't seen in bloom yet this year, such as the first Chaenactis carphoclinia, Eriophyllum wallacei, Phacelia crenulata, and broad-leaf Gilia, Aliciella latifolia.

See the link above for pix of these beauties, some of which are also discussed and linked below.


As has been the case for some time now, there was not much in bloom along S2 until we passed the Vallecito Stage Station, and rounded the bend toward Agua Caliente County Park and flower paradise right now. It is easy to see where flower paradise begins, since the road is lined with Datura discolor and Abronia villosa in bloom.

Ted, Don and I met Jim at the parking area for Canyon 41 at 11:30 a.m.  The temp was a pleasant 65 deg.

The hills in the distance were still magenta from the fields of Abronia villosa in bloom.

The north-facing hillside right in the parking area was absolutely amazing.  It was filled with annuals, including the first Chaenactis carphoclinia in bloom, and a number of plants of Eremothera refracta, which I hadn't seen for a very long time, and Cryptantha maritima.

The amazing thing about seeing Chaenactis carphoclinia in bloom is that it is usually one of the last spring annuals to bloom!

Pix of Eremothera refracta (the flowers don't fully open until dusk):

Jim's post:

Don's post:

We could have spent an hour or more just on this hillside, but we didn't since we wanted to get as deeply into Canyon 41 as possible.

We started hiking at 11:50 a.m., and got into the Canyon 41 wash at noon, where we were greeted by our first Mentzelia hirsutissima in bloom.

Don's post:

Jim's post:

Don took this pix soon after we entered the Canyon 41 wash, with the road pointing the way to the Canyon 41 entrance:


Canyon 41 angles to the upper right of the pix.

We soon came across a huge mass of our endemic species Cuscuta psorothamnensis, which was in bloom!

Jim's pix:

Don's pix:

Soon after that, Ted spotted a ghost flower in bloom:

Jim's post:

My post:

Once we saw ghost flower in bloom, we knew it was going to be an even more-fantastic day than we had expected from that first amazing north-facing hillside.  And we didn't see just those first ghost flowers in bloom, we saw them almost throughout our hike. Some additional pix:

My post:

Don's post:

The walls of the wash, and the canyon walls, were covered with Perityle in bloom essentially everywhere.  They were so glorious that I took pix in six different locations where I just couldn't stop myself from taking more pix.

Here are some of my pix, in time order hiking up the canyon:


My posts, with additional pix and locations, are here:


We were in seventh heaven, but had no idea just how fantastic the day was about to become.

We got to the Petalonyx linearis location at 12:50 p.m., and I wasn't expecting to see any.  But almost immediately we spotted a plant that was easily reached, and it was IN BLOOM!  We were like kids in a candy store studying, counting, and photographing the plants.

How utterly wonderful!

The pix are linked above.

After a half hour of sheer bliss, we continued on to see what other delights were in store for us.

We were very pleased to find two huge plants of Mentzelia hirsutissima and M. involucrata growing right next to each other, for an easy comparison of the two.

My post has some labeled pix of the differences:


Don's pix:

Jim's pix:

We were delighted to see our first Bigelow's Monkeyflower, and even more delighted when we saw plants that each had a number of flowers.

My post:

Jim's post:

Don's post:

Here are all 9 of our posts:


We even saw these two species blooming side by side.  Don's pix:


I could go on and on about the species we saw, but I don't have time to do that.  Use the main link above to see the other beauties.

Jim turned around at about 3 p.m., and I started hustling toward the Inner Pasture, with Don and Ted following.

Due to all the time spent with wonderful flowers, I didn't think I'd make it by 3:30 p.m., when we needed to turn around, and I was right.  We got pretty close, though, making it to the fence where we were just 0.4 miles away from entering Inner Pasture, by 3:15 p.m.  We took a cookie break there, and headed back to the cars.

Don took this pix looking back up the canyon soon after we rounded the first bend in the canyon heading back:


We were walking down canyon at a fairly rapid pace when I suddenly spotted a rosy boa in front of us!  Don's pix:


The snake was quite lethargic, a very cooperative subject for Don's camera.

We made it back to the cars with the last drop of sunlight, arriving there at 5:12 p.m., 34 minutes after sunset, feeling very fortunate to have been on this trip.

tom chester