Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The desert in bloom

There! I've pulled together the wildflower shots from Sunday's expedition to the desert next the Santa Maria River (elevation, roughly 1800 ft.). A few disappointments: none of the chia pix worked, my assorted field guides (the kind with pretty pictures) didn't help ID in too many cases, there were a lot of bad, throw-away images, and that lovely pale blue delphinium was nowhere in evidence.

Just to prove that this lush landscape is really desert, a scene-setting view that includes a saguaro cactus in the background (the straight-up fellow in the middle.) The poppies were in full bloom, perhaps edging toward the end of their reign. California poppies or Mexican gold poppies? Currently, there's a debate, with the wildflower folk leaning toward a broad category -- all California poppies.

The poppies are varied, some pure gold, many with a center that is more orangish. Over in California, the poppies are a definite orange.

The poppy growth pattern was somewhat spotty along the Santa Maria Road on the east side of the river; however, my experience has been that if you opt for the paved road on the west side of the river, you won't see many wildflowers. Probably a major soil difference -- on the east, the soil is mostly volcanic and on the west, it's more granitic and alluvial. BTW, tho the lower elevation desert is famous for fields of California poppies, they grow quite nicely up here in Prescott, with the added advantage of being perennial.

Here is one of several mystery plants; it might be a member of the waterleaf family. Pretty even without a name.

Another nameless yellow. I was inclined toward the caltrop family (did you ever step on one of those awful bullheads in your bare feet down in the Valley?) But this flower is bigger, maybe 3/4 to 1 inch across, and the center doesn't look right.

A bladderpod for sure. Those little spherical seed pods will pop if you squeeze them.

I guess the desert marigold is a later blooming plant. We only saw a handful. There are great stands of this un-marigold along SR 69 as you head toward Mayer, courtesy of the highway department, so I hunch it might be a plant of slightly higher elevations. I've seen them even at about 5000 ft. on the West Spruce trail.

Tiny yellow flowers adorn the fiddleneck.

If you look carefully at the clear yellow flower to the top right , you'll realize that it is quite different from all those poppies. We saw just one small stand of these yellow evening primroses.

Enough of the yellows. Lupines (the two tallish purple stalks) are a major desert wildflower although we saw many more alongside the highway in road cuts than down at river level. The little lavenders? Mysteries. You tell me!

The third of the big-three of Arizona desert wildflowers -- owl clover. Again, only a few specimens at this location.

The lavender blossom on the right is a phacelia; there are many varieties of phacelia here in Arizona.

Along the Orme Road as it nears I-17, you'll see clouds of this pretty pink flower. It might be a gilia. Again, the field guides didn't help me.

Another pair of smallish lavender mystery blossoms (above and below.) Both covered a swath of ground. The lower guy might be a phacelia.

Nama? Whatever. As you can see, the plant forms a mat, with little pinkish-purple flowers.

We may have a Mojave desert star (above); the lower picture is of tackstem, which tended to grow in the shade of the palo verde trees or any other spot protected from the sun's heat.

The only tree trees blooming were willows in a stand at the rivers edge. We'll have to wait for the mesquite and the palo verde to blossom as well as the cactus. If you are planning a similar trip out the Bagdad Road for the wildflowers, I'd suggest you do it this weekend or perhaps next week. Unless we get a rain. Things are beginning to dry out.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yea! Finally!! Oh, only one post? LOL. Thank you, GJ, for the gorgeous flower fotos! They perked up my cereal and chai tea this morning!
~Anon in AV.

Changes in the wind said...

Pretty, pretty, pretty.......

Warren said...

Very nice shots -- next up the mesquite, acacia, palo verde; and the myriad of cactus blossums! Keep it up!

quilteddogs said...

Very nice! Our mesquite trees seemed to grow out leaves overnight. The brittle bushes in the front yard have been in bloom for a few weeks now. Guess I should be taking pictures instead of talking about it.

TomboCheck said...

As usual; great pictures GJ!

Catalyst said...

Thanks for the great pix, Granny J. I don't know if we're going to get out this year or not so it was good to see them. I also e-mailed your post to a friend in California who has been sending me pictures of the flora over there.

You Know Where You Are With said...

The little purple-pink flowers with the mat look to be filaree...and the purple flowers with the red stem are definitely scorpionweed.

I have labeled photos if you want me to send you by email...I went crazy researching in 2005.

JuliaR said...

So pretty. I haven't even dared start seeds indoors yet! But I will this weekend, with some herb seeds. They will go outdoors after the last risk of frost is past - near the end of May. May!

OmegaMom said...

Sigh...I'm jealous! It looks like it's a wonderful year for the wildflowers.

The "clouds of pink" down by Orme Road--might they be a wild phlox? The shape of the flower tubules fits...

Granny J said...

anon av -- desert flowers & cereal -- what a combo!

windy -- coming from a desert dweller, I truly appreciate your comment.

warren -- not to mention the bird of paradise tree...

qd -- we didn't see many brittle bush except higher up on some slopes.

tombo -- you should take a day off to see for yourself (and go wading in the river...)

cat-A -- glad to take you along for the ride.

ykwyaw -- actually, the mat flowers were larger and darker than filaree. I'd love to have your pictures; I was amazed at how many of the flowers were not in my guide books.

juliar -- i've never been able to start plants indoors; the damping off problem follows me to all corners of the world.

dotter -- so take a few days off & fly down! It will be gorgeous up here, too -- my favorite secret place for delphinium around the corner has many plants leafing out this year.

RV-boondocker-explorer said...

I like the photo of the poppies arranged in a circle. I prefer to think that you got lucky and found such an unusual shape in the field, rather than give in to temptation and...

Granny J said...

boonie -- look carefully & you'll notice that the pic is cut at the bottom. There was no circle beyond the lower boundary of the image & I tend to be too stiff to lean over to make a sweet arrangement of flowers. In the G.O.D., I used to do "gardening" for my husbands pictures.

theysaywordscanbleed said...

such beauties!

Arlene,
East Bremerton florist

Sonia said...

Wonderful photos! Love seeing wildflowers, they are gorgeous!

Granny J said...

Welcome, Arlene & Sonia, and be sure to drop by again -- we still have two seasons of mountain wildflowers coming up. Did I mention that I am nuts about wildflowers?

worldphotos4 said...

Super photos.

Granny J said...

thank you, steve, glad you enjoyed them.

smilnsigh said...

-sigh-

Another blogging friend is on holiday in your state. She shares flowers too.

-repeat sigh-

:-)

Granny J said...

SnS -- we don't always have the sort of winter rains we had this year; without them, the desert is sere! Next to blossom will be the desert perennials -- trees & cactus.

Desert Cat said...

Marvelous! They're doing like this down my way too, on the road out to the farm.

Granny J said...

DCat -- I love the desert in the fall and winter, but especially the spring when we've had winter rain. On the other hand, I don't think I could survive a summer in Phoenix or Tucson. I keep thinking about how brave you are to consider the desert as a haven...but then I recall my grandmother and mom and aunts, canning peaches in August down on Baseline Rd. long before even swamp coolers were popular there.

Desert Cat said...

I figure that I pay 2-1/2 months of hard weather for the other 9-1/2 months of beautiful weather. And even then I love the monsoon season for its own beauty, particularly when I'm out in the country and can watch the thunderheads from miles around.

The hot weather in May and June honestly doesn't bother me a bit. While the air is still dry, 105 is balmy and beautiful to me and I regularly work out in it all day.

Then again, I'm the guy who could appreciate the crystal clear crispness of a 35 degree below zero sunny Minnesota morning (just not the months of grey slogginess on either side of it.)

My sister came to visit last weekend from Minnesota. She's not like me and couldn't see what I see in the desert. Which is ok. Not everyone would fit into Arizona if they all wanted to be here.

Granny J said...

DCat -- My impression is that far too many folk who don't really appreciate the desert have crowded into it and never leave either the city or the golf course. Maybe that's just as well, tho we do lose a lot of desert just to house them in their air conditioned comfort.

 
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