Plant Species of the Borrego Desert: 2008-2009 Blooms: 28 November 2008 to 28 January 2009

This page contains the Detailed Germination, Growth and Bloom Reports From Each Hike, the table giving the number of species and number of plants observed in bloom on each hike, and the List of Species in Bloom On Each Trip, from 28 November 2008 to 28 January 2009. See Plant Species of the Borrego Desert: 2008-2009 Blooms for later reports, and for an introduction to this page.

Detailed Germination, Growth and Bloom Reports From Each Hike

11/28/08: Santa Rosa Mountains, Coachwhip Canyon. No annuals observed, but it was only a day or two after the rain, too early to expect any annuals to have germinated.

12/4/08: Borrego Badlands, Ella Wash / Vista del Malpais Wash / Smoke Tree Wash. No seedlings observed along the 8 miles surveyed except in a single location in Smoke Tree Wash somewhat south of S22. There were two circular small patches of the invasive non-native Asian mustard, Brassica tournefortii, which I pulled out, and one small patch of Cryptantha seedlings.

12/9/08: Clark Valley. Germination is sparse, with only the invasive non-native Asian mustard, Brassica tournefortii, germinating here and there on the Valley floor. In the base of a channel on the alluvial slope of the Santa Rosa Mountains, there were a handful of baby annuals of phacelia and Cryptantha.

12/12/08: Clark Valley. Germination is still sparse, with mostly only the invasive non-native Asian mustard, Brassica tournefortii, germinating here and there on the Valley floor. There were a small number of native annuals such as lupine and possibly Schott's calico, Loeseliastrum schottii, that had germinated in a sandy area west of Clark Lake.

12/19/08: S22; Arroyo Salado, 17 Palms, Una Palma, Five Palms. The S22 roadsides near Borrego Springs have turned green from the mostly non-native annuals that had sprouted there. On our hike, most areas still had no annual germination, but it was too early to expect much so soon after the rain. This area has very few Brassica tournefortii so far, but we found and eliminated ~20 patches of seedlings up, most of which had germinated from the November rain. Several areas that had wet mud at the surface had considerable germination of native annuals.

12/23/08: S22; Borrego Sink, Spring. There is now widespread dense sickening-to-see germination of the non-native Schismus barbatus and Brassica tournefortii in these areas of dense Brassica tournefortii infestation: along S22 east of Borrego Springs to Palm Canyon Road east, Palm Canyon Road east down to the Borrego Dump, and along the wash from the Badlands that is east of the north-south section of S22. Some native annuals are up in that area, such as dune primrose, Oenothera deltoides, but they are outnumbered by a factor of 100 to 1,000.

In the very alkaline area of the Borrego Sink and Spring, the non-native infestation is still low, but the Brassica and Schismus still outnumbered native annuals by the same factor. We only saw a small number of Cryptantha seedlings, and a single seedling of bottlebrush, Camissonia boothii.

12/29/08: Henderson Canyon. I expected there to be widespread annual germination in this desert-edge environment compared to the open-desert alkaline environments of my previous trips this year, and there was. However, the patterns in the germination were unexpected.

In the parking area at the middle of the farthest point of the mouth of Henderson Canyon, the germination was not widespread. It was mostly confined to areas such as the base of rocks, underneath shrubs, and on north-facing shady walls of washes and the nearby wash areas.

Interestingly, there were two age classes of annuals, some that had germinated from the 27 November rain, and others than had germinated from the 15-17 December rain. For example, seedlings of common phacelia, Phacelia distans, had only their cotyledons in areas receiving only direct rainfall, but had an additional four quite large true leaves in areas at the base of boulders that received runoff from those boulders. See these examples.

The bigger phacelias are about equivalent to the ones observed last year at day 38 after its first germinating rainfall (it was day 32 after the 27 November rain on 12/29/08).

The floor of the wash had little germination, despite the presence of many dead remnants of annuals from previous years. For example, we saw numerous patches of dead remnant California suncup, Camissonia californica, plants that had at most a very few baby annuals. However, the few seedlings of this species were much smaller than those of other species that had germinated in nearby areas. So it is possible this species just takes longer to germinate, and a robust germination may still take place.

Seedlings of brown-eyed primrose, Camissonia claviformis, and pale sun-cup, C. pallida, were totally absent everywhere. There were dense carpets of dead C. claviformis from last spring with not a single seedling anywhere on our survey.

As we approached the north-facing slopes of Henderson Canyon, the germination increased, echoing the pattern of germination on the north-facing banks in the low-relief east-west washes. The flats out in the open began to have a good cover of annuals. When we got to the slopes themselves, annual germination was widespread, with the perennials making an appearance as well.

1/2/09: Henderson Canyon. Conditions similar to 12/29/08, with the baby annuals just a bit bigger. No new species were noted as germinating. Buds of desert apricot, Prunus fremontii, are showing color.

1/7/09: Henderson Canyon. Conditions similar to 1/2/09, with the baby annuals just a bit bigger. Three new species were noted as germinating, California suncup, Camissonia californica; brown-eyed primrose, C. claviformis ssp. peirsonii; and curvenut combseed, Pectocarya recurvata, which has turned some north-facing hillsides green. In contrast to the combseed, the number of Camissonia seedlings seen so far is very sparse, some 100 to 1,000 times fewer than last year.

The first flowers of desert apricot, Prunus fremontii, have opened.

Some patches of south-facing hillsides have now turned green from new growth on brittlebush, Encelia farinosa.

1/12/09: Henderson Canyon. Conditions similar to 1/7/09, with the annuals still growing. Some Phacelia distans plants are getting quite large. Newly-germinated annuals, mostly Phacelia distans and Pholistoma membranaceum, are still appearing in a few moist shady spots! Rock crossosoma, Crossosoma bigelovii; and wishbone plant, Mirabilis bigelovii, now have buds.

1/15/09: Rockhouse Canyon. The portion of the canyon below Hidden Spring has hundreds of plants total of four species in bloom: bladderpod, Isomeris arborea; punctate rabbitbrush, Chrysothamnus paniculatus; sweetbush, Bebbia juncea; and desert-lavender, Hyptis emoryi. Bladderpod is in full bloom; desert lavender is beginning its bloom, and the other two species are ending their bloom. It won't be long before wishbone plant, Mirabilis bigelovii, joins them in bloom.

There is decent annual germination here, although some of the annuals looked like they could use some rain.

1/19/09: Palm Wash. Many annuals and perennials are present along S22 near the entrance to Palm Wash, which is very encouraging. None are showing buds yet.

The first annuals were observed in bloom today at one spot in Palm Wash, pathetically-small specimens of the non-native Asian mustard, Brassica tournefortii. It was not an encouraging sight. They were only a few inches high, and will produce only a few flowers per plant. They were next to dead plants from last year that produced hundreds of flowers per plant. If we do not get more rain soon, many of the other annuals will bloom similarly pathetically.

Many plants of desert holly, Atriplex hymenelytra, were in full bloom. Desert tobacco, Nicotiana obtusifolia, was just beginning to bloom. One beautiful specimen of Salton milk-vetch, Astragalus crotalariae, was beginning its bloom.

1/24/09: Butler Canyon. The annuals are popping! We came across the first blooms of common phacelia, Phacelia distans; small-flowered poppy, Eschscholzia minutiflora; and even the first FRUIT of curvenut combseed, Pectocarya recurvata.

There were buds and/or the beginning flower stalks on a number of annual species, as well as buds on perennials and shrubs like cheesebush, Hymenoclea salsola; and rambling milkweed, Sarcostemma hirtellum. Many annual species will have their first blooms within weeks.

Not coincidentally, insects were out as well. Butterflies were mobbing a desert-thorn, Lycium brevipes, in bloom at Clark Lake.

Michael Charters shows some of the annual bloom, which came from small plants with only a few blooms per plant.

1/28/09: Rockhouse Canyon. Bladderpod, Isomeris arborea continues to be in full bloom, now joined by desert-lavender, Hyptis emoryi. The bloom of punctate rabbitbrush, Chrysothamnus paniculatus is ending. Buds of wishbone plant, Mirabilis bigelovii, look like they will pop in a week or two.

Although the first bloom of redstem filaree, Erodium cicutarium, was observed, none of the other annuals are as advanced as those in Butler Canyon four days ago.

Number of Species and Plants in Bloom On Each Trip

Number of11/2812/412/912/1212/1912/2312/291/21/71/121/151/191/241/28

List of Species in Bloom On Each Trip

The table gives the number of plants observed to be in bloom for each species on each hike, with a maximum value of 99 plants. Because the hike locations vary, some species will not be present on every hike, so the lack of an entry for a given hike says nothing about whether that species is blooming elsewhere.

The Checklist is sorted first by category, with dicots before monocots, and then by family and scientific name. The Family and Scientific Name are from the Jepson Manual. An asterisk before the Common Name indicates a non-native taxon.

See Plant Family Abbreviations to obtain the full family name from the abbreviations used in the table below.

FAMScientific NameCommon Name11/2812/412/912/1212/1912/2312/291/21/71/121/151/191/241/28
ACAJusticia californicachuparosa      505050502 3050
ASCAsclepias albicanswhite-stemmed milkweed    1      2  
ASCAsclepias subulatarush milkweed2         111 
ASTAmbrosia dumosaburroweed 1            
ASTBebbia juncea var. asperasweetbush2051   11  5073020
ASTChrysothamnus paniculatuspunctate rabbitbrush          99  30
ASTEncelia frutescensbutton encelia 1            
ASTEricameria brachylepisboundary goldenbush       121    
ASTGutierrezia sarothraematchweed         1    
ASTIsocoma acradenia var. acradeniaalkali goldenbush 20 5205     1  
ASTLepidospartum squamatumscale-broom          20  2
ASTPalafoxia arida var. aridadesert needle    1        2
ASTPeucephyllum schottiipygmy-cedar           3  
ASTStephanomeria pauciflora var. pauciflorawire-lettuce2020  3232222   
ASTXylorhiza orcuttiiOrcutt's woody-aster    2         
BORPectocarya recurvatacurvenut combseed            1 
BRABrassica tournefortii*Asian mustard           20  
CACMammillaria dioicaCalifornia fish-hook cactus             1
CAPIsomeris arboreabladderpod          99 299
CHEAtriplex hymenelytradesert holly           20  
EUPChamaesyce polycarpasmall-seeded spurge    2 5   5   
EUPDitaxis lanceolatanarrowleaf ditaxis      2  22 32
FABAstragalus crotalariaeSalton milk-vetch           1  
FABCercidium floridum ssp. floridumblue palo verde 1            
FABLotus rigidusdesert lotus          1  1
FABMarina parryiParry's marina          1   
FABPsorothamnus emoryiEmory's indigo-bush1    5     11 
FOUFouquieria splendens ssp. splendensocotillo2      371010355
GERErodium cicutarium*redstem filaree             1
HYDPhacelia distanscommon phacelia            3 
KRAKrameria grayiwhite rhatany 1            
LAMHyptis emoryidesert-lavender 1    1 1230 2099
LAMSalvia eremostachyadesert sage             1
PAPEschscholzia minutiflora ssp. minutiflorasmall-flowered poppy            3 
POLEriogonum deflexum var. deflexumflat-topped buckwheat3             
POLEriogonum inflatumdesert trumpet11  1  111 105 
POLEriogonum wrightii var. nodosumWright's buckwheat      53030302  10
ROSPrunus fremontiidesert apricot        1     
RUTThamnosma montanaturpentine broom          1 12
SOLLycium andersoniiAnderson's desert-thorn            2 
SOLLycium brevipes var. brevipesdesert-thorn    310      10 
SOLNicotiana obtusifoliadesert tobacco           42 
SOLPhysalis crassifoliathick-leaved ground cherry            11
VISPhoradendron californicumdesert mistletoe             1
ZYGLarrea tridentatacreosote bush 11       21 1
POACynodon dactylon*Bermuda grass             1
POAPennisetum setaceum*fountain grass          1  1
POAPleuraphis rigidabig galleta            3 

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Updated 9 March 2009.