News & Articles

Desert Wildflower Report-2-24-2017 Split Mountain, Anza-Borrego

Heart Leaved Primrose at Split Mountain, Anza Borrego
Desert Lily growing from hardened mud, Anza Borrego
Fremont's Boxthorn just beginning to bloom

Split Mountain Rd in Anza Borrego Desert State Park had a few nice flowers, but overall was disappointing. It was clear that a large amount of water had moved through the wash recently, most likely around February 17th when the big storm hit. The road had been graded somewhat but it was strictly 4WD high clearance with large rocks in places. The side canyons beyond Split Mountain often have excellent blooms and sometimes uncommon species. I made it past the split but not far as the road became even worse.

Desert Wildflower Report-2-24-2017 Anza-Borrego Palm Canyon

Lovely Bigelow's Monkeyflower in Palm Canyon, Anza-Borrego
California Bluebell in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
California Primrose in Borrego Springs, CA

The lowlands of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and Borrego Springs areas are one of the most reliable places to see wildflowers in early spring. There is almost always something growing, although the drought over the last few years has tempered that a bit. Indeed, there were more flowers here than just about anywhere but I expected even more. Where there has been growth over the last several years, it is often in full bloom by this date.

Desert Wildflower Report-2-23-2017, North Algodones Dunes

Algodones Sunflower in the upper dunes
Wiggins' Croton in the North Algodones Dunes Wilderness
Emory's Indigo Bush at the dunes in Imperial County

The Algodones Dunes are one of the hottest places in the California desert, but on this visit temperatures were in the low 60s, and therefore hiking through the massive piles of sand wasn't overwhelming. Many specialized plants grow in the taller dunes, and several are rare. The lower dunes have species that are typical in other sandy places. Plants bloom relatively early in this location, and this is what I saw:

Desert Wildflower Report-2-23-2017-Hwy. 78 Southern Chocolate Mtns.

Fairyduster near the Chocolate Mountains
Staminate flowers of Jojoba near the Chocolate Mountains
Climbing Milkweed in bud west of the Colorado River

The southern latitudes were showing some good color, starting at Highway 78 near the Chocolate Mountains. Being so close to Arizona and the Colorado River, you encounter species that may normally be found in Arizona. There is at least one saguaro cactus in the general vicinity, but I didn't encounter it. The weather was still very cool for what is typical in this area, only getting to the low or mid-60s at the warmest part of the day. More flowers will reveal themselves in the next few weeks as there were many buds. Species blooming were:

Desert Wildflower Report-2-23-2017-Corn Springs

Anderson's Desert Thorn flowers at Corn Spring
Holly Leaved Burbrush in the wash at Corn Springs
Desert Penstemon preparing to bloom

The beautiful canyon containing Corn Springs was lush and green but very little flowers were in evidence. Recent rains had soaked the area, and shrubs had plenty of new growth. Seedlings grew amongst the rocks at the edges of the large wash. A few plants of note: