Thursday, July 06, 2006

A Stop for Flowers on the White Spar Road

We'd been down to Wilhoit, on the other side of the Prietas, and were tooling up the highway headed for Prescott. I caught sight of this field of bright yellow flowers -- not what I would have expected at the turnoff to Pondrosa Park. So we stopped to explore and take pictures.

The bright yellow was courtesy of a big patch of Mexican Hat -- an Arizona wildflower, but not one found in the forest locally in my experience. Very likely an ADOT seeding. Finding Rocky Mountain Penstemon plants scattered among the yellows sealed my verdict. I've seen this purple flowered penstemon growing wild around Prescott, but usually near a location where it had been cultivated. Look for these flowers up in the Flagstaff area, where they are probably native.

The pink Palmer's Penstemon above was well past the blooming stage, with lots of fat seed pods and two lonely blossoms left. This is a prolific native in the woods hereabouts and highly recommended for gardens.

Periodically, the highway department seeds wildflowers along roadway embankments -- I applaud! You can thank them for the California poppies along SR 69 on the east side of Prescott Valley or the Desert Marigolds further south on the same road near Cordes Junction.

Of course such seedings don't always take. One year, ADOT sent a vehicle to seed along SR 89 south of the Prietas. A local who was watching this operation told us that there was a flock of birds following right behind. No flowers that year.

It seems that no spot along the White Spar is complete without the remains of a campfire. Just in case you wonder why the Forest Service people are uptight about human-caused fires.

The White Spar parallels Granite Creek coming down from higher elevations. A hundred yards or so downhill from the highway where we parked, there's the creek, with little pools of water. It's certainly moister, enough so that scattered columbines are happy next to a decaying tree trunk. And the seed pods on the white loco were were hard to miss. A welcome interlude in the middle of a pleasant drive!

1 comment:

Karen of Scottsdale said...

Mexican hat flowers remind me of the black-eyed Susan's I would see while living in southern Louisiana as a youngster. The locals had a name for them that is not polite to repeat today.

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