15 March 2017

super bloom

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

The super bloom going on around Borrego Springs and in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is expected to reach its peak in the middle of March, so the Hundred Peaks Section planned a rare outing without any peaks to climb for the ides. Looking at just the cost of gas, the price of admission does seem staggering for a single day looking about. Still, this is supposed to be a 1 in 20 years level event, so I decided to get up in the early dark and get myself down there to see this bloom.

Henderson Field
First stop along Henderson under Coyote Peak.

Our first stop is along Henderson Road, but we have been seeing flowers for a while at this point. At first glance, there are only about three types of flowers in the field. Most noticeable are masses of yellow of desert sunflower. Big floppy white flowers of the dune evening primrose are quick to catch the eye. Big puffs of purple of desert sand verbena complete the initial colorful impression.

dune evening primrose
Dune evening primrose in the sun.

desert sunflower, dune evening primrose, desert sand verbena
Sunflowers standing over desert primrose and desert sand verbena. There are quite a few green stems that are not yet flowering, too.

desert sand verbena
Desert sand verbena ready to put out some more flowers in a day or two.

As we walk around, deeper into the field, there are a few more that were easy to overlook at first. Smaller and more elaborate brown-eyed evening primrose add splashes of color with their white. As we get closer to the creosote bushes, they are bursting with color.

brown-eyed evening primrose
Brown-eyed evening primrose.

creosote bush
Creosote bush at every stage from bud to seed.

flower field
Standing among the burst of flower growth.

yellow composite
A yellow composite flower I cannot find in the desert wildflower guides.

As we walk a little further, we even find a few pests. They are surprisingly large as they gobble away at the flowers.

A caterpillar rests at the end of a stem after eating.

We head off toward Coyote Canyon, but the road is quite full of vehicles and the warnings of sandy shoulders making passing difficult seem to be being heeded by most the passenger cars. But there are more flowers among the empty fields between citrus trees that could be orange, lemon, or grapefruit (but seem to be lemon). These fields look to be full of desert dandelions at first.

desert dandelion
A paloverde stands among desert dandelions and pincushions of some sort.

dandelions and much white
Dandelions with plenty more flowers. The white turns out to be popcorn flower as well as the pincushions.

pincushion and dandelion
A pincushion and a dandelion.

Again, more flowers are revealed as we walk about. The paloverde is not even close to blooming yet. The brittlebush is nothing but blooms.

An edge of the brittlebush ball next to some variegated desert daisies.

Close up on the brittlebush flowers.

popcorn flower
Close up of the tiny popcorn flowers.

Look a little closer and there is somehow something more to see.

caterpillar on thin flower
Another great big caterpillar has found a thin yellow flower to eat.

Spanish needle
Spanish needle.

Vital part of getting new flowers next year.

caterpillar on the move
A large caterpillar decides to get moving to another flowers.

desert chicory
Desert chicory.

white wooly daisy
White woolly daisy.

We take off for a little something that can be enjoyed all year: silly metal statues. These have been put up on a private landholding and are quite scattered. First, we find some more pests.

metal insects
I think Jimmy is a gonner.

Then we head off past a few more to a cactus that is surrounded by a new field of flowers to search through. It turns out we have good luck with cactuses around this one.

metal cactus among flowers
A false cactus in the distance among the flowers of Galleta Meadows.

beaver tail cactus
Flowering beaver tail cactus.

egg laying insects
Egg laying on blue phacelia.

desert lily
The desert lilies seem to stand alone away from the clusters.

Some fauna inspires me to change the lens for some close ups. The hummingbird waits just long enough for me to finish, then flies off before I can hit the button. This is probably why people run around with multiple cameras.

A hummingbird sits high in the ocotillo, none of which is blooming yet.

After a while, we take off for a more elaborate metal sculpture we saw on the way in. Apparently the Chamber of Commerce and a few other spots in town have a free handout that includes a map of the metal sculptures which are quite numerous.

dragon - a worm
The dragon serpent roars as one woman performs for her vlog.

We stop by the Visitor Center before leaving. They have a garden showcasing the plants of the area including some that are only found in very special places. This includes palms and elephant trees. There are a few more flowers, too, and some in bloom that were not at the various stops.

white cluster
Cheesebush, which has quite tiny flowers.

ocotillo flowers
The ocotillo are in bloom here, if only a little bit.

One of many cholla types, but this one is blooming.

desert lavender
Desert lavender.

bladder pod
Bladder pod in the garden.

As we finish, we take off for home. Resources I am using to identify plants are the Natural History Association plant quiz, DesertUSA flower guide, and the Mohave Desert wildflower list.

©2017 Valerie Norton
Posted 17 March 2017

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