Fwd: Places to see Wildflower blooms - Arizona desert

pollards@adelphia.net pollards@adelphia.net
Thu, 17 Feb 2005 20:43:25 PST
---- Lee Poulsen <wpoulsen@pacbell.net> wrote: 
> 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

The desert around Yuma has been blooming up a storm for about a month, although the annuals ("ephemerals") around here are different than what I'm used to in Tucson (which is considered Sonoran Desert upland).  The desert lilies (Hesperocallis undulata) have been staggering into bloom as individuals for a couple of weeks, but the majority of plants are still growing their flower stalks.  They don't appear to be as tall as I remember them during the El Nino of winter 1997-1998.

The "purple dune lily" is probably Palmer's star (Triteleiopsis palmeri).  For me, it has been a long sought after "holy grail" plant.  I finally found two populations and have been monitoring their progresses every week; some of the plants should be flowering right now.  The only other cool season geophyte (of sorts) blooming around here right now is Physalis crassifolia.  Actually, the cool season is really the only growing season in Yuma; unlike Tucson, we don't appear to get much of a summer monsoon unless a Pacific hurricane (chubasco) blunders up the gulf.  Another interesting plant currently blooming, more of a woody succulent than a geophyte, is the wax milkweed (Asclepias albicans).

I was able to hike the mountains around Tucson and Cave Creek over Christmas vacation.  The usual suspects (Dichelostemma capitatum ssp. pauciflorum, Anemone tuberosa, Acourtia wrightii, and delphiniums) were very much in evidence.  As for mariposa lilies, the Tucson area has Calochortus kennedyi (orange and yellow) and Cave Creek has C. flexuosus.  It looks like the ongoing rain is having the desired effects...

Shawn Pollard
Yuma, AZ

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