Bloom Reports from the Anza-Borrego Desert: 2022-2023


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. Top: Ghost flower, Mohavea confertiflora, with Bigelow's monkeyflower, Diplacus bigelovii (= Mimulus bigelovii) peeking out below the ghost flower, from Canyon 41 on 4 December 2022.

Bottom: the field of hairy desert-sunflower, Geraea canescens, along Henderson Canyon Road, just west of the Pegleg Monument at S22, on 25 November 2022. Click on the pix for a larger version.

Both pix taken by Don Rideout.

Latest Summary of Bloom Status

Summary as of 7 December 2022

Flowers, flowers, in many places! Hillsides of flowers in a number of places! Carpets of flowers in a number of places! In DECEMBER!!! (as well as in October and November, although the species producing the dominant displays have changed since then.)

These wonderful fall blooms are the result of the best summer and fall rain that we've had in years. It rained at least someplace in our desert area, primarily in the desert transition area of our mountains, every month in the last six months, at a time of year when there is often essentially no rain.

For details on the rainfall, and general comments about the bloom from September through November, see below.

The stars of the show in early December are the fields of sand verbena in bloom, with blooms so intense in some areas that they "hurt the eyes"! (:-) See Fig. 2. Spectacular fields of large plants with many blooms can be found in many places; see Fig. 2 for three places. These fields should continue to bloom for some time, since they are in sandy areas that hold the moisture from the summer rains.

Fig. 2. Top left: from the sandy area along S22 between Fonts Point Wash and the Villager Peak Trailhead on 4 November 2022.

Top right: from the junction of Di Giorgio Road and Henderson Canyon Road on 25 November 2022.

Bottom: at the junction of Arroyo Hueso and the Vallecito Creek Wash Road on 10 November 2022.

Click on the pix for a larger version. All pix taken by Tom Chester.

Hairy desert-sunflower, Geraea canescens, is now in bloom in many places, but the best spot, and the easiest to get to, is along Henderson Canyon Road, just west of the Pegleg Monument at S22; see Fig. 1. Don't wait to see this, since Geraea is frost sensitive, and if Borrego Springs gets a hard frost, it will kill all the blooms.

Rock daisy, Perityle emoryi is possibly the most abundant annual in the Borrego Desert now. It is found in a huge number of locations, in great abundance in many of those locations, and is just beginning its bloom. See two pix from Canyon 41 from 4 December 2022: blooming plants on a south-facing hillside, and not yet blooming plants on a north-facing hillside.

What is especially delightful is that more and more species are beginning bloom every day, such as Ghost flower, Mohavea confertiflora, and Bigelow's monkeyflower, Diplacus bigelovii (= Mimulus bigelovii); see Fig. 1.

There are many locations with good blooms throughout the lower elevations of the ABDSP. In the Borrego Springs area, there are fields of flowers along all the major roads just north of the town itself, and along S22 just west of town. We saw 49 species in bloom on a hike from the Horse Camp to the top of Boulder Alley on 30 November 2022. The southern part of the park, beginning in the Agua Caliente area and extending down to Sweeney Pass, is ablaze with color in places, along S2 and in the washes and canyons. The sand verbena is so spectacular that it can be seen miles away from the road as a distant purple haze. We saw an amazing 65 species in bloom on a hike in Canyon 41 on 4 December 2022!

In the last month, from 7 November 2022 to 7 December 2022, there are 251 observations of 84 species tagged as being in bloom (the numbers will be larger if you click on this link after 7 December). The most commonly-posted species include Phacelia crenulata (Notch-leaf scorpionweed), Pectis papposa (Chinchweed), and Mohavea confertiflora (Ghost Flower). Click on "Filters" in the upper right to change the date range if you want to see only very recent observations.

Some of these species in bloom may be represented by only a single individual, or a small number of individuals, in some places. Also, how many and which species you see in bloom on your hike is largely determined by where you hike and how far you hike. Many species are restricted to a certain elevation range, or certain locations.

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", or use the rectangular or circular area tool to circumscribe your area, to find out how many flower observations there are in your desired 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 observed (rare species have obscured coordinates, which have a different symbol on the map and wildly-inaccurate coordinates from the obscuration).

See also previous bloom reports.

Summary of rainfall this year, and general comments about the bloom from September through November:

There were widespread monsoonal storms in the mountains, and sometimes in the adjoining desert areas, in June, July, and August 2022. Examples: half of Sweeney Pass Road was taken out by wash runoff from a monsoonal storm on 22 to 23 June 2022. In week after week in July and August, thunderstorms formed in the Garner Valley area of the San Jacinto Mountains and drifted toward the Borrego Desert, dumping rain on the Santa Rosa Mountains and the nearby desert floor.

The capper was when the remnants of Tropical Storm Kay dropped as much as four inches of rain in places on the desert slopes and mountain crests of San Diego County in mid-September. Ranchita got four inches from that storm, following four inches from a previous monsoonal storm earlier, and the desert area near Borrego Springs received 1.5 inches.

There was additional rainfall in October both from monsoonal storms and from a cutoff low.

As a result, almost the entire Desert Transition area, the area west and north of the desert floor, has at least some fall blooms, and some areas look gorgeous. Even areas of the desert floor, in Borrego Springs, and from Vallecito County Park to Carrizo Creek, have abundant blooms.

Many, but not all, of the areas with good blooms are documented at iNat, mostly by Fred Melgert and Carla Hoegen; see below.

Some general comments:

To see the areas that received enough summer and fall rain to produce blooms, see a map of the locations where four of the major monsoonal-responding species have been observed since 1 September 2022. Those four species, and the number of iNat observations for each since 1 September 2022, are 350 observations (179 from Fred and Carla) of Pectis papposa; 219 obs of Abronia villosa; 119 obs of Bahiopsis parishii; and 108 obs of Amaranthus fimbriatus (numbers as of 7 December 2022).

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 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 observed.

Many of those areas still have good blooms, but some do not. You can change the date of the starting time by clicking on "Filters" and changing the first date in the "Range".

Bloom Reports from Individual Hikes This Season

The latest bloom reports are given first (i.e., the reports are in inverse order of time). As detailed immediately above, you can see a map of where the hikes were from any linked iNat post of the species in bloom.

For many more bloom reports, see Anza-Borrego Wildflowers Bloom Report by Fred Melgert and Carla Hoegen.

4 December 2022. Tom Chester, Ted Caragozian, Don Rideout, and Jim Roberts saw an amazing 65 species in bloom on a flower-filled hike in Canyon 41. Tom, Don and Jim posted 159 obs of 60 species.

See Detailed Trip Report.


30 November 2022. Tom Chester and Ted Caragozian found 49 species in bloom on a hike from the Vern Whitaker Horse Camp to the top of Boulder Alley. Tom posted 68 obs of 43 species, mostly monsoonal plants.

See Detailed Trip Report, which includes a list of all the species observed in bloom, along with the estimated number of plants of each species in bloom.


25 November 2022. Tom Chester and Don Rideout, accompanied by Cathy Wiley and her husband Chuck Bemis for the first hour, had a good time botanizing Palo Verde Wash north of S22 and its Canyon, finding 32 species in bloom. Don, Cathy, and Tom posted 138 observations of 64 species from our hike, as well as from two stops in the Borrego Springs area

See Detailed Trip Report, which includes a list of all the species observed in bloom, along with the estimated number of plants of each species in bloom.


20 November 2022. Tom Chester, Ted Caragozian, and Don Rideout saw 48 native species in bloom along their hiking route from the Vern Whitaker Horse Camp, to the Canyon just south of Second Crossing. 12 of those species had over 99 plants in bloom. And we never got close to Coyote Creek, which probably had another ten or so species in bloom.

Don and Tom posted 94 observations of 63 species from this trip, including two obs from Don's Borrego house earlier in the morning.

See Detailed Trip Report, which includes a list of all the species observed in bloom, along with the estimated number of plants of each species in bloom.


15 November 2022. Tom Chester and Jim Roberts surveyed for Eucnide rupestris in Indian Gorge and Torote Canyon, but did not keep track of plants in bloom. There were huge numbers of Perityle in both canyons, mostly not yet in bloom.


10 November 2022. Tom Chester, Walt Fidler, Jim Roberts, and Abbyann Sisk had a flower-filled hike in the vicinity of the Vallecito Creek Wash Road below its junction with the Arroyo Heuso. We came to enjoy the carpets of sand verbena reported by Fred Melgert and Carla Hoegen, and boy, did we see carpets of Abronia; wow! Jim and Tom posted 116 obs of 64 species, including some posts from Scissors Crossing and two stops near Agua Caliente County Park

See Detailed Trip Report.


4 November 2022. Tom Chester, Jeff Fields, and Jim Roberts found at least 31 species in bloom from a car survey along S22 from Ranchita to the Villager Peak Trailhead, and a three mile hike from the Villager Peak Trailhead to Rattlesnake Canyon and back along the base of Lute Ridge. The highlights were fields of Pectis still in full bloom in the Borrego Springs town area, and the stunning field of Abronia villosa in full bloom in the sandy area along S22 between Fonts Point Wash and the Villager Peak Trailhead. Encelia actoni was in full bloom from the Ranchita Park Entrance to Culp Valley.

We posted a total of 99 observations of 55 species from our trip.

See Detailed Trip Report.


25 October 2022. Tom Chester, Walt Fidler, and Don Rideout report at least 38 species in bloom from a delightful six mile hike south of the Vallecito State Station County Park. There were carpets of Pectis papposa in bloom, and a number of delightful plants of devils claw, Proboscidea althaeifolia, in flower, fruit, and in a few cases, the dried split-open fruit that IS the devils claw.

Don and Tom posted a whopping 108 observations of 87 species from this trip.

See Detailed Trip Report.


21 October 2022. Tom Chester, Walt Fidler, and Jim Roberts had a fabulous hike from Fages Monument just above Lake Cuyamaca at 4700 feet, down the California Riding and Hiking Trail, which mostly is the Mason Valley Truck Trail, to the junction of S2 and Hornblende Canyon at 2400 feet elevation. There were few blooms at the start of our hike at high elevation, and many blooms near the bottom of our hike at lower elevation.

Jim and Tom posted 32 observations of 29 species from this trip.

See Detailed Trip Report.


17 October 2022. Tom Chester found at least 23 species in bloom on a four mile hike north of the Vallecito Stage Station County Park, and a number of additional species in bloom along S2 from the San Felipe Valley to the County Park. Highlights included beautiful hillsides of yellow from Bahiopsis parishii; fields and fields of Pectis papposa in good bloom, and green, happy plants essentially everywhere!

Tom posted 38 observations of 26 species from this trip, mostly from the car portion of the trip. Fred Melgert and Carla Hoegen had done a very similar hike on 3 October 2022, and posted 134 observations of 55 species from this area.

See Detailed Trip Report.


For many more bloom reports, see Anza-Borrego Wildflowers Bloom Report by Fred Melgert and Carla Hoegen.

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 September 2022 (click on "Filters" to change the dates; there were 4,741 observations of 414 species posted as of 8 November 2022.)

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 © 2008-2023 by Tom Chester, Carla Hoegen, Fred Melgert, Don Rideout, and Jim Roberts.
Commercial rights reserved. Permission is granted to reproduce any or all of this page for individual or non-profit institutional internal use as long as credit is given to us at this source:
http://tchester.org/bd/blooms/2023.html
Comments and feedback: Tom Chester
Updated 8 December 2022