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January 11, 2019
Bloom Prediction for 2019
Desert Research Botanist Kate Harper has been making field observations over the past weeks and has just issued her prediction for the 2019 bloom season. Please read her report in its entirety, but the bottom-line is that we are on track for a very good bloom this season with just a couple of weather conditions that could alter it.
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park 2018-19 “Season” Bloom Analysis and Prediction
by Kate Harper
Desert Research Botanist
Rain Analysis Related to Blooming

We appear to be heading into a 2-pulse 2018-19 “Season”.  

What has triggered the first pulse of blooming?
We had significant rain in spotty areas of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (the Park) on October 12, 2018. It was still hot in the Park, but it was cooling off from the peak summer heat. It appears that the temperature was still warm enough to trigger the germination of some monsoonal plants (summer storm triggering plants), and just cooled down enough to trigger the germination of some “spring” plants (calendar winter, but what we call in the desert spring).  

So, right now, in mid-January 2019, we are having the beginning of a bloom! BUT, just in the spotty areas that received the thunderstorm rain on October 12, 2019. Unfortunately, none of the popular close-to-town flower field areas are included in this spotty early bloom.  

What has triggered the second, more common pulse of blooming?  

The Park received 0.39 inch of rain in a November 29-30, 2018 storm. This is not enough rain to trigger widespread germination, BUT it is enough rain to soften the dry surface of the soil and to make the soil receptive to additional rain without run off. And, so what do you want after such a preparatory rain? A storm of at least 1 inch. And, the Park got it! A storm event on December 5-6, 2018 delivered 1.05 inches of rain. Now we have enough rain to trigger widespread germination of “Spring” annuals.  

Think of the desert in the “Spring” like you would think about planting a garden. After you have the seeds in, all experts suggest “give your garden a good soaking”. That is the December 5-6, 2018 storm that delivered 1.05 inches. Then, what do the garden experts tell you? They say, “Water at regular intervals.” And, voila! The skies have delivered just such a watering regime, so far: A semi-soaking on December 31, 2018 of 0.52 inch. A nice interval watering on January 6, 2019 of 0.11 inch. And, right on cue, another interval watering of 0.14 inch on January 12, 2019!  

So, does this guarantee us a lovely “Spring” Bloom this year? Almost.  

Only 2 kinds of events could derail a lovely “Spring” bloom this year: multiple days of below freezing temperatures or multiple days of super hot temperatures. Either of these could impact the plants. BUT, barring those events, we are ON for a lovely year to be in the flower-filled Borrego Desert!

January 10, 2019
And now more rain!
It is raining lightly in Borrego Springs this evening and still more rain is predicted in the coming week.

January 6, 2019
More rain and winter flowers
More rain in Borrego Springs last night and continued cool temperatures are keeping ample moisture in the soil, exactly what is needed for an excellent flower bloom this spring.  It also appears that we are seeing a normal cycle of winter storms moving through the area on a 10-14 day baises. That's more good news.

The main bloom will be in springtime, whenever daily temperatures start to reach into the high 70s and 80s on a consistent basis.  But the rain is already giving us unusual winter blooms in some areas, with scattered patches of flowers being reported in various locations.  The photos below were submitted by Terry Hunefeld.

Winter flowers - San Felipe Wash north of West Butte, just north of Hawk Canyon.
Photos by Terry Hunefeld

Meanwhile, Fred and Carla are also reporting small blooms, moist conditions, and good germination.  Their most recent report comes from the East Butte area and mentions desert sand verbena, brown-eyed primrose, as well as some desert lillies being spotted on their hike.

Desert Lilly   1/4/2019  Photo by Fred Melgert.

December 31, 2018
Flower Forecast Update:  2019 Flower Season
We are receiving heavy rain in Borrego Springs on this last day of 2018, and snow above 2500 feet.  This storm greatly increases the likelihood of a excellent wildflower bloom this spring.  It will be a good year; there will be spring flowers this year in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and Borrego Springs.

It's too early to say with any certainty when exactly the bloom will take place.  It will happen when temperatures warm up in springtime.  We could have a prolonged bloom that starts in February and continues into March, or we could have the more typical "peak bloom" scenario that takes place over one or two weeks, typically in March, but sometimes in February.  We just have to see how nature decides to make its presentation.

Water flows in the "dry creekbed" of the ABDNHA botanical garden.  12/31/2018 

December 25, 2018
First Flower Forecast:  2019 Flower Season
Anyone who has read our flower forecasts in the past knows that a desert wildflower bloom is a hard thing to predict, especially early in the season.  That said, things are looking very positive right now for an excellent wildflowers bloom this season.  In fact, there are some wildflowers blooming right now - more about that later - see below.  As for the spring forecast, we had a heavy rain in mid December that percolated down deep into the soil, and we had another light rain yesterday.  If this pattern of rain continues into January / February all the conditions will exist for an excellent bloom in 2019. 

The big question we always get is When will it happen?  Typically the peak of a wildflower bloom in the Borrego Valley is in March, and generally in the first half.  But the weather so far this season has some wildflower prognosticators thinking that we could see an earlier peak bloom this year, maybe in February.  If the rain comes (as has been the case so far this winter), then the bloom will come when temperatures warm up in Springtime.  When is Springtime?  It's when the temperatures warm up!  That's generally March but it sometimes happens in February.  So keep posted.

As far as right now is concerned, we have had the rain and we have also had consistent warm days and that has given us unusual winter blooms in some areas.  These are not the expansive fields of flowers that we see in the spring but there are some pretty impressive winter blooms taking place right now in some areas.  Marcy Yates reports, "There are wide swaths of verbena blooming around Yuma, AZ.  We also saw a few brown-eyed primroses and desert sunflowers along Hwy 78 starting from just before the Ocotillo Wells Recreational Vehicle Area going east until almost Hwy 86."  Also, botanist Tom Chester posts the photos below from June Wash.  

Sand Verbena June Wash  Photo by Tom Chester

Brown-eyed Primrose, June Wash, ABDSP. Photo by Tom Chester.

On December 25, the following information was posted by Fred and Carla from Palo Verde Smoke tree Loop. They said:

Driving by this looked so green. Wow, this is one of the greenest places outside of the badlands right now. Many Encelia farinosa farinosa, Brittlebush are in full bloom along with Krameria that otherwise almost never blooms right here. Amazing how fresh Cylindropuntia ramosissima, the Diamond cholla can look, they might even bloom this season. We also saw many Eschscholzia, poppy and some Ferocactus cylindraceus, California barrel cactus in bloom.

We've never checked the Echinocactus polycephalus polycephalus Cottontop cactus right here, but this was the time to do so. We say our first Lupinus arizonicus, Arizona lupine of the season in bloom. So far this hike has given us the highest bloom numbers of the season.

As usual, Fred also posts some beautiful photos of what they saw.

Phacelia crenulata ambigua, Notch leaf phacelia (Dec/25/2018) Photo by Fred Melgert

Lupinus arizonicus, Arizona lupine (Dec/25/2018) Photo by Fred Melgert

October 31
Report by Marcy Yates and Bill Sullivan
The ocotillo in several areas have quickly put recent rains to good use and and have turned a brilliant green with new lego Springs and Salton City, and the Carrizo Valley east of Canebrake, everywhere along Highway 78 from Borrego Springs Road to Ocotillo Wells, and up the Buttes Pass road to the Slot and Hawk Canyon.


Photo by Marcy Yates


May 23
Report by Bill Sullivan
Tuesday was busy this week. I took my first picture along the Sunrise Highway at 6:23 a.m., not quite an hour's drive from my San Diego home. The Sunrise Highway is on the west side of the mountains that keep the rain clouds from heading east from the Pacific Ocean. It's because of the mountains that we have our desert, that and the sandstone, mudstone and claystone that for one reason or another have moved here from Arizona and Mexico.

At this time of year, the flowers down in the desert have to be able to survive summer heat. In the mountains, along the Sunrise Highway, the flowers can be a bit gentler. And prettier.

San Diego Pea - Taken along the Sunrise Highway   by Bill Sullivan

Lupine and Penstemon - Taken along the Sunrise Highweay   by Bill Sullivan

Prickly Poppy - Taken along San Felipe Valley Road   by Bill Sullivan

Prickly Pear in bloom by Bill Sullivan.

April 28
Besides the sea of yellow Palo Verde, Ironwoods and Desert Willows are starting to put on a show.  These pictures were taken at the park visitor center this morning. By Marcy Yates

Desert Willow  Marcy Yates

Ironwood  Marcy Yates



April 9
Several species of cactus now blooming in the ABDNHA Garden.

ABDNHA Garden Palo Verde in Bloom

ABDNHA Garden  Hedgehog in bloom

ABDNHA Garden Prickly Pear in bloom

 April 7
We are finally getting some color in Anza-Borrego and around Borrego Springs! Shades of ocotillo red, palo verde yellow, apricot mallow, and magenta of cactus blossoms. 

Ocotillo, Palo Verde, Hedgehog cactus

March 30
Marcy Yates reports the ocotillo forests from Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Rec. Area west to the turn to Borrego Springs Road are awash in a sea of red right now.   There are also some really pretty specimens blooming along Borrego Springs Road after the Texas Dip to the Air Ranch.

Feb. 20, 2018
Bill Sullivan reports to us that on a recent trip to the desert he was impressed by the abundance of Chuparosa in flower in Plum Canyon and Glorietta Canyon, especially Plum Canyon.  He also reported lots of the germination at the southern end of the Coyote Canyon Jeep Trail, across from the citrus groves. Bill says we may be two or three weeks away from flowers, but we will have some flowers for visitors to see this season.  

On a wider scale, we have not had the rain this winter that gave us the widespread super bloom last year.  Unless there is a major storm in the next few weeks, this flower season will consist of more dispersed blooms, pockets of flowers here and there, wherever the ground moisture holds  enough water to support the annual plant growth.

Jan. 9, 2018
Rain in Borrego Springs
The winter storm that brought heavy rainfall to the coastal areas and mountains has also given Borrego Springs the first rain of the winter season.  Rainfall in January and February is the main driver of spring flowers. 

According to data from the ABDSP weather station  .94 inches of rain were recorded in the past 24 hours.  That’s a good January rainfall for Borrego Springs. 

For comparison, the same weather station recorded a total of 2.53 inches of rain during all of January 2017 and another 1.99 inches in February of 2017.  The flower season cannot be predicted from one rainfall, but the rain during the last 24 hours was a good start to the winter season.

Nov. 13, 2017
California Riding Hiking Trail  Soapstone Grade - Upper Green Valley - La Cima trail
Hiking Detail
Fred and Carla
Welcome back to Fred and Carla.  This is their first report of the new desert season.

California fuchsia, Epilobium canum latifolium

Slender wreathplant exigua, Stephanomeria exigua exigua Fred Melgert

September 21, 2017
Sent to us by Bill Sullivan
Summer in our desert ended with a significant (for the desert) rainfall on September 7. Good-by to fall colors, like in the attached 5970_BlairValley photo. Hello to greenery, like the leaves of the Ocotillo plant in 5906.  The September 7 rain contributed to the greenery. The rain brought water down Coyote Creek from the Santa Rosa Mountains. A jeep trail crosses the creek in a few places. Photo 6008 shows the mess the rains made of the First Crossing. When we walked to the Second Crossing on September 20, it looked peaceful.

Second Crossing - By Bill Sullivan

First Crossing - By Bill Sullivan

Ocotillo - By Bill SUllivan

Blair Valley by Bill Sullivan

April 10, 2017
Fages-Cal Riding & Hiking Trail - Pacific Crest Loop 
Hiking Details
Report by Fred and Carla
On a return visit to this higher elevation hike they report s
mall fields of Douglas' violet, Viola douglasii, California buttercup and Ranunculus californicus.  Larger fields of California goldfields, Lasthenia gracilis and Erodium.  From the scrups Cup leaf ceanothus, Ceanothus perplexans was in excellent bloom, at higher elevations.
Our favorite Bush poppy, Dendromecon rigida dotted the area.

California goldfields, Lasthenia gracilis Photo by Fred Melgert


Some photos taked during the peak of the bloom 2017:

Glorieta Canyon - 3/27/2017 Andy McElhatton

Flowers from today in Rockhouse Canyon by Fred Melgert - Englemanns Hedgehog cactus, Desert Willow, Indigo Bush, Globe Mallow.  3/27/2017

Brittlebush at Glorieta Canyon by Judy Stweart.

Some flower shots from the Moonlight Canyon Trail, Agua Caliente County Park, by Fred Melgert. Desert fivespot, Desert Threadplant,  Stream orchid, and ghost flower. 3/24/2017

This is a fascinating vide of a white-lined Sphnix Moth caterpiller eating a flower by Fred Melgert.  The speed is amazing. It is easy to see how hundreds of thousands of this species can quickly turn a field of flowers into a field of stubble.

Beautiful shot of ocotillo in bloom, from state park visitor center,  with Indianhead in the background.  3/21/2017 By Niall Fritz.

Brittlebush in bloom by Fred Melgert 3/20/2017

Bighorn sheep surrounded by spring flowers  Photo by John Zarem 3/19/2017

Rockhouse Canyon Photo by Fred Melgert.  Fred Reports that Rockhouse Canyon has an excellent bloom right now. 3/19/2017

Flower shots from Rockhouse Canyon by Fred Melgert 3/19/2017  Desert Threadplant,
Purplemat, Beavertail Cactus, Desert Senna.

Dandelions along DiGiorgio Road 3/19/2017

First Crossing Coyote Canyon - 03/16/2017

Coyote Canyon - approx 2 miles beyond the end of DiGiorgio - 03/15/2017

Golden Poppy and Lupine - Photo by Steve Cobert.

Desert Sand Verbena Clark Dry Lake - Photo by Fred Melgert

Desert Sunflowers Henderson Canyon by Steve Cobert.

Sweeney Pass and Carrizo Overlook. Photo by Judy Stewart  3/11/2017

Side Canyon off of Coyote Canyon.  Photo by Amy Brewster 3/11/2017

Side Canyon off of Coyote Canyon.  Photo by Amy Brewster 3/11/2017

Along Henderson Canyon Road Photo by Fred Melgert 3/10/2017

Desert Sunflowers along Henderson Canyon Road by Fred Melgert 3/10/2017

By Tesa Silvestre

Desert evening primrose, Henderson Cyn Road, this morning, 5:45am
by Carolyn McIntyre 3/9/2017

Not a flower picture but magnificent shot of bighorn sheep as they hear a noise off
to the side.  Bighorn sheep are now fredquently being seen along the Palm Canyon
Trail at the edge of town in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. 
This photo is by Dean Curtis. 3/9/2017

Lots of green and color in this shot by Amy Brewster 3/9/2017

Wild Canterbury Bells, Pacific Crest Loop Trail photo by Fredi Melgert 3/8/2017

Other Notes:
Best recommendation for Drive-By/Easy Access Flowers: Starting at the ABDNHA Borrego Desert Nature Center to pick up a free flower location map, you’ll see our blooming Botanical Garden; then head north on Borrego Springs Road to see the metal statues.

Recommended: Drive DiGiorgio Road to the end of the pavement, park, and get out to see up close Desert Lilies, Spectacle Pod, Sand Verbena, Desert Sunflowers. For those who want to drive the (2WD accessible) dirt road beyond the end of DiGiorgio Road into Coyote Canyon for a couple miles to “Desert Gardens,” you will see even more blooms (Poppies, Desert Dandelions, and just beginning to bloom are the Ocotillo and Beavertail Cactus).

Recommended: Drive north on Borrego Springs Road to the point where it turns sharply to the right and heads east.  Pull onto the dirt road on the left side of the road right at the turn. Park and walk around to see blooms and scultures.

Arroyo Salado Campground: East on S22 to the Borrego Badlands and Arroyo Salado Campground to see lots of Desert Lilies beyond the last campsite.

Easy Hiking:  In Full Bloom: Henderson Canyon at the west end of Henderson Canyon Road (See Desert Lilies, Chicory, Phacelia, a variety of cactus, metal statues, and mountain views).

Easy Hiking: Little Surprise Canyon on the west end of S22 about one-third mile south of Palm Canyon Drive (Ghost Flowers, Barrel Cactus, Desert Lavender, beautiful rocks and views on the return walk).

Desert dandeliona along Borrego Springs Road by Tesa Silvesre

Desert Floor covered  with Monkey Flowers bu Amy Brewster.

March 7, 2017
Collins Valley - Box Canyon - Hiking Details
Fred and Carla
A trip to a tiny dry lake between Collins valley and Box canyon, in our second try to find Lepidium flavum felipense. It's very busy with all the tourist driving in Coyote canyon. Water in second crossing is still rather deep, we noticed the large number of cars parked before second crossing, a lot didn't want to try the crossing. Destination Box canyon and than climb up the rocky wall up to the playa. What we noticed from above the playa was very very green, but not the good kind of green. No trace of Lepidium flavum felipense and other plants that should grow besides it. That was very strange as on our previous hike we did find Sphaeralcea leaves, but now none to be found. Down the very steep and rocky drainage and down Lower Willows. The signs of the recent rain are very clear, the gully that is the hiking trail gets deeper and deeper. WOW what a high bloom count, we are getting closer to peak bloom.

Parish's poppy, Eschscholzia parishii By Fred Melgert

March 5, 2017
Yaqui Meadow Loop - Hiking Details
Fred and Carla
A hike to one of our favorite spots. Starting on the "Yaqui Meadows Loop" and as the drainage narrows skipping over to the "Yaqui Meadows - Glorietta Wash" and finally completing the "Yaqui Meadows Loop". Trying to get the best of both hikes. Staggering fields of Bigelow's monkey flower, Mimulus bigelovii bigelovii (10000+), Ghost flower, Mohavea confertiflora (500+) and Parish's poppy, Eschscholzia parishii (1000+). Never seen such large fields of monkey flower and Ghost flower before. Most flower fields on the sun facing slopes and some on the flat rocky area's.

Bigelow's monkey flower  Photo by Fred Melgert

Photo by Fred Melgert

Wednesday February 24

Arroyo Salado & Fonts Wash  - Desert Lilies

It looks like this is going to be a good year for desert lilies

We have two emails this morning that lilies are about to pop in Arroyo Salado and Fonts Wash.  Both of these areas are in the Borrego Badlands, east of Borrego Springs and just south of S22 and in the same region where lilies were reported just yesterday.

We also have this report and photo from Caroline:

Hundreds of desert lilies all around "The Slot" including along Buttes Pass Road. Go to parking area for "The Slot" and then walk downhill or along the jeep road that goes west from parking area.

Amazing show! Today I also saw some sand verbena and brown eyed primrose. Desert Sunflowers are growing, too.

Dune Evening Primrose  S22 Just west of the Thimble Trail.  Visit before noon.

Photo by Fred Melgert.

Borrego Springs - Around Town

We have another 'around town" report from inside the town of Borrego Springs, a walk along the streets of town, that noted the following plants, some blooming now and some on the on the verge of blooming, maybe a week or so out. 

Desert Lavender, full bloom

Chuparosa, full bloom


and the most beautiful full bud about to open….Fairy Duster,

full bloom Creosote in flower

Ocotillo, full green lush leaves, in bud, a few open flowers already

 Brittlebush, in bud and some early bright yellow full bouquets

Datura, coming up, blossoms forming Coyote Melon,

leafing out Desert Trumpet, with buds

Brown-eyed Evening Primrose, starting to flower

California Evening Primrose, about to flower

Spanish Needles, beginning to flower

Yellowheads, beginning to flower

Fishhook Cactus in bloom now

Beavertail Cactus, lots of buds

Apricot Mallow, blooming


Shown Below - Some shots from the ABDNHA Botanical Garden February 24



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