Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 8, 2020

Early Feb. Bloom Reports for Anza-Borrego Desert

Anza Borrego Desert Wildflowers  has the following new reports. See photos for report below at  Bloom report out of the Anza-Borrego Desert

2020-February-6 We had significant rain in 2019

But after that everything stopped, with no significant rain in over a month and nothing predicted. Germination is good and wide spread, BUT a lot of plants are already blooming often VERY small.
We might even be close to peak bloom below 1000 feet, like mid-February.

This season doesn’t look like a Superbloom, probably a normal, or below normal if we don’t get rain very soon.
Not everything is lost, a good February rain could turn things around pretty quickly.

The bad news, Sahara Mustard, London rocket and other bad plants are thriving, by the millions, in some places 100% of the plants are non-native.
In the sandy areas Mustard is thriving, in general, the closer to cars/roads the worse it gets.
We had too many wetter seasons in a row, giving the non-native plants a good seed bank.
They generally don’t like a couple of dry seasons, but so do we.

That said, there are still many areas with less mustard, often thanks to the pulling effort.

Coyote Canyon:
Water in First, Second and Third crossing, at second crossing water is a bit deeper than usual.
Bloom is best between Zero and First Crossing.
A nice display of Malacothrix glabrata | Desert dandelion, mixed with some Phacelia distans | Common phacelia, the occasional Rafinesquia neomexicana | Desert chicory and small Abronia villosa villosa , Desert sand verbena.
The display is good but not spectacular, for this area it’s above average.

Lower Willows is still a problem, there isn’t a good route yet, maybe for this season.
Part of the route is a dense pack of arrow weed, others turned into a pond.
For now only for the very adventurous, with enough water in case you don’t find your way back.

Fish Creek:
Tom Chester reported a good bloom in the Elephant Tree Natural Area 2/6/2020.

February/6/2020 Elephant Tree Natural Area by Tom Chester
Species in bloom: 37.

February/5/2020 Algodones Dunes
While entering the park, fields of Abronia villosa villosa | Desert sand verbena, Oenothera deltoides deltoides | Dune evening primrose and some Hesperocallis undulata | Desert lily.
This area is mostly void of non natives, weird as it’s close to a road with a lot of farm trucks.

Finally we spot a Palafoxia arida gigantea | Giant spanish needle, wow that’s something way way bigger in all respects compared to Palafoxia arida arida | Spanish needles.
Here both variations are present.
This is home to Algodones dunes sunflower | Helianthus niveus tephrodes.

Maybe the biggest surprise the huge Eriogonum deserticola | Dune buckwheat, some obviously old. Most bend by the wind, with exposed roots because of the ever shifting sand dunes.

Once we spotted the large blooming Astragalus magdalenae peirsonii | Peirson’s milkvetch on iNat, we were on our way.
Species in bloom: 36.
All our plants from this date on iNaturalist
All or part of the iNat observations may be posted later-on, as our time is limited.

February/4/2020 Diablo Dieguenos loop
We finally found a new route out the Diablo canyon on an old road.
This opened up the possibility to explore the area between the Dieguenos and Gert wash.

The germination is pretty good, most of the time you can see a green glow.
Hesperocallis undulata | Desert lily are present by the hundreds, some very close to bloom.

While germination is good, plants are still small and need extra rain for a really good bloom.
Here we could add more seedlings for our collection. it’s that much easier here as the number of plants to choose from is rather limited.
We were pleased to find many very green and some blooming Lycium plants along the banks or the wash. Lycium fremontii | Fremont’s desert thorn and Parish’s desert thorn | Lycium parishii

In general, this time of the year, the sandy badlands have a higher bloom count than the rest of the desert, but that should change soon.
Brassica tournefortii | Sahara mustard;Asian mustard is present, but certainly not overwhelming.

Our goal was to find more Xylorhiza orcuttii | Orcutt’s woody aster and we found only 50 or so. These are sorry looking plants, just hanging on like population south of the Sin Nombre. Species in bloom: 36.
All our plants from this date on iNaturalist
All or part of the iNat observations may be posted later-on, as our time is limited.

February/2/2020 Yaqui Meadows Loop
Rain is overdue and plants are forced to bloom often too early, the resulting plants so far are rather small in this area.
Phacelia distans | Common phacelia is by far the most abundant bloomer, mostly around shrubs.
A couple of Emmenanthe penduliflora penduliflora | Whispering bells and Diplacus bigelovii bigelovii | Bigelow’s monkey flower.

The germination is strong, hundred of tiny plants waiting for the next rain.
Here the blooming Phoradendron californicum | Desert mistletoe is by far the strongest smelling plant around, often recognizable at over 30 feet away.

We checked on the Spermolepis infernensis | Hellhole Scaleseed population on our track. They are doing just fine like an estimated > 1000.

Species in bloom: 30.

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