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ABDNHA BOTANICAL GARDEN
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Flower Reports 
For Borrego blooms in April, plan to take a walk or hike into the canyons or drive the dirt roads into these areas, mostly at higher elevations, as the wildflower bloom of annuals in the lower desert has mostly faded and is setting seed. April is a lovely month to visit, with still cool mornings and evenings, and not as busy as March.  

April is a good time to see blooms of the colorful cacti of Anza-Borrego, the flame-tipped Ocotillo, the tall stalks of the Agave, desert trees in bloom such as the yellow Palo Verde, and native shrubs such as the blue Indigo Bush. These plants are often found at the rocky entrances to the canyons and washes, and are dispersed, not concentrated together like the fields of wildflowers earlier in Spring.

While we are discontinuing our daily updated wildflower maps at this time, you can now use our maps to locate some of these canyon areas. You can also pick up a free printed version of the map at the ABDNHA Borrego Desert Nature Center.   

Recommended are the canyons and trails of Borrego Palm Canyon, Henderson Canyon, Hellhole Canyon, Little Surprise Canyon Yaqui Well Trail, Bill Kenyon Trail, Plum Canyon, Mine Wash, and the Culp Valley/Pena Spring area at higher elevations.  Also check ABDNHA’s botanical garden adjacent to the Nature Center for blooms.     Our $1.00 flower brochure, featuring the local cacti, trees, shrubs & annuals, will be back in print very soon, so ask about it at ABDNHA’s Borrego Desert Nature Center, 652 Palm Canyon Drive, Open Daily 9-5.  
 

Our most recent reports.

March 24: The Cacti begin to bloom
We took a trip around today to see where the cacti are blooming.  We found barrel cactus, fishook cactus, beavertail cactus, and hedgehog cactus in bloom in the lower elevations around Borrego Springs.  In many cases it is individual plants here and there, and many other plants nearby with mature buds all set to go.  Different species are found in different areas but the best all-around area we found was along the Yaqui Wells Trail across from the Tamarisk Grove Campground.  Glorietta Canyon should be good in the weeks ahead.

Barrel Cactus  Yaqui Well Trail  March 23

Beavertail Cactus  Yaqui Well Trail  March 23

Hedgehog Cactus  Glorietta Canyon March 23

March 22: General Update
We have a flower report of the southern sector of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park from ABDNHA Member Dr. Juergen Schrenk covering the area along S2 from Scissors Crossing south to Ocotillo with inviting flower stops along the way. He writes, “...if you like wildflowers..., then it’s virtually impossible not to get carried away this remarkable season. ” We agree!

Stops include Little Blair Valley to see the spectacular field of Yellow Peppergrass
Photo by Dr. Juergen Schrenk

In the Box Canyon area, patches of Phacelia minor will catch your attention.  Photo by Dr. Juergen Schrenk

Further along the road, south of Agua Caliente, Desert Star became common, together with another of our favorites, Ghost Flowers.

Photo by Dr. Juergen Schrenk


Before reaching Ocotillo, we took a look into Jojoba Wash  Photo by Dr. Juergen Schrenk

March 19: General Update
The bloom is still going strong but it is changing.  We are likely now seeing plants in bloom that germinated from the mid-February rain.  This gives us new areas in bloom and different flowers from the past couple of weeks.  In many ways the bloom right now has a bigger "wow" factor because it is so electric bright - with yellow being the main color of the moment, from yellow desert dandelions and poppies, and the accent color being the purple of phacelia. 

It's easy to see lots of flowers just driving around Borrego Springs, and our map has a suggested driving route to catch the best areas.

One of the very interesting things to be seen right now is the vast bloom of Dune Evening Primrose growing out of cracked dried mud patterns on Henderson County Road.  They are fragile as delicate glass and they will surely fall apart as people explore the area, but they make for beautiful photos if you can get there.  The photo below is by Xianjing Hu and was posted on the BorregoBlooms Facebook page.

Photo by Xianjing Hu

 

e took a look today otillo in Yellow" - with some desert lilies as well.
Ocotillo are beginning to bloom along Borrego Springs Road in the area known as the "ocotillo forest", about two

March 16: The Ocotillo Forest.
"
Ocotillo in Yellow" - with some desert lilies as well.
Ocotillo are beginning to bloom along Borrego Springs Road in the area known as the "ocotillo forest", about two miles south of Christmas Circle.  Yellow desert dandelions covered the ground on a walk-through today, mixed with some chicory.  There are also desert lilies, some in bloom, some just coming into bloom.  The lilies all seem to be located withing about 100 feet of the roadway.

Photo by Mike McElhatton.

March 15: Barrel cactus are blooming in Texas Dip.

The waxy yellow flowers of barrel cactus in bloom - Texas Dip.  Thank you Harlod Willome for this photo.

March 11: For those who want some desert solitude with their flowers, Judy sends a report for two spots in the south end of the park.  
Thanks, Judy.  Two spots:   #1  Driving south on S-2, stop at the overlooks south of Canyon Sin Nombre.  Here are some shots she sent us:

Overlook view, south of Canyon Sin Nombre  Photo by Judy Stewart

Overlook view, south of Canyon Sin Nombre  Photo by Judy Stewart

Stop #2 is not far away, Carizzo wash.  She says you can park on the side of the road and you only have to walk in a little ways.

Carizzo Wash     Photo by Judy Stewart

Carizzo Wash    Photo by Judy Stewart


March 10: Some photos from today


A vast sea of desert sunflowers stretches for miles to the north of Devils Slide in the Ocotillo Wells SRVA.  The sunflowers also stretch west to areas bordering Buttes Pass Road.  Photo by Mike McElhatton

Brad Pietrzak sends us this photo taken off of the Truckhaven Trail in an area we reference as #1 on our "East of Borrego Map," an area where the bloom is expanding in the direction of Clark Dry Lake.

A walk in Coachwhip Canyon offers a quiet desert experience among beautiful rock formations, away from the more crowded viewing areas.  Photo by Mike McElhatton


A brother and sister take in all the yellow poppies on the slopes of Texas Dip, San Felipe Wash.  Photo by Mike McElhatton


March 8: Tonight we have pictures of people enjoying flowers.
Taken earlier today.


Photos by Mike McElhatton

March 7: Parish's Poppies along San Felipe Wash
There is an extensive bloom of parish's poppies along the south facing slopes of San Felipe Wash.  Drive south from Borrego Springs Road to the area known as "Texas Dip" and then park on the side of the road at the bottom of the hill.  Walk to the west along the steep slopes of the wash' the hillsides are covered in poppies. See our Borrego Springs Map

Parish's poppy,  late afternoon sun, on a hillside along San Felipe Wash.  Mike McElhatton

March 4: June Wash
We asked for some photos of June Wash and we received some today from Bill McFall.  The reports we had been getting have said the area has a very diverse bloom, and Bill's photo below shows that.

June Wash  Photo by Bill McFall

March 2: Botanist Kate Harper updates her 2019 bloom forecast.  Bottom line, "The second big wave of flowers has begun while some first wave blooms still linger. Many lower elevation washes, canyons, and hillsides are bursting with golden patches of poppies."  Download Forecast

Hillside of Parish's Poppy by Fred Melgert www.borregowildflowers.org
Mile Marker 83.4 Highway 78

February 28: Mile Marker 31, Highway S-22
We took a photo of this area on Feb. 15 and said to keep an eye on it, as the sand verbena would be explanding.  Here's a shot from today, late afternoon.  You can compare with the short from two weeks ago that is posted below.  The verbena should continue to expand in the days and weeks ahead.

Mile Marker 31 - Highway S-22 Photo by Mike McElhatton

February 28: Hellhole Canyon

With the Borrego Palm Canyon Trail still closed due to flood damage and deep water on the trail, Hellhole Canyon is a nearby area to be explored by those wanting to hike.  Fred and Carla hiked this area and have reported finding fields of Wild Canterbury Bells, an unusual find.  They also report that the side canyons, notably Flatcat Canyon is even better, with common Phacelia, Bigelow's Monkey Flower, Wild Canterbury Bells, and Parish's Poppy. The hiking details of their trip are here: https://borregohiking.com/hiking/2019_hellhole-flatcat_loop.html
Photos from their hike are below:

Bieglow's Monkey Flower - Photo by Fred Melgert

Wild Canterbury Bells - Photo by Fred Melgert

Parish's Poppy - Photo by Fred Melgert

 
February 23: End of DiGiorgio Road - Update
The "mini superbloom" at the end of DiGiorgio Road is steadily growing in size.  Park at the end of the road and walk less than 1/4 mile on the dirt road that goes to the east and you are in a sea of golden desert sunflowers, with highlights of purple Sand Verbena and white Dune Evening Primrose.

Flower field - Feb. 23  Photo by Mike McElhatton

February 23 - Looking for Ghost Flowers?
Looking for Ghost Flowers? Finding Ghost Flowers?  They are out there right now. If you spot them, take some pics and post them, and let us know where.  You will find isolated plants, never fields of Ghosts Flowers.

Ghost Flowers are often confused with Blazing Star; they grow in the same areas as the Blazing Star, and for reasons that benefit the Ghost Flowers. Ghost Flowers use "double mimicry"; Ghost Flowers offer no nectar to lure in the bees that they need for pollination. But the Blazing Star does offer nectar. By growing alongside the Blazing Star the Ghost Flowers can lure in confused bees and achieve pollination in the process. Also, look closely inside the Ghost Flower. It looks like there's a bee in there! Another mimicry that lures in real bees to investigate.

Photos by Fred Melgert 

February 21: End of DiGiorgio Road
Marcy Yates reports more colors are really starting to pop at the end of the pavement at Digorgio road. Due to flooding, the road to Coyote Canyon is closed at the end of the pavement. Park and walk east on the dirt road. The farther east you go, the more colors you will see.  Verbena, brown-eyed primroses, dune evening primroses and desert sunflowers are scattered. At least one desert lily was blooming. 

End of DiGiorgio Road  Feb 20, 2019  Photo by Marcy Yates

February 20: Calcite Mine Road/Trail  
We have a report from Jack and Becky that there is an area along the road to the calcite mine ( Mile Marker 38.2 on S22) that has a concentration of desert lilies, some in bloom and others ready to bloom.  This area is described as being about 1/2 hour into the 45 minute hike to the mine.  The calcite mine road absolutely requires 4WD; don't attempt it with anything less than that.  But it is a beautiful hike with magnificent rock formations.  See photo below.

Along Calcite Mine Trail showing concentration of desert lilies.
Photo by Becky Harbaugh

February 19: Botanist Kate Harper updates her 2019 bloom prediction following recent rain.
  In summary, she says:
Bottom line, more flowers for longer! The big Valentine storm event (2.98 inches) will extend the flower season and increase the diversity of flowers.
Kate Harper, Desert Research Botanist See full report here.


February 15: A look at the Borrego Badlands - just east of Borrego Springs

The bloom that is happening in the Borrego Badlands offers something that we don't get with the big fields of blooming flowers that the Borrego Valley is known for.  A good portion of the Badlands bloom is happening against the backdrop of some of the most striking desert rock and erosion formations in the entire state park.  The most impressive areas don't have vast fields of flowers, they have pockets of flowers, patches of color against the rock. As a result, you can wander in a place like Coachwhip Wash and continually discover new spots of beauty as you walk along, little places, all unique, that offer a view of rock, earth, sky, and colorful plant life.  The hazy light we have been getting gives a nice warmth to the whole thing as well.  This is a place to explore on foot.   Fortunately it is also easy to get to.  There is plenty to see and explore by parking in the pulloffs along Highway S22.  See our Badlands flower map.

The badlands in bloom : Arizona Lupines against eroded sandstone.  February 15, 2019.
Coachwhip Wash is at mile marker 34.7  on Highway S22.  Mike McElhatton

The other thing about this bloom is that there are also fields of flowers!  There is a big pulloff along the north side of S22 at mile 31, about 11 miles from Christmas Circle in Borrego Springs, where the hills to the west are loosely covered with the purple of sand verbena.  I say "loosely covered" because you will see lots of empty space, barren ground in and between the expanding verbena that the purple is expanding into.   Already above the ground, these plants have a real head start.  They will take the water from recent rain and keep growing.  This is a spot to keep an eye on.  It is very nice right now, but it could become spectacular.


This shot gives a view of the expanding verbena mentioned above, Highway S22, Mile 31.  With recent rain all of those spots of barren ground will likely be covered in purple as the verbena expands.  This is a spot to keep an eye on: in a few weeks time this photo might look pretty baren compared to what is there at that time.  Mike McElhatton

February 15: Video from Ocotillo Wells SVRA
We did a report on February 12 about the bloom happening over in Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area, and photos of that are posted below.  Today we have this video, shot by park staff that shows that some area.  It does not seem that this area suffered as much flood damage as Coyote Canyon from yesterday's rain.  We found it to be a great spot.  The only caveat is that this is an area to visit on weekdays if you are bothered by the OHV traffic. 


February 14: Heavy rain in Borrego Springs today
This video of lower Coyote Canyon tells the story of our rain today.  We took photos of this same area just yesterday to illustrate the excellent condition of the Coyote Canyon Road, but it became evident today that things had changed.  The NWS reported 2.68 inches in Borrego Springs. Due to flood damage on Feb. 14 Coyote Canyon Road has been closed to all vehicle traffic and the repair work is expected to keep it closed until early-mid March.  Visitors can park at the end of the asphalt and walk in.

This video is by Borrego Springs resident Sicco Rood.
 


February 12: Ocotillo Wells - Shell Ridge - near Discovery Center
Shell Reef:
There is a spectacular bloom of Dune Evening Primrose mixed with sunflowers and sand verbena about two miles from the Ocotillo Wells Discovery Center along Shell Reef.  The road is dirt but it is graded.  If you are unfamiliar with the area you can stop at the Discovery Center and ask for a map.   The white Dune Evening Primrose carpet the ground in some spots and trail off into the horizon, with yellow sunflowers and purple sand verbena mixed in.  This is a a great place to visit mid week because there is very little ORV traffic.  The flowers begin around the junction of PaloVerde Wash and Shell Reef Expressway - roads are signed.
Discovery Center Trail: The paved path outside of the Discovery Center now has a bloom of many species, it's not a carpet of flowers but the diversity makes this a very worthwhile stop.  A bonus in this spot is the Discovery Center, with fascinating displays on a wide range of topics about plants, animals, geology, and history of the Ocotillo Wells area.


Paloverde Wash and Shell Reef Expressway.  Just over the rise the ground is carpeted with Dune Evening Primrose.

Field of Sunflowers - Shell Reef Expressway - Ocotillo Wells

Photos (2/12/19) from the Ocotillo Wells Discovery Center Trail, top left - Desert Five Spot about to bloom, Sunflower, Dune Evening Primrose, Desert Lilly.
 
February 12: Coyote Pass - End of DiGiorgio Road
Marcy Yates reports that Verbena, brown-eyed primroses and spectacle pods are having a nice bloom where the pavement ends on Digiorgio Road.  A few lupine are just starting.


Flowers at the end of DiGiorgio Road, entrance to Coyote Canyon by Marcy Yates

Febrary 9 : Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Areas
Several bloom areas are reported by the staff at OW.  These include the followeing areas close to the park's headquarters, just outside of Ocotillo Wells: The Cove:  The rocky hills are covered with lupines, SW of Devils Slide: Clustered fields of desert sunflower, along with phacelia, cat's eyes, desert lily, Benson & Morton Road: Sand verbena and dune evening primrose in dunes along boundary fencing.  This area is Bloom #4 on our Borrego Badlands Map.  High clearance vehicles essential, 4WD advised.

Desert Lilies in bloom: Desert Lilies are in bloom in around Arroyo Salado Campground and other nearby washes, as reported by Pam Blake.  Although 4WD is recommended in the washes around Arroyo Salado it is possible to park a car near the restrooms at the campground and walk in the surrounding areas.   See our Borrego Badlands map - bloom area #2


Photo of Desert Lily, sand verbena and desert sunflowers in background.

A very nice photo by Kevin Key taken along S22 in the Borrego Badlands bloom area.

Sand Verbena, Desert Lily, Arizona Lupine, Desert Sunflower by Kevin Key

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park 2018-19 “Season”
Bloom Analysis and Prediction
As updated 02/04/19
Kate Harper, Desert Research Botanist

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

The first BLOOM pulse is peaking now. What triggered this first pulse of flowers?
  
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 annuals (seeds triggered by summer storms), and just cooled-down-enough to trigger the germination of some “spring” annuals (calendar winter, but what we in the desert call spring). Along with the annual flowers, the shrubs and subshrubs have responded with new leaves and their own beautiful flowers.  

So, right now, as we enter February 2019, we are in the peak of flowers for the first pulse. BUT, just in the spotty areas that received the thunderstorm rain on October 12, 2018. Unfortunately, none of the popular close-to-Borrego-Springs-village flower-field areas are included in this spotty early bloom. For flower areas easiest to access from Christmas Circle right now, try driving out S22 to mile marker 31. On the left (north) side of the road is a sweeping south-facing sandy area brimming with color and blooms. Proceeding a few more miles east on S22, Arroyo Salado (primitive camp) is gorgeous now.  

What has triggered the coming second, more common “spring” 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. That gave the Park enough rain to trigger the germination of many of our “Spring” annuals.
- Think of the desert in the “Spring” like you would think about planting and watering a garden.
- After you have the seeds in, all experts advise, “Give your garden a good soaking.” That is what the December 5-6, 2018 storm did 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. ·        
- To date:
A semi-soaking on December 31, 2018 of 0.52 inch.
A nice interval watering on January 6, 2019 of 0.11 inch.
Another nice interval watering on January 12, 2019 of 0.14 inch.
Another semi-soaking in a January 14-17, 2019 storm event of 0.71 inch.
AND another semi-soaking in a January 31-Feb2, 2019 storm event of 0.74 inch.  

So, does this guarantee us a Bursting-with-Blooms “Spring” this year? Yes! Almost
.  
Only 2 kinds of events could derail a Bursting-with-Blooms “Spring” this year: multiple days of 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 Bursting-with-Blooms year   ∞∞∞∞ ∞∞∞∞  in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park©! 

 

January 31
The bloom in the Borrego Badlands is absolutely worthy of a visit right now. 
The easiest place to see it are along Highway S22 between mile markers 31 and 38, about about 25 minutes (20 miles) east of town.  Additional pictures from this area are shown directly below.  See our Borrego Badlands Flower Map for information.

January 30
More photos posted from the wonderful winter bloom taking place in the Borrego Badlands. All of these are from Highway S22, between mile markers 31 and 38.

S22  Mile Marker 31 by Amy Brewster

Along S22 - Photo by Betsy Knaak

Photo by Betsy Knaak


January 29
Another report from Dan and Pam who went on a Jeep run today--Goat Trail to Blowsands to San Felipe Wash to Hawk Canyon.  They say flowers were widespread, especially  in the higher elevations of Goat Trail and Blowsands.  Lots of brown-eyed evening primroses, popcorn flowers, pincushions, blooming indigo bushes, sunflowers, chicory, spanish needles. Some pictures follow.

Spanish Needles by Pam Blake

Chicory - Photo by Pam Blake

January 28
Fred and Carla have also posted a report from essentially the same area as Pam and Dan(above).
See Fred's Hike details.  Fred says they crossed areas covered in Brown-eyed primrose, with a strong scent in the air from the blooming indigo bush, and dozens of Desert five spot ready to bloom.  Sand verbena, broad leaf gilia, and desert lily, are all in bloom, in this area, Fred says.

Desert Five Spot -Eremalche rotundifolia by Fred Melgert

Broad Leaf Gilia -  Aliciella latifolia latifolia  by Fred Melgert


January 27
Kathy sends us a report this morning on Coachwhip Wash, right across from Smoketree, which is described below.  Flowers to be seen include: dune evening primrose, brown-eyed primrose, sand verbena, popcorn flower, spectacle pod, poppies, sunflower, and the desert lilies are beginning to bloom as well.   We may have photos to add later today.

January 26
Dan and Pam made a report today on Smoketree Wash, which is just east of Coachwhip Wash, along highway S22. See our map.  More early blooms.  Pigmy poppies, sand verbena, ground cherry, desert sunflower, and more.  Here are two photos from today's trip.

Beautiful cluster of Gold Poppies - Photo by Pam Blake

Ghost Flower  Photo by Pam Blake


January 25, 2019
A photo today taken at the Arroyo Salado campground.  There are lots of patches like this in that area.  Some of the patches are heavy with sand verbena, others are mostly sunflowers, and there are areas of desert lilies here and there that should bloom in about a week or so,

Photo by Mike McElhatton


January 19, 2019
Photos from Clark Dry Lake

A: White rhatany, B: White tackstem, C:Red stem filaree, D: Notch leaf phacelia
Photos by Fred Melgert,  Hiking Details
Some nice photos of our unusual winter bloom

This beautiful photo by Fred Melgert of dune evening primrose and sand verbena would have been a great shot in springtime.  But it was not taken in springtime.  It was taken in January!  The location is near the end of Buttes Pass Road.     Photo by Fred Melgert


Desert Lillies are often some of the first bloomers in springtime, well ahead of the fields of flowers.  But again, this is in January!  Same location as above, Buttes Pass Road. 
By Fred Melgert

An early Arizona Lupine and Desert Lily - By Amy Brewster 
Taken in Ella Wash, near Arroyo Salado

January

January 19, 2019
Bloom Prediction for 2019 - "Bursting with Blooms"
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
January 17, 2019
Rain Analysis Related to Blooming Prediction  
 
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 in the desert call spring).  

So, right now, in mid-January 2019, we are having a bloom! BUT, just in the spotty areas that received the thunderstorm rain on October 12, 2018. 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.
Another nice interval watering on January 12, 2019 of 0.14 inch.
AND another soaking in a January 14-17, 2019 storm event of 0.71 inch! Wow!  

So, does this guarantee us a Bursting-with-Blooms “Spring” this year? Yes! Almost.  

Only 2 kinds of events could derail a Bursting-with-Blooms “Spring” 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 Bursting-with-Blooms year in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park!

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 https://wrcc.dri.edu/weather/ucab.html  .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.   https://www.facebook.com/BorregoWildflowers/

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