Desert Rains and Mountain Snow…

…Make the Wildflowers Bloom and Grow

Valentines Day 2019 brought rains and flash floods to the Coachella Valley.

  desertsun.com

desertsun.com

Cold temperatures dropped snow on the mountain tops… from San Jacinto to San Gorgonio to Joshua Tree…


February 21st

Harlan asks me to join him on a walk along the Indian Palms Trail. He is searching for an unknown wildflower he saw a few days ago and one that even stumped Ginny, our Preserve Manager. You betcha! Any walk with Harlan is a special treat.

We don’t find the whereabouts of the unknown wildflower, but I enjoy identifying the flowers I see with Harlan and capturing the threatening sky surrounding the valley.

California Evening Primrose…

Cheese Bush and something else I don’t know…

Pincushion…

Some type of Box Thorn? Not sure…

Indian Tobacco…


Later in the afternoon

Jeff and I walk along the McCallum Trail in search of Spectacle Pod. We spy with all 4 of our eyes…

Wild Heliotrope aka Phacelia Distans…

Also called Blue Phacelia, the flowers are a light lavender color.

Arrowweed blooming…

California Croton…

And a small patch of Spectacle Pod along the return loop from Moon Country back to the Visitor Center… It’s my new favorite wildflower!

Look at the leaves on the stem…

Sooooooo awesome and unusual!

I turn around and capture the field of wildflowers blooming on the Moon Country Trail.

On the way back we discover…

Lax-Flower…

Desert Velvet or “Turtle Back”…

And purple clouds over Simone Pond…

Wild About Wildflowers

And Harlan…

JANUARY 17TH

Harlan is our resident desert guru who has taken a hiatus from leading nature walks due to a flair up in his back. As he undergoes physical therapy, he is slowly getting back to his game. On this Thursday morning he asks me if I want to walk with him to Pushawalla to check out the wildflowers. You bet I do! I never turn down a chance to spend time learning and exploring with Harlan. Judith is the docent today in the Palm House and she is also excited to tag along. So Jeff takes care of the Visitor Center and Harlan, Judith, and I take off to view wildflowers.

Brown-Eyed Primrose

Chicory

Wishbone

Shaggy Mane Mushroom

Indian Tobacco

Wishbone… again

Not sure… Harlan is stumped about this one… Maybe more Desert Tobacco?

Fagonia

Notch-Leaved Phacelia and Rock Daisies

Cryptobiotic Crust

Also known as “desert glue”, this hidden layer of biotic organisms plays a vital role in desert health. They hold the place in place! Cyanobacteria in the desert form filaments surrounded by sheaths. These filaments become moist and active during rains, moving through the soil and leaving behind a trail of sticky sheath material. The sheaths stick to soil particles and form an intricate web of fibers which stabilize erosion-prone surfaces from wind and water. They not only protect the soil from blowing away but they also absorb precious rainfall and reduce flash flood runoff. They contribute nitrogen and organic matter to the desert. The boot of a hiker or the weight of a tire, however, can destroy these cryptobiotic crusts which take 5 to 7 years to return. (nps.org)

Chicory… again

Whispering Bells

A cool rock Judith and I really like!

Sand Verbena

Bladderpod


Quiz Time

Okay, I’ve been taking pictures of desert wildflowers for awhile now and identifying them in my journal posts. How many can you identify?

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Answers at end of blog…


January 26th

We wake up to an unpleasant surprise…

Yikes! More palm fronds have fallen from the same palm tree in front of the Visitor Center. Jeff and I live right behind the Palm House and sleep with our windows open, yet we heard no noise from such an incredible explosion!

I take pictures and send them to the Preserve Manager, Ginny. She tells us to leave them there while awaiting estimates to trim the skirts off the exploding palm tree. Dan and David secure the dangerous area with caution tape and orange cones.

Meanwhile, Harlan invites me on another wildflower walk. Jeff, Gregg, and Mary join us.

Quail Bush

Cryptantha or Popcorn,aka Forget-Me-Nots

Indian Tobacco

Cheesebush

Pigweed

London Rocket

Phacelia (Notched-Leaved)

Desert Dandelion… one is pollinated… which one?

Answer: The one on the right is pollinated. (No red dot in the middle)


Bonus Question: What plant is below the dandelions?

Answer: Primrose


Answer to Quiz:
1: cheesebush
2: wishbone
3: pygmy cedar
4: lupine
5: phacelia
6: primrose
7: whispering bells

What’s Blooming on the Indian Palms Trail?

Sacred Datura or Jimson Weed…

Goosefoot, another invasive species… aka Pigweed and Amaranth…

California Evening Primrose…

Wishbone…

Notch-Leaved Phacelia and Rock Daisies…

Mt. San Jacinto blooms snow caps in the distance…

London Rocket and Rock Daisies…

Barrel Cactus…

A social trail…

More Barell Cactus…

Mt. San Jacinto again…

A hillside getting ready to bloom…

Jincus…

Another hillside ready to explode with color!

Going on a Ghost Hunt

And Stopping to Smell the Flowers!

All we know is that the ghost flower is somewhere near Horseshoe Palms and the last time we looked for it we ended up on a goose-chase of a ghost hunt.

So we start on the Pushawalla wash and head down to Horseshoe Palms.

Before we even get to the wash trail, however, wildflowers slow us down as I stop to take pictures.

Purple Notch-Leaved Phacelia and white Chicory…

Cryptantha or Desert Forget-Me-Not…

Golden Poppies…

Bladder Pod…

On the wash trail we encounter red Woody Bottle Washer Primrose and white and pink Brown-Eyed Primrose.

Some type of Box Thorn…

Sandblazing Star…

Pincushion…

A Pincushion and Desert Dandelion…

Little Golden Poppy…

Brown-Eyed Primrose and Woody Bottle Washer Primrose…

Our Secret Garden… on the Pushawalla wash…

There’s a lot going on here. Rock Daisies and Whispering Bells bloom amongst old favorites.

California Evening Primrose…

Such tiny delicate yellow flowers…

A beautiful picture of an opened Sandblazing Star…

Arizona Lupine…

Desert Sunflowers and Lupine…

More Desert Sunflowers…

Not sure yet what this prickly little guy is yet…


FINALLY… Ta Da…

We find the ghost!

There’s a patch of Ghost Flowers hugging the side of a hill right before we descend into Horseshoe Palms! Sooo beautiful!


As we descend upon the plateau into Horseshoe Palms, a desert bouquet awaits us.

And then I look up and see movement in the hills below Pushawalla ridge and above Horseshoe Palms. How did these folks get off trail here?

The arrow in the picture below shows where the trail is. Right after I take this pic, the 2 people start sliding down the hill.

I will never find out how they got off trail or what possessed them to venture off trail to begin with. This is an example of what NOT TO DO when hiking in the Coachella Valley Preserve.


We take a social trail back to the Visitor Center.

And then we discover a new surprise as we ascend out of Horseshoe Palms toward Pushawalla Ridge…

Desert Five Spot

It’s not open yet but I can hardly wait!

When the flower opens, it looks like this:

 picture courtesy of a Preserve visitor 

So, this is my new wildflower goal: find and take a picture of an open Five Spot!