Posted by: Sandy Steinman | March 1, 2012

Southern Arizona Wildflower Updates 2/29/12

Boyce Thompson Arboretum just posted the following wildflower bloom report for the Peachville Mountain area, Arboretum and Queens Creek  Canyon area:

If you drive Highway 60 east to the Arboretum this week watch for wildflowers that border 20 miles of this scenic highway approaching the gardens from Gold Canyon eastwards – a colorful palette of lupine, globemallow, brittlebush and fairy duster. Here in our gardens native Sonoran Desert wildflowers began showing back in January – and now there are at least two dozen colorful species to see and photograph along the 1.5 mile long Main Trail.
Photographers looking for big landscapes of flower-covered hillsides should check out the hillsides four miles due north of the Arboretum, in the National Forest on Peachville Mountain

Superior residents report massive hillsides of lupine and Mexican goldpoppies blooming on Peachville Mountain north of here. Hillside swaths of Mexican Goldpoppies, hundreds of acres worth, cover Peachville Mountain — which can be accessed by either of two well-maintained Forest Service dirt roads: Happy Camp Road (off Hewitt Station road), and also the Silver King Mine road closer to Superior.

Camera-ready clumps of Fetid Marigold are trailside immediately as you start down the main trail below the visitor center, then look for vigorous clumps of Wild Rhubarb just past the Smith Building. The Cactus Garden offers the opportunity to compare three blooming lupines (Coulter’s, Bajada & Silver) and see Western Dayflower, hot-pink Parry’s Penstemon, rattlesnakeweed spurge, and Odora (also known as Yerba de Venado). Watch for Chuparosa near the Boojum Trees, and low thickets of Amsinckia (fiddlenecks) just below Ayer Lake.

Walking past and above AYER LAKE watch for native shrubs such as Mormon Tea and Tomatillo, and trailside patches of Purple Bladderpod, Bluedicks, and Phacelia – the latter with its signature “scorpion tail” curled inforescence. Watch for this endemic shrub, too — even though flowers on Rhyolite Bush are past their prime, hundreds of white flowers still cover many our native Crossosoma bigelovii, also known as Ragged Rock Flower. Find these above Ayer Lake and also along the ‘switchbacks’ section of trail that descends below Picketpost Mansion. Monkey flower is a rare find – and there’s one tiny patch of this just getting started approximately across from the “Rattlesnakes Only” sign above Ayer Lake.

DOWN ALONG QUEEN CREEK in the shaded riparian area the trail is bordered by thickets of Blue Phacelia (Wild Heliotrope, Phacelia distans) that aren’t blooming yet, but will be quite impressive here in another week or two. Climbing above are robust vines of Wild Cucumber (Marah gilensis) snaking up and through jojobas and other unwitting host plants — reaching aggressively skyward with green tendrils and clusters of tiny starfish-shaped white flowers. Its hard to believe all that growth happened in less than one month, and that in another few months these ephemeral vines will begin to dried up, fragment and fall back to the earth – disappearing til next Spring.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Cass Blodgett leads weekly “learn your Sonoran Desert wildflowers” walks at Boyce Thompson Arboretum starting March 3. Also on March 3 Arizona author Colleen Miniuk-Sperry will also lead two duplicate morning and afternoon “where to find & how to shoot wildflowers” workshops.


Drivers who continue past the Arboretum and superior, proceeding another two miles up into Queen Creek Canyon on highway 60 can be rewarded with views of vigorous Stachys Coccinea (Red Mint, shown in the photo at left); Tufted Evening primrose, Firecracker Penstemon, Deer Vetch, Rhyolite Bush, fragrant Berberis — and the unusual greenish-yellow flowering euphorbia known as Woodland Spurge.


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