March 02, 2019

Bloom Analysis and Prediction for the Borrego Desert as of March 1, 2019

Borrego Desert 2018-19 “Season”
Bloom Analysis and Prediction as of March 1, 2019
Kate Harper, Desert Research Botanist

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.

The 2018-19 Borrego Desert Season will have 2 overlapping BIG WAVES of FLOWERS

The first big wave of flowers has peaked and is winding down, but some blooms still linger.

What triggered the first wave of flowers?

We had significant rain in spotty areas of the Borrego Desert with the October 12, 2018 storm. It was still hot in the desert, 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 blooms.

So now on March 1, 2019, the more widespread second wave of flowers has begun.

For FLOWER EXPERIENCES:
So many spots are lovely now! For up-to-date photos and locations, check the current blog at BorregoBlooms.org.

What has triggered the second wave of flowers (our more typically-timed Spring Bloom)?

The Borrego Valley desert floor 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 in order to trigger the germination of annual seeds. And, the desert got it! A storm event on December 5-7, 2018 brought 1.06 inches of rain.

• 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 5-7, 2018 storm did that delivered 1.06 inches.
• Then, what do the garden experts say? “Water at regular intervals.” And, voila! The desert has received just such a watering regime. The well-timed interval rains that are nurturing the December germination have also allowed the October-germinated plants to grow bigger, have more flowers, and last longer.
• Rain to date:
o A germination-triggering monsoonal downpour on October 12, 2018 in spotty areas.
o A soil-preparing rain on November 29-30, 2018 of 0.39 inch.
o A germination-triggering rain on December 5-7, 2018 of 1.06 inches.
o An interval watering on December 31, 2018 of 0.52 inch.
o An interval watering on January 6, 2019 of 0.11 inch.
o An interval watering on January 12, 2019 of 0.14 inch.
o An interval watering on January 14-17, 2019 of 0.71 inch.
o An interval watering on January 31-Feb2, 2019 of 0.74 inch.
o A germination-triggering rain on February 13-18, 2019 of 2.98 inches.
o An interval watering on February 20-21, 2019 of 0.50 inch.

So, does this guarantee us a special Bursting-with-Blooms Spring this year? Yes!

Pretty much nothing can derail the bloom now. The heavy rains in February have given the plants enough stored moisture in the soil to withstand a heat wave without withering, and frost danger has passed. So, even if the winds and the caterpillars have started to work their annual mischief,
It’s a Bursting-with-Blooms Spring!

Posted on March 02, 2019 07:24 by botanywoman botanywoman | 0 comments | Leave a comment

February 21, 2019

My Bloom Prediction and Analysis for the Borrego Desert as of February 19, 2019.

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.

The 2018-19 Borrego Desert Season will have 2 overlapping BIG WAVES of FLOWERS

Borrego’s 2019 Valentine gift was a storm leaving an additional 2.98-inches of rain! This amount of rain in one storm will trigger a 3rd germination of annuals that will extend the Spring Bloom Wave and add new species to the Bloom.

The first BLOOM wave has peaked and will now begin to wind down as the second wave of flowers begins.

What triggered the first wave of flowers?

We had significant rain in spotty areas of the Borrego Desert with the October 12, 2018 storm. It was still hot in the desert, 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 blooms.

So here now in the third week of February 2019, we are past the peak of flowers from the first wave, and as that wave winds down, the more widespread second wave of Spring flowers has begun.

For FLOWER EXPERIENCES:
For flower areas easiest to access from Christmas Circle right now, drive out S22 between mile markers 30-37. In particular, at mile marker 31, on the left (north) side of the road is a sweeping south-facing sandy area brimming with color and blooms. Further along, Smoke Tree Wash is flower-filled (park roadside at mile marker 34.5 and walk left [north]). Immediately east of Smoke Tree on S22 are Coach Whip (to the left--can drive in) and Arroyo Salado to the right (can drive in AND bathrooms at 0.2 mile).

What has triggered the second wave of flowers (our more typically-timed Spring Bloom)?

The desert 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 in order to trigger the germination of annual seeds. And, the desert got it! A storm event on December 5-7, 2018 brought 1.06 inches of rain.

• 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 5-7, 2018 storm did that delivered 1.06 inches.
• Then, what do the garden experts say? “Water at regular intervals.” And, voila! The skies have delivered just such a watering regime. The well-timed interval rains have also allowed the October-germinated plants to grow bigger, have more flowers, and last longer.
• Rain to date:
o A germination-triggering monsoonal downpour on October 12, 2018 in spotty areas.
o A soil-preparing rain on November 29-30, 2018 of 0.39 inch.
o A germination-triggering rain on December 5-7, 2018 of 1.06 inches.
o An interval watering on December 31, 2018 of 0.52 inch.
o An interval watering on January 6, 2019 of 0.11 inch.
o An interval watering on January 12, 2019 of 0.14 inch.
o An interval watering on January 14-17, 2019 of 0.71 inch.
o An interval watering on January 31-Feb2, 2019 of 0.74 inch.
o A germination-triggering rain on February 13-18, 2019 of 2.98 inches.

So, does this guarantee us a special Bursting-with-Blooms Spring this year? Yes!

Pretty much nothing can derail the bloom now. Before the 2.98 inch Valentine storm, multiple really hot days could have affected the bloom. Now however, the soil has enough water stored that even unusually hot weather won’t wither the plants. In addition, the other danger—back to back days of freezing temperatures--is likely behind us. So, even if the wind and caterpillars will soon be upon us,
a special Bursting-with-Blooms Spring is coming!

Posted on February 21, 2019 19:29 by botanywoman botanywoman | 0 comments | Leave a comment

February 03, 2019

My Bloom Prediction and Analysis for Anza-Borrego Desert State Park as of February 3, 2019.

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

The fist 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-town 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:
o A semi-soaking on December 31, 2018 of 0.52 inch.
o A nice interval watering on January 6, 2019 of 0.11 inch.
o Another nice interval watering on January 12, 2019 of 0.14 inch.
o Another semi-soaking in a January 14-17, 2019 storm event of 0.71 inch.
o 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©! ∞∞∞∞

Posted on February 03, 2019 16:09 by botanywoman botanywoman | 0 comments | Leave a comment

2019-02-02, Roadside immiately east of Arroyo Salado, North side of S22 in a roadside depression in the Badlands, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, San Diego County, California, US

Joe Woods alerted me to his noticing Volutaria tubuliflora sticking up roadside as he drove to our botanical survey site of Truckhaven Rocks on 2019-02-01. So, we met this morning to take GPS points, count plants, take photos, and remove the invasive plants.

15 plants in various stages of development. I've posted an observation for each plant.

Posted on February 03, 2019 00:02 by botanywoman botanywoman | 0 comments | Leave a comment

February 02, 2019

2019-02-01, Truckhaven Rocks Wash, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, San Diego County, California, US

My Highlights Today:
• 99+ Erodium texanum. I love this species. The leaves are just about my favorite desert species leaves. I call this species a “Charismatic Microflora”.
• I found 1 Bouteloua aristida var. aristida to add to our previous 2 in this flora. I am drawn to this grass genus (Bouteloua). I seem to have an ability to find Bouteloua in the field.

The last time we did a botanical survey (2016) of this area was when the plants that had germinated were very small. It was fun today to see this area when enough rain (and the timing of the rain) resulted in this proliferation of annuals. It is peak bloom here. Lovely.

Posted on February 02, 2019 03:08 by botanywoman botanywoman | 0 comments | Leave a comment

January 31, 2019

2019-01-27, Arroyo Salado (past Primitive Campground), Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, San Diego County, California, US

Today’s Survey Highlights:
• 1 lovely Nemacladus tenuis var. aliformis in flower.
• I enjoyed that John Randall (The Nature Conservancy) joined us for the first time on a botanical survey. I was in the field with him last November 11, 2018 for an all-day class on the “Geology of the Laguna Mountains” led by Don Barrie, Geology Professor (Mesa College).

We drove down the wash, stopping at 1.1 mile past bathrooms to get out and explore a side wash.
We then did the same at 1.4 mile past the bathrooms.
Both the main wash and the side washes are bursting with flowers. I think this week will be the peak bloom in this wash that is the result of the 12 October 2018 rain.
The flower displays here are worth recommending to tourists.

Posted on January 31, 2019 05:55 by botanywoman botanywoman | 0 comments | Leave a comment

2019-01-23, Ella Wash - Palo Verde Wash Loop, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, San Diego County, California, US

Today's Survey Highlights:
• 2 plants of Erodium texanum with fresh, 5-petal flowers. We rarely see this species in flower, and when we do see it, there are often fewer than 5 petals on the flower.
I love the leaves on this species. They may be my favorite desert plant leaves. I call Erodium texanum “Charismatic Microflora”.
• A white-lined sphinx moth (Hyles lineata) resting on the sand.
• Cryptantha barbigera var. barbigera growing next to C.b. var. fergusoniae—both in flower.
• I found Acmispon maritimus var. brevivexillus in Palo Verde Wash. This was a new species for our entire Borrego Badlands Flora.

Posted on January 31, 2019 05:03 by botanywoman botanywoman | 0 comments | Leave a comment

January 20, 2019

2019-01-18, June Wash (mostly 2.0-3.5 miles up loop), Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, San Diego County, California, US

Today’s Survey Highlights:
• Pholisma arenarium near the intersection of S2 x June Wash where we parked to meet.
• Seeing my first Astragalus insularis var. harwoodii in fruit and flower (just up from above intersection).
• Meeting Dan Gluesenkamp, Ph.D., the executive director of CNPS (California Native Plant Society) whom I admire for his effectiveness and tireless activism. He joined us for the botanical survey today.

Posted on January 20, 2019 21:28 by botanywoman botanywoman | 0 comments | Leave a comment

January 12, 2019

2019-01-11, Canebrake Wash and Mouth of Girly Book Canyon, Canebrake Area, San Diego County, US

Today’s Survey Highlights:
• The tiny, delicate Astragalus nuttallianus var. cedrocensis in flower.
• Eremothera refracta with a few open flowers (usually open at dusk and are closed at this late morning observation time).
• First flowering Mohavea confertiflora of the Season.
• First flowering Eucrypta micrantha of the Season.
• First flowering Diplacus bigelovii var. bigelovii of the Season.
• Many Neogaerrhinum filipes [Antirrhinum f.] in bud. I so enjoy this little vine (twines with its pedicel).
See https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/19597808

I posted 84 iNat observations of 76 species today (the most in a day, so far).
They begin here https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/19591478

Posted on January 12, 2019 23:56 by botanywoman botanywoman | 0 comments | Leave a comment

January 11, 2019

2019-01-07_Sandy Areas N of San Felipe Wash, just W of Buttes Pass Rd x SFW_Anza-Borrego Desert State Park_San Diego County_California_US

We continued GPS’ing Astragalus aridus in order to be able to map the population of this rare plant. This is the first year I've seen it. I had 42 GPS points of it today. Tom Chester and Walt Fidler were also GPS'ing locations (we spread out).

Overall, less diversity than the previous two surveys immediately E of here.

Highlight of the day for me was finding 6 Cleomella obtusifolia (4 in flower--yellow). I GPS'd the locations. I now have anchored my search image for this plant. Before today, we had seen just 1 on our surveys in this area.

Curiously, unlike our last survey E of here on 2 Jan 2019, we saw no ~Eriastrum harwoodii today. Last survey, there were many. I was ready to GPS the new locations today, but nothing. The semi-stable dunes here likely have a slightly different suite of characteristics that are no longer favorable for ~E. harwoodii. I'm looking forward to returning E of here later in the season to confirm the E. harwoodii ID when the plant flowers. I haven't seen E. harwoodii before, but vegetatively this plant is easily recognizable as an Eriastrum.

I only saw one Astragalus crotalariae (in flower--I posted it) right at the beginning of the survey, then none. I did find Astragalus lentiginosus var. borreganus sparsely scattered (2 in flower I posted). I saw 5 Astragalus didymocarpus var. dispermus--more than on the surveys E of here.

FUN FACT: I shared with the group that Chylismia claviformis has the fastest photosynthetic rate of any plant in the world that has been measured.

At the beginning of the survey, I revisited the Atriplex elegans var. fasciculata from 2 surveys ago. It was in flower. I posted an observation of it.

***On 10 Jan 2019, Tom Chester sent out an email report of this research survey. His email follows:

Nancy Accola, Walt Fidler, Kate Harper, Jim Roberts, Joe Woods and I had
the usual delightful time botanizing this floriferous area. And the
weather was perfect, too.

Pix from our wonderful iNat observers from this trip:

Kate Harper, 65 observations of 55 taxa:

https://www.inaturalist.org/calendar/botanywoman/2019/1/7

Jim Roberts, 55 Observations of 53 taxa:

https://www.inaturalist.org/calendar/jimirob1/2019/1/7

Highlights:

- The absolute highlight of this trip came on the drive home, when Nancy
Accola and I saw a female MOUNTAIN LION crossing the road in front of us on
the drive home.

- Seeing a Langloisia setosissima in bloom, found by Jim Roberts. I love
that plant!

Jim's pix:

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/19538381

Kate's pix:

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/19528160

- Continuing our census of the Astragalus aridus population. We're now up
to seeing a minimum of 500 plants, at 443 GPS points! My best estimate now
of the population here is _probably_ a minimum of 1,000 plants, and maybe
2,000 plants.

- Using my numbers, I saw 1,118 plants of 54 species in bloom, almost
exactly what I recorded on the previous trip. Walt had an even better trip
than he did on 1/2/19; including his observations earlier in the day before
we got there, he found 3,040 plants of 77 species in bloom! (;-)

It again was wonderful to see Borrego milkvetch in bloom, now joined by
Astragalus crotalariae:

Jim's pix of the two species:

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/19535984

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/19534077

Kate's pix of the two species:

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/19498399

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/19495303

Nancy was particularly excited to see the first bloom on the Aliciella:

Jim's pix:

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/19560583

Kate's pix:

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/19535268

- Frost damage to the plants was minimal. One Dicoria canescens was quite
unhappy; some Palafoxia had drooping upper branches; and some Eriogonum
thomasii had frost-bitten ends of its inflorescence. But 99.9% of the
plants were unscathed. In particular, the Geraea looked like they had
completely recovered; yay!

- We found some huge desert lily plants, one with 14 basal leaves, and
another with an estimated 140 buds, flowers and fruit! The number comes
from my counting the buds / flowers / fruit on two or three different
branches of the infl, which each had ~20, and then multiplying by the 7
total branches, after checking that each of branches had about the same
number of buds / flowers / fruit.

As far as I know, this is a record number of buds / flowers / fruit from a
single flowering stalk.

Kate's pix:

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/19533079

Jim's pix (look at the shadow in his pix to see the huge number of buds,
flowers and fruits most clearly):

https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/19560373

Posted on January 11, 2019 04:55 by botanywoman botanywoman | 0 comments | Leave a comment

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