Fwd: Places to see Wildflower blooms - Arizona desert

Lee Poulsen wpoulsen@pacbell.net
Wed, 16 Feb 2005 17:21:51 PST
Here's a report from the low desert of Arizona, around Yuma.

Does anyone know what the "seldom seen purple dune lily" might be?

--Lee Poulsen
Pasadena area, California, USDA Zone 9-10

Begin forwarded message:
> Date: February 15, 2005 11:40:05 AM PST
> Subject: Fwd: FW: Places to see Wildflower blooms
> Hi, Lee:
>  A friend sent me this.  It might help your German friend figure out 
> when and where to go, if he wants to go to Arizona.
>  In a message dated 2/15/05 7:11:46 AM, Crife@WestlandResources.com 
> writes:
> M
> Responding to your forward of the website; the following message was 
> sent
> 'round last week.  I haven't made it out of town yet (too flippin' 
> busy at
> work) but things are definitely shaping up here in town, even.  Could 
> be
> spectular this year.
> Hope all is well.
> C
>>  -----Original Message-----
>> From:     Dan Ginter
>> Sent: Friday, February 11, 2005 12:31 PM
>> To:   All Employees
>> Subject:  Places to see Wildflower blooms
>> I thought I would pass this on.....
>> Don't miss the wildflower blooms: the show has started in the low 
>> deserts
>> You won't have to ask "where have all the flowers gone" this spring: 
>> the
>> wildflower show is expected to be spectacular in Arizona. In fact, it 
>> has
>> already started in the lower deserts around Yuma and early blooms can
>> typically be found in places such as Queen Creek Canyon just east of
>> Phoenix.
>> Lin Piest, an Arizona Game and Fish Department biologist stationed in 
>> the
>> Yuma area, says there are a lot of sand verbena and primrose blooming 
>> in
>> sandy areas around Yuma now.
>> "The best areas are on the Yuma Mesa on the south and east edges of 
>> the
>> city, and south towards San Luis. In the foothill areas of the Gila
>> Mountains, there is a lot of blooming brittlebush, lupine, and
>> scorpionweed. About 10 days ago, there were poppies beginning to 
>> bloom in
>> the Kofa Mountains," Piest says.
>> Randy Babb, a Game and Fish Department biologist based in the Mesa 
>> region,
>> says the wildflower bloom in central and southeastern Arizona will 
>> likely
>> peak in late February to early March. This green-up is key to bringing
>> many species of wildlife into breeding condition. "Deer, bighorn 
>> sheep,
>> and elk rely on winter annuals to put on the fat they will need to 
>> produce
>> offspring. The annuals also provide the nutrition the young animals 
>> need
>> for the first few months of their lives," says Babb.
>> The green-up also provides another species, homo sapiens, with the
>> opportunity for some colorful adventures. "In late February as the 
>> soil
>> and air temperatures heat up, the winter annuals undergo an impressive
>> growth spurt, sometimes more than doubling or even tripling their 
>> size in
>> a matter of weeks. By early to mid-March, the Sonoran Desert will be a
>> riot of color-every nature enthusiast's dream," says Babb in an 
>> article
>> soon to appear in the March-April edition of "Arizona Wildlife Views
>> <http://www.gf.state.az.us/i_e/awv_magazine.shtml>" magazine, which is
>> produced by the Game and Fish Department.
>> Babb says flower species that have long lain dormant will show 
>> blossoms of
>> every conceivable color. "Plants can be found that may not have been 
>> seen
>> for a decade. Every trip afield brings unparalleled joy brought on by 
>> the
>> olfactory and visual delights of nature combined with unbelievable
>> frustration at not being able to recall the names of things so seldom
>> encountered-causing a condition known as naturalist's schizophrenia," 
>> Babb
>> says.
>> The sandy country of western Arizona from Parker to Yuma will furnish
>> excellent viewing opportunities for primrose and verbena. Wildflowers 
>> to
>> enjoy in sand-dune country include ajo lilies and wild sunflowers, as 
>> well
>> as the seldom seen purple dune lily and sand food.
>> The rocky valleys, foothills, and mountain slopes of western, 
>> central, and
>> southern Arizona will supply an entirely different set of offerings. 
>> Babb
>> says that wildflower watchers might encounter hordes of migrating
>> hummingbirds careening recklessly through rocky canyons choked with
>> scarlet-flowered justica. "Indigo and white larkspur blooms will 
>> likely
>> emerge just above the wash bottoms. Vast fields of 
>> butterscotch-colored
>> poppies will cover mountain slopes and basins, punctuated by splashes 
>> of
>> owl-clover pink and lupine blue. Two kinds of hibiscus blossom among 
>> the
>> rocks, one with pale yellow flowers and the other with delicate 
>> purple,
>> along with diminutive white rock daisies. With a little good fortune, 
>> a
>> wildflower watcher might encounter stunning orange mariposa lilies or 
>> pale
>> purple sego lilies nestled among the competition," Babb says.
>> Consider a visit to recently burned desert areas. "These spots can be
>> particularly productive, as the nutrients released by the fire and 
>> lack of
>> competition provide perfect conditions for winter annuals," says Babb.
>> According to Paul Wolterbeek at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum
>> <http://arboretum.ag.arizona.edu/>near Globe, people can expect to 
>> find
>> good wildflower displays this year within an easy one-hour or less 
>> drive
>> from Phoenix and Tucson. He says that because the arboretum 
>> collections
>> benefit from regular irrigation and a healthy stock of both perennial 
>> and
>> annual species, the wildflower displays can be spectacular for a wide
>> range of flowers, such as phacelia, yellow scorpionweed, purple
>> bladderpod, blue dicks, firecracker penstemon, lupines, poppies and 
>> globe
>> mallow.
>> Wolterbek also has tips for people looking for wildflower drives. 
>> "Poppies
>> are almost always strong near Florence Junction on Highway 60 from 
>> late
>> February through March," he says, adding that pink and white variants 
>> of
>> globe mallow can be seen along Highway 79 from Florence.
>> Another area to consider is Queen Creek Canyon, where deer vetch,
>> penstemons and tree tobacco sometimes bloom as early as late January.
>> Wolterbek advises that those driving east on Highway 60 from late 
>> February
>> through April are likely to see Mexican gold poppies, lupine and 
>> phacelia
>> at Florence Junction, possibly near mile marker 209. Species such as 
>> fairy
>> duster, desert marigold, globe mallow and golden brittlebrush become 
>> more
>> prominent as the road gains elevation and as you ascent up and through
>> Gonzales Pass (mile markers 219-218).
>> Driving west on Highway 60, expect to find flowering mazanita 
>> producing
>> pink and white blossoms along the roadsides west of Miami. "As you 
>> gain
>> elevation toward the Top-of-the-World community and then past the Oak 
>> Flat
>> Campground, look for native manzanita chaparral mixed with fragrant
>> Ceanothus (buck brush) and fluffy white blossoms that can resemble a
>> mantle of snow covering the plants," says Wolterbek.
>> As the road descends into Queen Creek Canyon and you approach the 
>> tunnel,
>> says Wolterbek, stay alert for bright patches of firecracker 
>> penstemon and
>> deer vetch (yellow and red) on the north side of the road at the base 
>> of
>> the cliffs. "Look for the waterfall just east of the Queen Creek 
>> Tunnel.
>> Spring rains can leave that wonderful flume splashing for weeks near 
>> mile
>> marker 229."
>> For the more regimented wildflower watcher, a good identification 
>> book is
>> essential. "Be advised, however, any identification book is merely a
>> compromise and sure to omit the one flower you simply must identify. 
>> That
>> is why many of us become beasts of burden on our forays, toting every 
>> book
>> that might conceivably have something we are looking for. I envy 
>> those who
>> enjoy the show merely for the delight it brings to eye and soul," says
>> Babb.

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