Posted by: Sandy Steinman | April 1, 2017

Anza-Borrego Wildflower Updates 4/1/2017

Updates from Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and Anza-Borrego Desert Wildflowers.

Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association reports

The low elevation bloom in the Borrego Valley hit its peak about ten days ago.  Although the fields of flowers are gone now there are still many washes and canyons to explore with cacti, shrubs and annual flowers.          

Plum Canyon, just off of Highway 78, is still getting good reports with lots of shrubs in bloom.  The Cactus Loop Trail, near the Tamarisk Campground, is a good place to see cacti in bloom.  The area around the State Park Visitor Center is also a good place.  Glorieta Canyon, rising from the southwest side of the Borrego Valley is a great short hike, stunning right now and emerged in a bright yellow bloom of Brittlebush.  Yaqui Pass, at the south end of the Borrego valley, on S3, is also brilliant with its yellow display.  Beavertail cactus, with bright fuchsia colored flowers, are now in bloom in   many locations around the Borrego Valley.   Another good area to see flowers within a short walk of the car is the “ocotillo forest” south of Tilting T along Borrego Springs Road, with hundreds of ocotillo in full bloom and scatterings of desert dandelions covering the ground. 

See photos at Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park reports

The displays of annual wildflowers—sunflowers, sand verbena, and dune evening primrose—that earned the moniker “Superbloom” are on the downhill side of their peak, but many flowers are still to be found in Anza-Borrego.

1. The desert lilies have finally faded at Arroyo Salado, but some desert sunflowers persist there, and a fine patch of lupine blooms across the highway.

2. The ocotillos are finally blooming, and they are beautiful! Good places to look for them are: Highway S-22 toward the Salton Sea, Borrego Springs Road south of Tilting T, the junction of Borrego Springs Road and Highway 78, Yaqui Pass Road (also great for fragrant desert senna and cacti in bloom), and Ocotillo Flats, near Desert Gardens in Coyote Canyon (also good for fragrant indigo bush).

3. Rocky hillsides are aglow with the yellow flowers of brittlebush, making for a beautiful drive to the west up either Montezuma Grade (Highway S-22) or up and over Yaqui Pass Road (Highway S-3).

4. The Visitor Center remains the best place to see many varieties of cacti in bloom, as well as shrubs (indigo bush!) and annuals like desert dandelions and pincushion.

The steep, one-mile loop of the Cactus Loop Trail (across from Tamarisk Grove campground) showcases cactus species in bloom as well, and may harbor a few lingering poppies, monkeyflowers, and other annuals.

Sand verbena can still be found in a field at the corner of DiGiorgio Road (from Palm Canyon Drive, turn left at JT’s Tire Pro) and Henderson Canyon Road. Turn right and continue east on Henderson Canyon Road to find the remnants of the Sunflower Fields. Most of the sunflowers have gone to seed, but a walk out into the fields (toward the mountains) should yield a few patches of fresher, still-blooming sunflowers.

A few patches of sand verbena may still linger among the desert dandelions and pincushion blooming around the collection of metal sculptures near the junction of Borrego Springs Road (north) and Henderson Canyon Road (east).

Hikers should be able to find good wildflowers in canyons such as Palm Canyon, Hellhole Canyon, and Plum Canyon (off Highway 78; 2WD vehicles should stay right at the fork).

Primitive camps available to two-wheel-drive vehicles are Culp Valley (west of town) and Arroyo Salado (east of town), both on Highway S-22. 4WD vehicles can access Yaqui Well camp. No ground fires permitted.

Visitors who have a day or more would do well to explore the southern half of the park, also. Flowers should be coming into bloom at higher elevations, and the primitive camps at Blair Valley and Mountain Palm Springs should be less crowded. Fill your gas tank before heading south, take plenty of water, and be prepared to pack out your trash. No ground fires. Be sure to drink plenty of water while you are here!

Dogs must remain leashed while in the park, and are not allowed on hiking trails.

Visitor Center Area: garden and parking lot

In this easily accessible area you’ll find that shrubs and ocotillo aare beautiful, as well as a variety of blooming cacti and a few persisting annuals–desert dandelions, pincushion.

Borrego Palm Canyon

This popular canyon has plants that bloom on both the main and alternate trails.  You may see lots of Phacelia, Chuparosa, Brittlebush and Desert Lavender.  Also look for Desert Chicory, blooming Ocotillo, Desert Wishbone, Desert Dandelion, Canterbury Bells, and Brown-eyed Evening Primrose.  On the alternate trail, you may see Monkey Flowers, Parish’s Golden Poppy, Little Gold Poppy, and Rock Hibiscus. Keep an eye out for dainty Whispering Bells and Fiesta Flower!

Henderson Canyon Road

The “Sunflower Fields” are well past peak bloom, but a few patches can still be found by walking out into the fields. Near the east end of the road (west of Pegleg Monument area) a few Lupine persist. At the west end of the road (near the statues of Galleta Meadows), you may find a few patches of Sand Verbena among the yellow desert dandelions and white pincushion blossoms.

  • Plum Canyon
    Desert Apricot and Turpentine Broom have been spotted here, as well as Dudleya and a variety of shrubs. Keep an eye out for pink monkeyflowers in sandy wash areas.

    DiGiorgio and Henderson Canyon Roads

    Some nice Sand Verbena still blooms near the corner of DiGiorgio and Henderson Canyon Roads.

    Please Remember

    Vehicles must be parked no more than one vehicle length off the road and must not trample vegetation or drive over geological features.  Dogs must remain on a leash no longer than six feet and are not allowed cross-country or on hiking trails. Pets may not be left unattended.  Please enjoy the Wildflowers and allow future visitors to enjoy them as well.

    Anza-Borrego Desert Wildflowers

    A revisit to the area to check out Palmer’s jackass clover, Wislizenia refracta ssp. palmeri, not grown much in the past weeks.
    It was one of the best places for wildfowers and the caterpillars haven’t arrived in full force yet. It seems that plants will be out of bloom, before they get eaten.
    The top of food list for caterpillars Lupinus shockleyi, Primsose, Sand Verbena. It’s now easier to check what they like with fewer caterpillars around, just by following the tracks. Amazing to see how they sometimes miss their favourite plants by inches, they also try to reach up at random, just to make sure there isn’t something tasty above them.
    This time we took the short version of the loop and only visited the interesting spots.
    We added Harwood’s woollystar, Eriastrum harwoodii to our list.
    Species in bloom below 3000 feet: 43
    Pictures: Clark Dry Lake loop
    3/30 Another must do hike in a fork of Torote canyon and back in Indian Valley.
    The area is just past prime bloom, Brittlebush is almost out of bloom here, but Senna is now the dominant yellow bush along this hike.
    The smelly plants along the route right now are Dogweed, Odora and Senna.
    One of our goals was to check Indian Valley for Linanthus maculatus emaculatus, just in case we missed it previously, none found.
    On our route we added one new species to our list Stebbins’s desert dandelion, Malacothrix stebbinsii.
    Species in bloom below 3000 feet: 92
    Pictures: Torote – Indian Valley loop

    3/29 Our follow up hike towards Ant Hill.
    We liked to know what happened to all the germination along the route.
    A prominent bloomer in flower fields: Gray desert sunflower, Helianthus petiolaris canescens.
    Caterpillars are out in full force, but once in a while they didn’t reach an area yet and the bloom was still good.
    Still very good patches of Dune evening primrose, Oenothera deltoides deltoides and Desert sand verbena, Abronia villosa villosa, but it will only last for a couple of days before they are gone.
    Most striking, most the germination we found over a month ago turned into fields of pincushion, Chaenactis carphoclinia var. carphoclinia, not very noticeable as they are white and not densely flowered enough.
    Lupinus shockleyi seem to be very tasty, as all but a few have been eaten, sometimes fruit and all. Persistent cotyledon doesn’t mean forever and without cotyledon/leaves it’s tricky, so fruit made the ID confident.
    Even here Indigo bush, Psorothamnus schottii was in excellent bloom.
    The bad: Brassica tournefortii has taken over large portions of the sandy area.
    Species in bloom below 3000 feet: 63
    Pictures: Ant Hill loop


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