Hesperocallis undulata mass flowering - followup

oooOIOooo via pbs pbs@lists.pacificbulbsociety.net
Sun, 19 Apr 2020 15:05:04 PDT
I first wrote about the mass Hesperocallis undulata flowering near Ford Dry Lake in this post:
I drove through the population on Interstate 10 on Wednesday, March 11. I did not stop. I noticed the plants had just begun flowering, with only a few flowers open near the bases. It was mostly overcast, and the plants were easily visible to me.

I returned Sunday, March 15 and took photos. The plants were well into flowering. A very few had developing fruits. It was a cloudless, sunny day. I was there at about the same time as on March 11. The plants were not as easy to see from the car at 75 miles per hour in the full sunlight, but once I adjusted my mental search image, I again saw them in vast numbers.

I returned yesterday, Saturday April 18, and took photos. Almost all plants have finished flowering. A few have one or two flowers at spike apices. Most spikes have multiple fruits. Less than 5% of the fruits were mature and dehiscing. I would guess a large number of fruits will be opening in the next 1-2 weeks. There are also large numbers of beautiful wildflowers blooming.

The Interstate cuts right through the population. There are plants on both sides of the freeway, as well as in the median. As is typical with Interstate roads, the median shoulder is too narrow to stop safely. The plants in the median are off limits for safety purposes. The outer paved shoulders are wide enough for a truck to park. The unpaved ground beside the paved shoulder is almost at the same level as the pavement. One may pull of onto the paved shoulder, then drive onto the unpaved ground for safe parking. I carried a mask with me in case a California Highway Patrol officer came and asked what I was doing, but that didn't happen.

There is a barbed wire fence at the outer limit of the freeway right of way. I did not trespass by crossing the fence. The outer, north right of way on the northern (westbound) lanes appears to be regularly cleared or mowed, and there are almost no plants in that northern right of way. However, one can see the greatest portion of the population north of the fence, and stopping there would allow landscape or telephoto photography.

The outer right of way on the south side of the southern (eastbound) lanes is much wider. In many places large numbers of plants are easily accessible after parking, without crossing the fence.

If you wish to photograph open, mature fruits with seeds, drive eastbound to Corn Springs Road and begin looking at the odometer. The first plants will appear in the wide, easily walked dry ditch to the south side of the road at about 7.5 miles east of Corn Springs Road. Don't stop here; there are just a few plants. Drive on a little until you see a goodly population in the white sand, and stop. Pull off onto the paved shoulder, then onto the unpaved ground, to be as safe as possible. Exit and walk to the plants. There is a very large group of plants south of the eastbound lanes near a spot where the freeway takes a decided jog, and an isolated clump of bright green desert trees is visible off to the south.

Rattlesnakes live in this area. They are unlikely to be out during the warm day. I did not see any. Just look before you step, as always in the desert. Don't reach into dark areas under trees and shrubs, and don't go poking down holes.

Heading west, the plants are first noticeable after Wiley's Well Road and just east of Mud Ditch. You will see large numbers of them to the north after passing Ford Dry Lake Road as you traverse the labeled ditches Rainbow, Esso, Beehive and Acari. The last plant I saw in the populaton on the north of the Interstate was just west of Rubble Ditch. This is east of Corn Springs Road, so you can soon turn back if you like.

If you miss a spot, the exits where you can turn back on the Interstate are Ford Dry Lake Road in the east, and Corn Springs Road in the west. It does not take long at highway speeds to travel between these exits. You are not supposed to turn around in the median on Interstate highways, although there are many turnarounds for the Highway Patrol and  transportation department.

If you exit at either Corn Springs Road or Ford Dry Lake Road and turn south, you will see a well-maintained and easily passable dirt road. Do not slow down when crossing sandy washes, though. This road connects the two exits; it runs west from Ford Dry Lake Road and east from Corn Springs Road. There are plants visible north of this dirt road, but they are not easy to spot. They are much smaller than the ones closer to the freeway.

I am preparing photos and text to add to the Wiki page. My photos are too big to upload, so I'm learning how to deal with that. But for now, go, photograph the plants yourselves. It's not that far a drive: 190 miles from Phoenix, just about the same from all of coastal southern California. What else do you have to do but clean house?

Leo Martin
Phoenix Arizona USA
Zone 9?
pbs mailing list

More information about the pbs mailing list