Hesperocallis undulata mass flowering - eastern California along I-10

Dolores Boutin deeboutin@gmail.com
Fri, 13 Mar 2020 17:30:17 PDT
Thanks. Wish I could go and see it.

On Fri, Mar 13, 2020 at 9:22 AM <vkmyrick@pacbell.net> wrote:

> Was there a photo included in the email?  I couldn’t find it.  Val Myrick,
> Sonora, CA
> > On Mar 11, 2020, at 8:30 PM, oooOIOooo via pbs <
> pbs@lists.pacificbulbsociety.net> wrote:
> >
> > Today I saw an enormous mass flowering of Hesperocallis undulata along
> Interstate 10 in eastern California, west of Blythe. There are hundreds of
> thousands of plants in synchronous flowering. Ford Dry Lake is north of the
> highway in this map view:
> >
> > https://wego.here.com//…
> >
> > The site is between Desert Center and Blythe, about halfway between Los
> Angeles and Phoenix. It is about 3-4 hours from Los Angeles and 2 1/2 from
> Phoenix. The Beehive Ditch, crossed by I-10 and signed, was approximately
> the center of the population. There is a sign for an exit to Ford Dry Lake
> for hiking. It would be an easy day trip this weekend for people in metro
> southern California or Phoenix.
> >
> > The highway cuts across a gentle sandy slope from the higher south down
> to the dry lake to the north. The plants are growing all along this slope.
> There are fewer on the south (higher) side of the highway; quite a few in
> the very wide median between the northbound and southbound lanes; and a
> very large number to the south of the highway, growing as far as my vision
> permitted me to see. I did not stop so I don't know how close they grow to
> the salty dry lakebed. In some areas the plants are separated by 2-3 meters
> in either direction, and in other areas there are at least 10 plants in an
> area of about 3 square meters. I would estimate there are hundreds of
> thousands of plants flowering, maybe more if the plants grow all around the
> dry lake.
> >
> > The population extended for close to ten miles along the highway. To the
> east, the population gradually thinned out, but to the west, the terrain
> rises, and the plants stopped abruptly.
> >
> > This plant has a vertical spike with sessile white flowers arranged in a
> spiral, rising from a sparse rosette of narrow, smallish, grayish green,
> thick and wavy leaves. They appeared to be close to a meter tall. Most
> plants had one inflorescence, but many had 2, 3 or even 4 inflorescences.
> All seemed to be at the same stage of flowering. The bottom few flowers had
> finished and the next rank of flowers above this was open. I don't know how
> long an inflorescence of this lasts, but they probably opened within the
> last few days to one week.
> >
> > I have driven past this spot many hundreds of times in the past 40
> years, at all seasons. I have never seen even one spike of this plant here.
> I didn't even know it is here. In Arizona it occurs sporadically in desert
> washes, or immediately adjacent to them. There are rarely more than a dozen
> plants in one area. The vast number of plants was an immense surprise.
> >
> > Last winter/spring this area had more rain than this year, and the
> general flower display was even better. But there were no Hesperocallis
> last year. There are trails at Ford Dry Lake, and a weather station visible
> from the highway. I will try to look up the weather data. I wanted to post
> this as soon as possible.
> >
> > The climate here is almost as hot as central Arizona in summer, and can
> get near freezing in winter. Rain is sparse on average and very erratic,
> mostly falling in winter. Summer rain is rare but can be torrential. A few
> years back the eastbound bridge over the Tex Wash just west of here was
> washed out during a summer thunderstorm, causing severe traffic problems
> for months.
> >
> > Graduate students reading: Go camping this weekend! This is a great
> opportunity to get data for papers on pollinator studies, flower studies,
> and a chance to return over the next few weeks to study seed development. I
> don't think much is known about the pollinators of this plant.
> >
> > Now speaking as a gardener, I have tried many times with seed from many
> sources to sprout this plant, always unsuccessfully. If the plants flower
> now, the seed will ripen during a very hot time of year. The seed is flat
> and black, like many Agave, Albuca, Hippeastrum and Yucca. There may not be
> any rain this summer, and even if there is, it will be sparse, and
> evaporate rapidly. When do these seeds sprout? There is little chance of
> plentiful water until next winter. Do they lie on the surface of the soil
> until then? Or do seeds expect a fair amount of summer water? Is this an
> ancient population stranded as the climate warmed and dried? The Sonoran
> Desert has had repeated warming and cooling cycles since the last Ice Age,
> with regions alternating between hot, dry desert and cooler, moister
> juniper savannah. However, now this plant is only found in the low desert.
> >
> > I am not familiar with DNA work done with the plant, but... given its
> habitat, spike inflorescence, succulent gray-green sessile white
> short-tubed flower, and rosette of succulent long leaves, I wonder whether
> it's really an Agave?
> >
> > I will try to return this weekend, and in the future, with a camera.
> >
> > Leo Martin
> > Phoenix Arizona USA
> > Zone 9?
> >
> > Sent with [ProtonMail](https://protonmail.com/) Secure Email.
> > _______________________________________________
> > pbs mailing list
> > pbs@lists.pacificbulbsociety.net
> > http://lists.pacificbulbsociety.net/cgi-bin/…
> _______________________________________________
> pbs mailing list
> pbs@lists.pacificbulbsociety.net
> http://lists.pacificbulbsociety.net/cgi-bin/…
pbs mailing list

More information about the pbs mailing list