purpose of this hike was to see if any Phacelia rotundifolia had
germinated from the summer / fall rains in the location originally
found by Sheriff Woody on the east side of the Coyote Mountains, near
Clark Dry Lake. It didn't look very promising to survey for it,
since there was hardly anything blooming where we parked our cars
along Rockhouse Canyon Road just before it crosses Clark Dry Lake.
Nonetheless, we were there, and the limestone outcrop on which it was found was only 3/4 mile away, so we went there.
Don took this pix of us hiking toward the outcrop:
Pretty bleak! There were a few scattered Dalea mollis, and some Plantago ovata, but that was about it.
Here's Don's pix of the west edge of Clark Dry Lake, showing an even-bleaker looking landscape:
I was more optimistic when we got to the limestone outcrop, since there was fairly abundant Perityle in bloom, albeit mostly small plants, and we had a good team of sharp-eyed people looking for it: Ted Caragozian, Walt Fidler, Sharon Gott, Don Rideout, and myself. But despite spending a full half hour scouring the limestone outcrops, we found no P. rotundifolia at all, just tons of Perityle.
My pix of the limestone outcrop:
I think that is Don in the last pix. You can also see a Perityle in bloom at the bottom middle of that pix.
Don took this pix from one of the higher places in the outcrops, showing me trying to get around a ridge from one Phacelia rotundifolia location to another; Clark Dry Lake; and the Santa Rosa Mountains beyond:
and this pix looking a bit to the south looking toward Rattlesnake Canyon and Lute Ridge:
It was tough moving around the limestone, since our limestone weathers to some very sharp edges. Ted said those sharp edges could rip up the bottoms of our hiking boots, and I certainly had to be very careful when placing my hands on the rocks.
We got back to the cars at 2:00 p.m., and decided to survey the edge of Clark Dry Lake to the north, primarily to get some hiking in. Just ten minutes after we started hiking, Walt called us over after he found an annual he had never seen before. It turned out to be Nama hispida, a species that none of us had seen before! (I thought I had seen it once before, at the Crucifixion Thorn Natural Area, but I have no record of that, possibly because it was long finished when I saw it.)
That was very exciting, the find of the day. We found it in another location as well, not too far away.
What was really surprising is that these plants germinated in those two areas despite there being no annuals at all in 99% of the area we hiked near the lake.
Joe Woods drove by just at the right time to see these plants with us.
Our 7 iNat posts of Nama hispida:
This species had only been seen once before in Clark Valley, from a voucher from
For some reason, that voucher wasn't present in my downloads in 2008 and 2016, so I hadn't known about it until now. There is another voucher from "Borrego Valley", which is either from this location or closer to Ocotillo Wells. The only other iNat obs of this species in our area are near Ocotillo Wells, and the Crucifixion Thorn Natural Area near Ocotillo.
Don and I posted 50 obs of 31 species from our trip, which included five posts from Henderson Canyon Road on the drive back to Don's Borrego House:
Don posted 25 obs of 21 species; I posted 25 obs of 20 species.
We found only 11 species in bloom on our hike, plus four at Henderson Canyon Road.
Other details from this trip:
On my drive in, I stopped at the manzanitas near the San Luis Rey picnic area, which were in full bloom:
On 27 December 2022, there was an absolutely gorgeous manzanita in bloom on the other (north) side of the highway, a bit farther toward Lake Henshaw, but it was too dangerous to walk to it on this trip due to heavy traffic going west. It was still in good bloom on this day.
The wind was really blowing along the Montezuma Grade, but was quiet in Borrego Springs.
The plants on the Montezuma Grade still looked pretty dry overall, except for some Perityle plants in bloom near the bottom of the Grade.
It was 61 deg when we parked near Clark Dry Lake around noon. There was a bit of wind there, but it vanished as we walked toward the limestone area. The wind re-appeared a few times later in the day when we walked in the Dry Lake Area.
The first order of business after we parked was to photograph Lycium brevipes, since Don and I had never posted pix of that species at iNat. Fortunately, Walt had found one plant with one bloom near the cars, so we went there first. Our posts of that plant:
Surprisingly, although there were one zillion L. brevipes plants ringing the edge of the dry lake, we only found three total flowers, one each on three separate bushes, and very few fruit, either.
Although it wasn't abundantly clear that this area had gotten recent rain in most areas, we did find a puddle along Rockhouse Canyon road near the quarry. Don's pix:
Ted and Sharon turned around soon after we saw Walt's Nama, while Walt, Don and I continued north.
After seeing the second location of Nama hispida, we noticed that the gate to the quarry was open, without any "no trespassing" sign for the main gate, so we hiked along the old Rockhouse Canyon Road that was closed off by the Quarry. (There was a "no trespassing sign" on a second gate that led to the quarry site to the south.)
There was a little shack next to the old Road that was pretty clearly not part of the quarry. It had a sign on it titled "Peace House", saying it was built by two people. (:-) Don's pix:
When the old road joined the new road across the lake, we decided to head east to see if we could find anything different. We didn't.
We did find a huge field of Suaeda. After traipsing through that for some time, we gave up trying to find anything different and made a beeline across the lake to the cars.
My post of one Suaeda plant a bit separated from the rest, with pix showing the vast field in the distance:
The fourth pix show Walt and Don at the plant, ahead of me on the way back.
Don took a pix of me there as well:
The Geraea plants were still beautiful in their field along Henderson Canyon Road, along with the Abronia, and now the Oenothera deltoides. My pix: