Bloom Reports from the Anza-Borrego Desert: 2021-2022

Table of Contents

Latest Summary of Bloom Status
Bloom Reports from Individual Hikes This Season
Links to Other Webpages on Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Blooms
Background Information for Bloom Reports from the Anza-Borrego Desert
Older Bloom Reports from 2009 to present

Fig. 1. A glorious plant of Xylorhiza orcuttii, Orcutt's woody-aster, in the northern part of the Carrizo Badlands. Both pix by Jim Roberts, taken on 16 December 2021. Click on the pix to go to Jim's iNat post of this plant.

Latest Summary of Bloom Status

Summary as of 19 December 2021

Thanks to some scattered summer rainfall, and some October rainfall, some areas of the Borrego Desert have some species in bloom. If you hike in those favored areas, you will be rewarded by finding about 20 species in bloom. Most of those species will have only a single plant, or a handful of plants, in bloom. But a small number of species, in favored areas, have a number of individuals in bloom, making for a very enjoyable flower hike.

The most glorious species in bloom right now is Xylorhiza orcuttii, Orcutt's woody-aster, in the northern part of the Carrizo Badlands. We observed something like 50 plants with a number of big flowers in bloom, on a 5 mile hike east of the upper part of June Wash; see 14 iNat posts of plants in bloom (click on the "Map" tab to see locations of all 14 plants).

However, most areas of the Borrego Desert, including essentially all of the desert floor, have not received rainfall for almost two years, and it shows in the plants. If you hike on the desert floor, or in many higher locations, you will be lucky to see one or two plants in bloom on a full-day hike.

But the flowers are out there if you go to the right places and work at seeing them. There were 170 iNat observations of 68 species tagged as "flowering" in the three weeks between 1 and 19 December 2021; see the up to date count since 1 December 2021. Click on "Filters" in the upper right to change the date range. There are more observations of flowering plants that we have not yet tagged. However, remember that many, and perhaps most, of these species in bloom are represented by only a single individual, or a small number of individuals, in most places.

Click on the "Map" tab at the link and you can zoom into the map to see where the reports are. Once you zoom into a given area, click on the "Redo search in map" to find out how many flower observations there are in your zoomed area. Each observation gives the date and time of observation, and the latitude and longitude for each observation, which is plotted on a map so you can see where it was from (note that rare species have obscured coordinates, which have a different symbol on the map and wildly inaccurate coordinates from the obscuration).

Bloom Reports from Individual Hikes This Season

The latest bloom reports are given first (i.e., the reports are in inverse order of time).

Latest bloom reports to be supplied

28-29 August 2021. Lucinda McDade reports:

In Borrego Springs, it looks like it has not rained in ages. As you come out of the canyon (?Yaqui Pass), there is almost a sharp line between ocotillos with leaves and those that look like they have not had leaves in ages.

At Scissors Crossing, can confirm your report that there is little in the way of annuals germinating / up despite clear indication of rain. To what you saw, I can add Krameria in flower and one very happy Physalis crassifolia. Wonder what magical combo of things caused such a massive germination of Boerhavia? They are having a great year!

At the Blair Valley camp area: The Senna are awesome and there were lots of Allionia. Boerhavia in abundance and some probable Mirabilis laevis that were just starting to put out inflorescences. A Ferocactus had decided to flower (across from the camp - on the rocky slope with the Senna). Near the camp itself, adjacent to what had been a large muddy patch where a few yahoos had enjoyed trying to drive their vehicles, there was a very large patch of Hoffmannseggia glauca just coming into flower. That, for me, was the trip highlight - have always loved that plant.

19 August 2021. Tom Chester, Nancy Accola, and Jim Roberts surveyed a route along SR76, SR79, and S2 from the Lake Henshaw area to Vallecito Station County Park, stopping where we saw patches of green from recent plant growth, or where we saw flowers. We saw over 1,000 plants in bloom of at least 40 species; see the list using scientific names, or the list using common names.

Fig. 1 shows two of the showiest species we found in bloom, Proboscidea althaeifolia, desert unicorn plant; and Senna covesii, desert senna.

Unfortunately, biting bugs, perhaps "no-see-ums" since the bugs themselves were not obvious, were also present in most of these locations, as well as some annoying bugs in places that had to be hand-waved away repeatedly. Tom received at least nine bites that produced angry red bumps the next day, mostly in areas under my t-shirt and shorts. Nancy reported a similar number of bites, despite wearing long sleeves and long pants. These bugs almost always accompany monsoonal annuals in bloom in our area.

We also observed a large area where essentially all the ocotillos had leafed out. See Fig. 2.

What was surprising is that the location with the highest reported rain total, 2.5 inches at Scissors Crossing on 10 August 2021, had zero annual germination! There was evidence of significant recent water flow there, so it is a mystery why no summer annuals germinated there so far. Also, four locations within the area where all the ocotillos had leafed out also had very poor annual germination.

Links to Other Webpages on Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Blooms

Anza-Borrego Wildflowers Bloom Report by Fred Melgert and Carla Hoegen, often with daily wildflower updates.

All iNaturalist observations in the Borrego Desert since 1 August 2021 (click on "Filters" to change the dates; there were 67 observations of 36 species post as of 21 August 2021.)

Wildflower Updates from the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park official site, with wildflower information on it. When they start producing current wildflower reports, click on the link near the top with the word Update, which might be updated weekly.

DesertUSA Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Wildflower Reports

Anza-Borrego Foundation and Institute Wildflowers and their Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Wildflower Hotline: (760)767-4684. "Information on this recording is updated regularly."

Theodore Payne Wildflower Hotline (Reports begin the first Friday in March)

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Copyright © 2008-2021 by Tom Chester, Don Rideout, and Jim Roberts.
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Comments and feedback: Tom Chester
Updated 19 December 2021