Bloom Reports from the Anza-Borrego Desert: 2014-2015

Field of nearly-solid Sahara mustard in February 2010
Field of mostly-native annuals in January 2015
Pictures taken just northeast of the end of the pavement on Di Giorgio Road of approximately the same location.
Left: A field of nearly-solid Sahara mustard, Brassica tournefortii, on 23 February 2010 that had mostly wiped out the native annual display beginning in ~2007.
Right: A field of mostly-native young annuals on 22 January 2015. The previous three years of severe drought in this area (2011-2012, 2012-2013 and 2013-2014) mostly depleted the seed bank of Sahara mustard, allowing us to enjoy a native wildflower display once again here for at least a few years!
Click on the pictures for larger versions.

See also Pictures shown here on prior dates.

See Bloom Reports from the Anza-Borrego Desert for an introduction to this page, extensive general information (not specific to this year) about Annual Germination, Growth and Blooms, including what influences the duration and extent of the annual bloom, photo galleries, and links to other webpages giving information on Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Blooms.

Summary of Annual Germination, Growth and Blooms in 2014-2015

This year is an amazing year on the desert floor in the Borrego Springs area. For the first time since 2005, Sahara Mustard, Brassica tournefortii, is not the dominant plant on the sandy desert floor. By the year 2010, I never thought we'd see a native wildflower display at the end of the pavement on Di Giorgio Road again, since Sahara Mustard had taken over the area (see photos above). But three years of severe drought has knocked down the Sahara Mustard population, and this year we are once again seeing what the desert here used to look like prior to the Sahara Mustard invasion. See Sahara Mustard Reduction in Numbers in the Borrego Desert Floor in 2015.

Although this by no means is even a good rainfall year, it has been a "good-enough" rainfall year which has produced fairly-abundant native annual germination in the Borrego Springs area and west, and it will produce a good wildflower display for the first time in five years (2010 was the last decent wildflower display on the desert floor).

However, so far, it doesn't look like we'll have annual germination in the areas east of Borrego Springs this year. We have found very little annual germination east of the intersection of S22 and Rockhouse Canyon Road on the desert floor, including the Borrego Badlands.

It is early in the wildflower season this year, with the first winter annuals blooming. We saw the first bloom of spectacle pod, Dithyrea californica, at the end of Di Giorgio Road on 22 January 2015, with larger numbers in bloom on 5 February 2015. On 5 February 2015, we saw our first blooms of desert lily, Hesperocallis undulata, along Henderson Canyon Road , our first desert star, Monoptilon bellioides, along S22 near the Welcome to Borrego Springs sign, and our first desert dandelions, Malacothrix glabrata, on the Visitor Center entrance road.

The bloom should steadily increase over the next few weeks, with full bloom on the desert floor perhaps beginning around 1 March 2015. See Plots of the Number of Species and Plants in Bloom On Each Trip for how the bloom has increased in the prior six years, as well as a plot of how the bloom is increasing this year.

See also:

Predictions for This Year

There will be at least some blooms in the area of Borrego Springs and west this year, but how good the bloom is depends on further rainfall. If we get no more rainfall, and the weather turns hot, the bloom will be meager. If we get more rainfall, and the weather stays cool, it could be a good bloom year in the immediate Borrego Springs and west.

Stay tuned!

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Copyright © 2008-2015 by Tom Chester, Adrienne Ballwey, and Keir Morse.
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Updated 6 February 2015