Flora of Borrego Badlands Area

Voucher Records
Field Surveys
Summary of Checklist and Species Not Found


This page has been updated on 22 January 2019, from more recent surveys, a new voucher search, and an iNaturalist search, but the text on most of the page has not yet been updated.

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.

I have rejected one taxon, Mirabilis laevis var. villosa, that has two vouchers, since those are almost surely Mirabilis laevis var. retrorsa. It is difficult to properly determine some specimens of those two species that do not have the lower stems in the voucher sample, since those two varieties can look very similar in their inflorescence. All plants we've checked in this area have the retrose lower stem hairs of var. retrorsa.

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

See also print versions of these floras for specific areas, which may have been updated later than the checklist below:


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

The column with header Famil is the first five letters of the Family Name.

The column with label BW links to the photo gallery page for each species at Fred Melgert and Carla Hoegen's BorregoWildflowers site.

The column #V gives the number of vouchers for this area, with a maximum value of 99.

The column iNat gives the number of iNaturalist observations for this area, with a maximum value of 99.

The columns with the header #Pls gives the minimum number of plants for each species observed in all areas, up to a maximum of 99. If we have not observed a species in our surveys, but it appears in Fred Melgert and Carla Hoegen's plant lists for here, the column contains FC.

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.

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
Link goes to the Jepson eflora
(*)Common Name
Link goes to Calphotos
1AmaraAmaranthus fimbriatusfringed amaranthBW  99
2AmaraTidestromia suffruticosa var. oblongifoliaArizona honeysweetBW2499
3ApocyAsclepias albicanswhite-stemmed milkweedBW  3
4ApocyAsclepias subulatarush milkweedBW71431
5ApocyFunastrum hirtellumrambling milkweedBW1311
6ApodaPilostyles thurberiThurber's pilostylesBW7 46
7AsterAmbrosia dumosaburroweedBW74299
8AsterAmbrosia salsola var. salsolacheesebushBW141299
9AsterBaileya pauciradiataColorado Desert marigoldBW7399
10AsterBebbia juncea var. asperasweetbushBW2499
11AsterCalycoseris parryiyellow tackstemBW1  
12AsterCalycoseris wrightiiwhite tackstemBW2666
13AsterChaenactis artemisiifoliameally white pincushionBW1  
14AsterChaenactis carphoclinia var. carphocliniapebble pincushionBW2699
15AsterChaenactis carphoclinia var. peirsoniiPeirson's pincushionBW6299
16AsterChaenactis stevioidesdesert pincushionBW5299
17AsterDicoria canescensdesert dicoriaBW7899
18AsterEncelia farinosabrittlebushBW6899
19AsterEncelia farinosa var. farinosabrittlebushBW311FC
20AsterEncelia farinosa var. phenicodontapurple disk flower brittlebushBW 4FC
21AsterEncelia frutescensbutton enceliaBW81499
22AsterGeraea canescenshairy desert-sunflowerBW124299
23AsterHelianthus niveus ssp. tephrodesAlgodones Dunes sunflower 2  
24AsterHelianthus petiolaris ssp. canescensgray desert sunflowerBW5192
25AsterIsocoma acradenia var. acradeniaentire-leaved alkali goldenbushBW2 FC
26AsterIsocoma acradenia var. eremophilatoothed-leaved alkali goldenbushBW52099
27AsterLogfia depressadwarf filagoBW  30
28AsterMalacothrix glabratadesert dandelionBW5575
29AsterMonoptilon bellioidesdesert starBW10499
30AsterPalafoxia arida var. aridaSpanish needleBW142999
31AsterPectis papposa var. papposachinch-weedBW33099
32AsterPerityle emoryiEmory's rock-daisyBW61099
33AsterPeucephyllum schottiipygmy-cedarBW413
34AsterPleurocoronis plurisetaarrow-leafBW  5
35AsterPsathyrotes ramosissimaturtlebackBW125
36AsterRafinesquia neomexicanadesert chicoryBW81999
37AsterSonchus asper ssp. asper*prickly sow thistleBW 1 
38AsterSonchus oleraceus*sow thistleBW1 4
39AsterStephanomeria exigua ssp. exiguaslender wreathplantBW1  
40AsterStephanomeria pauciflorawire-lettuceBW31399
41AsterTrichoptilium incisumyellow-headBW1 21
42AsterXylorhiza orcuttiiOrcutt's woody-asterBW249599
43BignoChilopsis linearis ssp. arcuatadesert-willowBW34099
44BoragCryptantha angustifolianarrow-leaved cryptanthaBW18799
45BoragCryptantha barbigera var. barbigerabearded cryptanthaBW1 24
46BoragCryptantha barbigera var. fergusoniaeSanta Rosa Mountain bearded cryptanthaBW9 99
47BoragCryptantha costataribbed cryptanthaBW1199
48BoragCryptantha ganderiGander's cryptanthaBW2  
49BoragCryptantha maritimaGuadalupe cryptanthaBW7399
50BoragCryptantha micrantha var. micranthared-root cryptanthaBW  48
51BoragEucrypta micranthadesert eucryptaBW1 48
52BoragPectocarya heterocarpachuckwalla pectocaryaBW5199
53BoragPectocarya peninsularisBaja pectocaryaBW  99
54BoragPectocarya platycarpabroad-fruited combseedBW1 15
55BoragPectocarya recurvatacurvenut combseedBW1121
56BoragPhacelia crenulata var. ambiguaheliotrope phaceliaBW123399
57BoragPhacelia crenulata var. minutifloralittle-flowered heliotrope phaceliaBW4 6
58BoragPhacelia ivesianaIves' phaceliaBW  FC
59BoragTiquilia palmeriPalmer's coldeniaBW61899
60BoragTiquilia plicataplicate coldeniaBW2599
61BrassBrassica tournefortii*Asian mustardBW113199
62BrassCaulanthus lasiophyllusCalifornia mustardBW  42
63BrassDithyrea californicaspectacle-podBW91299
64BrassLepidium lasiocarpum ssp. lasiocarpumhairy-podded pepper-grassBW81399
65BrassSisymbrium irio*London rocketBW1 99
66BrassStreptanthella longirostrislongbeak streptanthellaBW3 99
67CactaCylindropuntia echinocarpasilver chollaBW37299
68CactaCylindropuntia ramosissimapencil chollaBW31899
69CactaEchinocactus polycephalus var. polycephaluscottontop cactusBW  1
70CactaFerocactus cylindraceusCalifornia barrel cactusBW224
71CactaMammillaria tetrancistradesert fish-hook cactusBW 14
72CactaOpuntia basilaris var. basilarisbeavertail cactusBW 660
73CampaNemacladus tenuis var. tenuisdesert threadplantBW1 1
74CaryoAchyronychia cooperifrost matBW9699
75ChenoAtriplex canescens var. laciniataCaleb saltbushBW 1499
76ChenoAtriplex elegans var. fasciculatawheelscaleBW1 99
77ChenoAtriplex hymenelytradesert hollyBW145099
78ChenoAtriplex polycarpacattle saltbushBW 399
79ChenoChenopodium murale*nettle-leaved goosefootBW1 1
80ChenoMonolepis nuttallianaNuttall's poverty weedBW  FC
81ChenoSalsola paulsenii*Paulsen's Russian thistleBW1161
82ChenoSuaeda nigrabush seepweedBW 135
83CleomCleomella obtusifoliaMojave cleomellaBW9899
84EuphoChamaesyce abramsianaAbrams' prostrate spurge   99
85EuphoChamaesyce micromeraSonoran spurgeBW3599
86EuphoChamaesyce ocellata ssp. arenicolasand spurge  11
87EuphoChamaesyce polycarpasmall-seeded spurgeBW91199
88EuphoChamaesyce setilobastarfish (Yuma) spurgeBW  99
89EuphoCroton californicusCalifornia crotonBW91199
90EuphoDitaxis lanceolatanarrowleaf ditaxisBW1 43
91EuphoDitaxis neomexicanaNew Mexico ditaxisBW  9
92EuphoStillingia spinulosaannual stillingiaBW9799
93FabacAcmispon maritimus var. brevivexillusshort-bannered coastal lotusBW  5
94FabacAcmispon strigosusstrigose lotusBW4299
95FabacAstragalus aridusannual desert milk-vetch   1
96FabacAstragalus crotalariaeSalton milk-vetchBW13599
97FabacAstragalus didymocarpus var. dispermusdwarf white milk-vetchBW1 7
98FabacAstragalus lentiginosus var. borreganusBorrego milk-vetchBW14199
99FabacDalea mollissilky daleaBW5399
100FabacDalea mollissimadowny daleaBW3247
101FabacLupinus arizonicusArizona lupineBW61599
102FabacLupinus shockleyidesert lupineBW 427
103FabacParkinsonia floridablue palo verdeBW5699
104FabacProsopis glandulosa var. torreyanahoney mesquiteBW1143
105FabacPsorothamnus emoryiEmory's indigo-bushBW121499
106FabacPsorothamnus schottiiindigo bushBW53499
107FabacPsorothamnus spinosussmoke treeBW41799
108FabacSenegalia greggiicatclawBW 299
109FouquFouquieria splendens ssp. splendensocotilloBW75399
110GeranErodium cicutarium*redstem filareeBW1 17
111GeranErodium texanumTexas filareeBW1699
112KrameKrameria bicolorwhite rhatanyBW42499
113KrameKrameria erectaPima rhatanyBW3899
114LamiaHyptis emoryidesert-lavenderBW7299
115LamiaSalvia columbariaechiaBW1 5
116LoasaMentzelia affinisyellow blazing starBW  1
117LoasaMentzelia albicauliswhite-stemmed blazing starBW  20
118LoasaMentzelia involucratabracted blazing starBW31134
119LoasaPetalonyx thurberi ssp. thurberiThurber's sandpaper-plantBW41099
120MalvaEremalche exiliswhite mallowBW  6
121MalvaEremalche rotundifoliadesert five-spotBW 699
122MalvaHibiscus denudatusrock hibiscusBW  13
123MalvaMalva parviflora*cheeseweedBW  2
124MolluMollugo cerviana*carpet-weedBW  10
125MontiCalyptridium monandrumsand cressBW  13
126MontiCistanthe ambiguadead man's fingersBW81599
127NyctaAbronia villosa var. villosahairy sand-verbenaBW195299
128NyctaAllionia incarnata var. incarnatasmall-flowered trailing four o'clockBW1299
129NyctaBoerhavia wrightiiWright's spiderlingBW1 3
130NyctaMirabilis laevis var. retrorsaBigelow's desert four-o'clockBW4171
131OnagrChylismia cardiophylla ssp. cardiophyllaheartleaf suncupBW428
132OnagrChylismia claviformis ssp. peirsoniibrown-eyed primroseBW133999
133OnagrEremothera boothii ssp. condensataBooth's evening primroseBW51599
134OnagrEulobus californicusCalifornia suncupBW6699
135OnagrOenothera deltoides ssp. deltoidesdune primroseBW32699
136OrobaOrobanche cooperiCooper's broomrapeBW711
137PapavEschscholzia minutiflora ssp. minutiflorasmall-flowered poppyBW7399
138PapavEschscholzia parishiiParish's poppyBW7699
139PlantMohavea confertifloraghost flowerBW  11
140PlantPlantago ovatadesert plantainBW91099
141PolemAliciella latifolia ssp. latifoliabroad-leaf giliaBW71599
142PolemGilia stellatastar giliaBW  4
143PolemLangloisia setosissima ssp. setosissimabristly langloisiaBW41149
144PolemLinanthus jonesiiJones' linanthusBW  75
145PolemLoeseliastrum matthewsiidesert calicoBW4220
146PolemLoeseliastrum schottiiSchott's calicoBW  99
147PolygChorizanthe brevicornu var. brevicornubrittle spineflowerBW9499
148PolygChorizanthe corrugatawrinkled spineflowerBW5299
149PolygChorizanthe rigidadevil's spineflowerBW53799
150PolygEriogonum deflexum var. deflexumflat-topped buckwheatBW3845
151PolygEriogonum inflatumdesert trumpetBW1199
152PolygEriogonum thomasiiThomas' buckwheatBW10699
153PolygEriogonum trichopeslittle desert trumpetBW52599
154ResedOligomeris linifolialineleaf whitepuffBW7599
155SolanDatura discolordesert thornappleBW  99
156SolanLycium brevipes var. brevipesdesert boxthornBW 868
157SolanNicotiana obtusifoliadesert tobaccoBW3 10
158SolanPhysalis crassifoliathick-leaved ground cherryBW1168
159TamarTamarix aphylla*athelBW 1 
160TamarTamarix ramosissima*saltcedarBW 1FC
161ViscaPhoradendron californicumdesert mistletoeBW4199
162ZygopFagonia laevisCalifornia fagoniaBW 176
163ZygopFagonia pachyacanthasticky fagoniaBW  12
164ZygopKallstroemia californicaCalifornia caltropBW3599
165ZygopLarrea tridentatacreosote bushBW246099
166ZygopTribulus terrestris*puncture-vineBW  2
167AgavaAgave deserti var. desertidesert agaveBW  1
168AgavaHesperocallis undulatadesert lilyBW1111699
169ArecaWashingtonia filiferaCalifornia fan palmBW 123
170JuncaJuncus cooperiCooper's rushBW115
171PoaceAristida adscensionissix-weeks three-awnBW5399
172PoaceAristida californicaCalifornia three-awn   3
173PoaceBouteloua aristidoides var. aristidoidesneedle gramaBW2 4
174PoaceBouteloua barbata var. barbatasix-weeks gramaBW  44
175PoaceBromus madritensis ssp. rubens*red bromeBW2  
176PoaceCynodon dactylon*Bermuda grassBW  10
177PoaceDasyochloa pulchellafluff grassBW  50
178PoaceDistichlis spicatasaltgrassBW2399
179PoaceHilaria rigidabig galletaBW142899
180PoaceHordeum murinum*foxtail barleyBW  99
181PoacePhragmites australiscommon reedBW  10
182PoaceSchismus barbatus*Mediterranean schismusBW10199
183PoaceStipa hymenoidesIndian ricegrassBW44FC

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Copyright © 2007-2019 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:
Comments and feedback: Tom Chester
Last update: 10 February 2019