Don Rideout, Jim Roberts and I botanized the Villager Peak Trail to Rattlesnake Canyon, and then spent some serious time slowly exploring Rattlesnake Canyon for monsoonal plants.

We mostly hiked the VP Trail, but stopped twice to check on Echinocactus (Homalocephala) plants.  First, we took repeat photography of one plant photographed by Fred and Carla on 6 February 2019 that was a bit off-trail:

It looked essentially the same four years later; my pix and Don's pix:

We also checked on the plant right next to the trail, a bit farther up, that had been alive when I first photographed it in 2010, but appeared completely dead 11 years later.  It still appeared dead on this trip, although two of the barrels we weren't entirely sure about until Don pulled on their spines a bit.

My pix from 2010 and 2019 and Don's pix from 16 Jan 2022:

My pix from this trip:

We stopped to photograph some Pectis that was still looking good, and discovered a baby ocotillo!  We thought at first that it still had a cotyledon, but one of my pix showed that was a young leaf on a side shoot at the base of the plant.

Don's post:

My post:

The bloom was noticeably less along this part of the VP Trail than when Jim and I had hiked it a month earlier on 4 November 2022. What was most amazing was than a diamond (pencil) cholla, C. ramosissima, that was in striking full bloom then, had no easily-visible remnants at all of either the blooms from then, or any fruit.  Even though we were looking for it on the way up, to see if it had any blooms left, we didn't recognize it when we passed it due to the complete lack of obvious evidence that it had flowered recently.

On the way back, we looked more closely at it, and could see the minute flower base remnants on it.

Jim and my pix from 4 November 2022:

My pix from this trip:

We first explored the hillsides a bit downstream from the mouth of Rattlesnake Canyon, looking for any interesting monsoonal plants, and then went into Rattlesnake Canyon to do the same.  We were also looking for baby plants of shrubs like Peucephyllum schottii and Senegalia, and hoping to see plants of Plagiobothrys jonesii (now Simpsonanthus jonesii, named for Mike Simpson of SDSU.)

Jim and Don did some great exploration of some of the hillsides, while I mostly surveyed the less-dangerous bases.  Don's pix of Jim up on one of the hillsides:

We found mostly the usual hillside suspects, such as abundant Perityle emoryi in bloom, mostly dried up Boerhavia, both species of Bouteloua, Aristida adscensionis, some Pectis still blooming, and lots of Chamaesyce, and occasional Hibiscus, Horsfordia, and desert tobacco in bloom.

We did find one glorious specimen of heartleaf suncup in full bloom.  Don's post:

There was a carpet of yellowhead, Trichoptilium, in another spot; Don's post:

And one barrel cactus had one open bloom and one bud; Don's post:

We found only a single young plant of what could be the Plagio jonesii, and one of what could be Cryptantha barbigera fergusoniae.

As we were exploring further on our way back down the Canyon, I nearly stepped on another baby ocotillo, and we found a third one on the VP trail on our way back.  Looking at pix online, these were clearly first year plants, so we found a total of three ocotillos that had germinated this summer.

Don's post of the first of the other two plants:

My post of that same plant:

My post of the third plant:

On the way back down Jim spotted a single Mammy tet:

Jim's post:

My post:

Don's pix of me leaving Rattlesnake Canyon:

Don's pix of Rattlesnake Canyon in the shadows above my head:

Don, Jim and I posted 45 obs of 26 species:,tchester,lagoondon

Don posted 29 obs of 23 species; I posted 14 obs of 8 species; and Jim posted 2 obs of 2 species, since he was busy attending the Sentenac Cienega Symposium on the two days after this hike

Other details:

Don and I stopped at the Henderson Canyon Road Geraea spot, and the flowers are still going gang-busters.  Don's pix:

We noted 36 species in bloom:

#Pls in bloom   name

99    Achyronychia cooperi
99    Aristida adscensionis
99    Chamaesyce polycarpa
99    Cryptantha angustifolia
99    Ditaxis lanceolata
99    Pectis papposa var. papposa
99    Perityle emoryi
99    Physalis crassifolia
99    Trichoptilium incisum

50    Allionia incarnata var. incarnata
50    Hyptis emoryi

30    Tidestromia suffruticosa var. oblongifolia

10    Bebbia juncea var. aspera
10    Encelia farinosa var. farinosa
10    Pseudorontium cyathiferum

5    Abronia villosa var. villosa
5    Aristida purpurea
5    Dalea mollis
5    Fagonia laevis
5    Hibiscus denudatus
5    Horsfordia newberryi
5    Nicotiana obtusifolia

2    Chylismia cardiophylla ssp. cardiophylla
2    Funastrum hirtellum
2    Palafoxia arida var. arida

1    Adenophyllum porophylloides
1    Cryptantha maritima
1    Encelia frutescens
1    Euphorbia eriantha
1    Ferocactus cylindraceus
1    Krameria bicolor
1    Larrea tridentata
1    Marina parryi
1    Pleurocoronis pluriseta
1    Psorothamnus schottii
1    Senegalia greggii

tom chester