Category

Flora

Photographs of Southern California’s Spring Wildflowers — the 2017 Super Bloom

Carlsbad, Desert, Joshua Tree, San Diego, Wildflowers

During March and early April of this year I was chasing the wildflower bloom around the southernmost parts of California. The wildflower bloom was indeed spectacular and went on for weeks with vast displays of color. Was it a “super bloom”? I’m not sure. Somewhere during March the interwebs began using “super bloom” and the term stuck. I’ve seen wildflower blooms equally spectacular in the past, especially in the desert, so perhaps those past events were all “super blooms” as well. One huge difference this year is that social media and news outlets picked up on it and created crowds the like I have never seen before. I did much of my photographing midweek in order for me to find solitude in the flower fields — weekends were out of the question due to the sheer number of people. My outings took me to Anza Borrego Desert State Park (many times), Joshua Tree National Park, Carrizo Plain National Monument, Elsinore, Hemet, Santa Rosa Plateau, Mount Palomar, La Jolla, and my backyard of La Costa and Carlsbad. Below are 42 of my favorite spring wildflower images from the Super Bloom of 2017. They are presented in the order in which they were made, starting around March 6 and ending mid April. Cheers, and thanks for looking!

California Poppies, Elsinore

California Poppies, Elsinore
Image ID: 33115
Location: Elsinore, California, USA

California Poppies, Rancho La Costa, Carlsbad

California Poppies, Rancho La Costa, Carlsbad
Image ID: 33120
Location: Rancho La Costa, Carlsbad, California, USA

Desert Lily in bloom, Anza Borrego Desert State Park, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Borrego Springs, California

Desert Lily in bloom, Anza Borrego Desert State Park
Image ID: 33124
Location: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Borrego Springs, California, USA

Dune Evening Primrose bloom in Anza Borrego Desert State Park, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Borrego Springs, California

Dune Evening Primrose bloom in Anza Borrego Desert State Park
Image ID: 33126
Location: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Borrego Springs, California, USA

California Poppies, Rancho La Costa, Carlsbad

California Poppies, Rancho La Costa, Carlsbad
Image ID: 33131
Location: Rancho La Costa, Carlsbad, California, USA

California Poppies, Diamond Valley Lake, Hemet

California Poppies, Diamond Valley Lake, Hemet
Image ID: 33134
Location: Hemet, California, USA

Wildflowers carpets the hills at Diamond Valley Lake, Hemet

Wildflowers carpets the hills at Diamond Valley Lake, Hemet
Image ID: 33139
Location: Hemet, California, USA

Wildflowers Bloom in Spring, Joshua Tree National Park

Wildflowers Bloom in Spring, Joshua Tree National Park
Image ID: 33142
Location: Joshua Tree National Park, California, USA

Wildflowers Bloom in Spring, Joshua Tree National Park

Wildflowers Bloom in Spring, Joshua Tree National Park
Image ID: 33144
Location: Joshua Tree National Park, California, USA

Wildflowers Bloom in Spring, Joshua Tree National Park

Wildflowers Bloom in Spring, Joshua Tree National Park
Image ID: 33146
Location: Joshua Tree National Park, California, USA

Chocolate lily growing among grasses on oak-covered hillsides. The chocolate lily is a herbaceous perennial monocot that is increasingly difficult to find in the wild due to habitat loss. The flower is a striking brown color akin to the color of chocolate, Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve, Murrieta, California

Chocolate lily growing among grasses on oak-covered hillsides. The chocolate lily is a herbaceous perennial monocot that is increasingly difficult to find in the wild due to habitat loss. The flower is a striking brown color akin to the color of chocolate.
Image ID: 33151
Location: Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve, Murrieta, California, USA

Wildflowers bloom in Anza Borrego Desert State Park, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Borrego Springs, California

Wildflowers bloom in Anza Borrego Desert State Park
Image ID: 33154
Location: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Borrego Springs, California, USA

California Poppies, Rancho La Costa, Carlsbad

California Poppies, Rancho La Costa, Carlsbad
Image ID: 33161
Location: Rancho La Costa, Carlsbad, California, USA

Panorama of California Poppies, Rancho La Costa, Carlsbad

Panorama of California Poppies, Rancho La Costa, Carlsbad
Image ID: 33164
Location: Rancho La Costa, Carlsbad, California, USA

Dune Evening Primrose bloom in Anza Borrego Desert State Park, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Borrego Springs, California

Dune Evening Primrose bloom in Anza Borrego Desert State Park
Image ID: 33168
Location: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Borrego Springs, California, USA

Wildflowers bloom in Anza Borrego Desert State Park, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Borrego Springs, California

Wildflowers bloom in Anza Borrego Desert State Park
Image ID: 33173
Location: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Borrego Springs, California, USA

Wildflowers bloom in Anza Borrego Desert State Park, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Borrego Springs, California

Wildflowers bloom in Anza Borrego Desert State Park
Image ID: 33179
Location: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Borrego Springs, California, USA

Dune Evening Primrose bloom in Anza Borrego Desert State Park, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Borrego Springs, California

Dune Evening Primrose bloom in Anza Borrego Desert State Park
Image ID: 33184
Location: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Borrego Springs, California, USA

Dune Evening Primrose bloom in Anza Borrego Desert State Park, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Borrego Springs, California

Dune Evening Primrose bloom in Anza Borrego Desert State Park
Image ID: 33186
Location: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Borrego Springs, California, USA

Wildflowers bloom in Anza Borrego Desert State Park, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Borrego Springs, California

Wildflowers bloom in Anza Borrego Desert State Park
Image ID: 33188
Location: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Borrego Springs, California, USA

Brittlebush bloom in Anza Borrego Desert State Park, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Borrego Springs, California

Brittlebush bloom in Anza Borrego Desert State Park
Image ID: 33192
Location: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Borrego Springs, California, USA

Brittlebush bloom in Anza Borrego Desert State Park, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Borrego Springs, California

Brittlebush bloom in Anza Borrego Desert State Park
Image ID: 33193
Location: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Borrego Springs, California, USA

Brittlebush bloom in Anza Borrego Desert State Park, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Borrego Springs, California

Brittlebush bloom in Anza Borrego Desert State Park
Image ID: 33198
Location: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Borrego Springs, California, USA

Brittlebush bloom in Anza Borrego Desert State Park, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Borrego Springs, California

Brittlebush bloom in Anza Borrego Desert State Park
Image ID: 33200
Location: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Borrego Springs, California, USA

Purple owls clover, Rancho La Costa, Carlsbad

Purple owls clover, Rancho La Costa, Carlsbad
Image ID: 33208
Location: Rancho La Costa, Carlsbad, California, USA

Wildflowers, Rancho La Costa, Carlsbad

Wildflowers, Rancho La Costa, Carlsbad
Image ID: 33213
Location: Rancho La Costa, Carlsbad, California, USA

Dune Evening Primrose bloom in Anza Borrego Desert State Park, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Borrego Springs, California

Dune Evening Primrose bloom in Anza Borrego Desert State Park
Image ID: 33220
Location: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Borrego Springs, California, USA

Wildflowers bloom across Carrizo Plains National Monument, Carrizo Plain National Monument, California

Wildflowers bloom across Carrizo Plains National Monument
Image ID: 33227
Location: Carrizo Plain National Monument, California, USA

A Panorama of Wildflowers blooms across Carrizo Plains National Monument, Carrizo Plain National Monument, California

A Panorama of Wildflowers blooms across Carrizo Plains National Monument
Image ID: 33229
Location: Carrizo Plain National Monument, California, USA

Mustard and other Wildflowers bloom across Carrizo Plains National Monument, Carrizo Plain National Monument, California

Mustard and other Wildflowers bloom across Carrizo Plains National Monument
Image ID: 33231
Location: Carrizo Plain National Monument, California, USA

Wildflowers bloom across Carrizo Plains National Monument, Carrizo Plain National Monument, California

Wildflowers bloom across Carrizo Plains National Monument
Image ID: 33234
Location: Carrizo Plain National Monument, California, USA

Wildflowers bloom across Carrizo Plains National Monument, Carrizo Plain National Monument, California

Wildflowers bloom across Carrizo Plains National Monument
Image ID: 33237
Location: Carrizo Plain National Monument, California, USA

Wildflowers bloom across Carrizo Plains National Monument, Carrizo Plain National Monument, California

Wildflowers bloom across Carrizo Plains National Monument
Image ID: 33238
Location: Carrizo Plain National Monument, California, USA

Wildflowers bloom across Carrizo Plains National Monument, Carrizo Plain National Monument, California

Wildflowers bloom across Carrizo Plains National Monument
Image ID: 33240
Location: Carrizo Plain National Monument, California, USA

Wildflowers bloom across Carrizo Plains National Monument, Carrizo Plain National Monument, California

Wildflowers bloom across Carrizo Plains National Monument
Image ID: 33242
Location: Carrizo Plain National Monument, California, USA

Wildflowers bloom across Carrizo Plains National Monument, Carrizo Plain National Monument, California

Wildflowers bloom across Carrizo Plains National Monument
Image ID: 33243
Location: Carrizo Plain National Monument, California, USA

Wildflowers bloom across Carrizo Plains National Monument, Carrizo Plain National Monument, California

Wildflowers bloom across Carrizo Plains National Monument
Image ID: 33244
Location: Carrizo Plain National Monument, California, USA

Wildflowers bloom across Carrizo Plains National Monument, Carrizo Plain National Monument, California

Wildflowers bloom across Carrizo Plains National Monument
Image ID: 33246
Location: Carrizo Plain National Monument, California, USA

Wildflowers bloom across Carrizo Plains National Monument, Carrizo Plain National Monument, California

Wildflowers bloom across Carrizo Plains National Monument
Image ID: 33249
Location: Carrizo Plain National Monument, California, USA

Wildflowers bloom across Carrizo Plains National Monument, Carrizo Plain National Monument, California

Wildflowers bloom across Carrizo Plains National Monument
Image ID: 33252
Location: Carrizo Plain National Monument, California, USA

Wildflowers bloom across Carrizo Plains National Monument, Carrizo Plain National Monument, California

Wildflowers bloom across Carrizo Plains National Monument
Image ID: 33257
Location: Carrizo Plain National Monument, California, USA

Wildflowers along the La Jolla Cove cliffs, sunrise

Wildflowers along the La Jolla Cove cliffs, sunrise
Image ID: 33264
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Ancient Bristlecone Pines, Full Moon and Starry Night, Patriarch Grove

Astrophotography and Night Scapes, Trees, White Mountains

This is the best image I made during a May trip through the White Mountains and Tioga Pass. I set out to find new, photogenic ancient bristlecone pine trees, something other than the two iconic brutes along the Discovery Trail near Schulman Grove and the oft-photographed leaner near the Patriarch Grove parking lot. I found some really nice ones, and spent the last light of the day photographing them, returning again after dinner to photograph them under the moonlight and stars. This is the panoramic image I wanted to create on this trip, depicting a stately old bristlecone, somewhat alone on the dolomite-white slopes of the White Mountains but with its brethren in the background of the composition, with a view along the crest of the White Mountains and the Sierra Nevada in the distance. It is humbling to know that his tree owned such an expansive view for centuries, watching storms peel off the distant Sierra Nevada, pass over the Owens Valley far below and crash against its rooted home in the White Mountains, the bitter winds blowing the tree eastward and sculpting it into its now-gnarled form. This panorama is actually an enormous image which, at full resolution, will print up to 4′ high by 11′ long. Please contact me for licensing, printing and any use of this image. Cheers and thanks for looking!

Ancient bristlecone pine trees at night, under a clear night sky full of stars, lit by a full moon, near Patriarch Grove, Pinus longaeva, White Mountains, Inyo National Forest

Ancient bristlecone pine trees at night, under a clear night sky full of stars, lit by a full moon, near Patriarch Grove.
Image ID: 28533
Species: Ancient Bristlecone Pine, Pinus longaeva
Location: White Mountains, Inyo National Forest, California, USA

Ancient Bristlecone Pine Trees, Pinus longaeva, White Mountains, Inyo National Forest

Trees, White Mountains

Ancient Bristlecone Pine Trees, Pinus longaeva, White Mountains, Inyo National Forest

Ancient Bristlecone pine trees (Pinus longaeva) live in a relatively restricted area of eastern California, Nevada and Utah, typically at altitudes above 9500′. The ancient bristlecone pine tree is considered to be the world’s oldest species of tree (and indeed the world’s oldest sexually reproducing, nonclonal lifeform). A number of individual bristlecone pine trees are known to exceed 4000 years of age; the “Methuselah tree” in the Schulman grove was estimated to be 4838 years old in 2006. These extraordinarily hardy, gnarled and lonely trees are best seen in the White Mountains of the Inyo National Forest in California. These photos were taken in the Patriarch Grove and the Schulman Grove, two exemplary groves that can be accessed by car. A few new images below and in my gallery of bristlecone pine tree photos were taken on a clear spring night with the Milky Way spread across the sky — it was a moving and serene experience being around such old trees with the heavens spread so dramatically above.

Bristlecone pine displays its characteristic gnarled, twisted form as it rises above the arid, dolomite-rich slopes of the White Mountains at 11000-foot elevation. Patriarch Grove, Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, Pinus longaeva, White Mountains, Inyo National Forest

Bristlecone pine displays its characteristic gnarled, twisted form as it rises above the arid, dolomite-rich slopes of the White Mountains at 11000-foot elevation. Patriarch Grove, Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest.
Image ID: 17475
Species: Bristlecone Pine, Pinus longaeva
Location: White Mountains, Inyo National Forest, California, USA

Ancient bristlecone pine trees at night, under a clear night sky full of stars, lit by a full moon, near Patriarch Grove, Pinus longaeva, White Mountains, Inyo National Forest

Ancient bristlecone pine trees at night, under a clear night sky full of stars, lit by a full moon, near Patriarch Grove.
Image ID: 28533
Species: Ancient Bristlecone Pine, Pinus longaeva
Location: White Mountains, Inyo National Forest, California, USA

Stars and the Milky Way rise above ancient bristlecone pine trees, in the White Mountains at an elevation of 10,000' above sea level.  These are some of the oldest trees in the world, reaching 4000 years in age, Pinus longaeva, Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, White Mountains, Inyo National Forest

Stars and the Milky Way rise above ancient bristlecone pine trees, in the White Mountains at an elevation of 10,000′ above sea level. These are some of the oldest trees in the world, reaching 4000 years in age.
Image ID: 27772
Species: Bristlecone Pine, Pinus longaeva
Location: Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, White Mountains, Inyo National Forest, California, USA

Stars and the Milky Way rise above ancient bristlecone pine trees, in the White Mountains at an elevation of 10,000' above sea level.  These are some of the oldest trees in the world, reaching 4000 years in age, Pinus longaeva, Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, White Mountains, Inyo National Forest

Stars and the Milky Way rise above ancient bristlecone pine trees, in the White Mountains at an elevation of 10,000′ above sea level. These are some of the oldest trees in the world, reaching 4000 years in age.
Image ID: 27776
Species: Bristlecone Pine, Pinus longaeva
Location: Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, White Mountains, Inyo National Forest, California, USA

Ancient bristlecone pine tree, rising above the arid, dolomite-rich slopes of the Schulman Grove in the White Mountains at an elevation of 9500 above sea level, along the Methuselah Walk.  The oldest bristlecone pines in the world are found in the Schulman Grove, some of them over 4700 years old. Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, Pinus longaeva, White Mountains, Inyo National Forest

Ancient bristlecone pine tree, rising above the arid, dolomite-rich slopes of the Schulman Grove in the White Mountains at an elevation of 9500 above sea level, along the Methuselah Walk. The oldest bristlecone pines in the world are found in the Schulman Grove, some of them over 4700 years old. Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest.
Image ID: 23236
Species: Bristlecone Pine, Pinus longaeva
Location: White Mountains, Inyo National Forest, California, USA

Ancient bristlecone pine trees at night, under a clear night sky full of stars, lit by a full moon, near Patriarch Grove, Pinus longaeva, White Mountains, Inyo National Forest

Ancient bristlecone pine trees at night, under a clear night sky full of stars, lit by a full moon, near Patriarch Grove.
Image ID: 28539
Species: Ancient Bristlecone Pine, Pinus longaeva
Location: White Mountains, Inyo National Forest, California, USA

Ancient bristlecone pine trees live at extremely high altitudes. In some regions, the lower treeline for bristlecone pines exceeds the upper treeline for all other species. Bristlecone forests often occur in areas where there is a strong carbonate content (limestone, dolomite and/or marble). In these barren, remote mountain areas, exposure to constant wind, excessive sun and bitter cold has molded the trees into remarkably gnarled, twisted shapes that have captured the interest of photographers and artists for years.

The trees do not grow tall — 60′ is about the tallest — but tend to be girthy with a wide base and roots that splay outward in all directions. Ancient bristlecone pine trees grow very slowly, and pine needles are infrequently dropped with some living for 30 years. Pinus longaeva has evolved a few strategies that yield such a long lifespan. Their wood is extraordinarily dense, and full of resin, making it nearly impossible for invasive bacteria and insects (what few there are in that inhospitable climate) to bore into and damage the wood. Bristlecone pines also tolerate a gradual dieback of their bark, in such a way that old specimens may have only a small amount of living bark. While the tree may appear dead or nearly so, this is actually an advantage as it lessens the bulk of living material the root system and crown must support. In some old trees, a thin strip of bark a foot or less in size is enough to support a healthy specimen.

Ancient bristlecone wood is so resistant to decay, and occurs in such an arid and cold environment, that fallen pieces dating back 8000+ years have been found in some groves. These pieces have been used in the calibration of the radiocarbon time-dating method, a technique which is employed in a broad range of scientific disciplines.

Please see my gallery of ancient bristlecone pine tree photos. Thanks for looking!

Palm Canyon Brittlebush

Desert, Wildflowers

This brittlebush photo, at dawn in Palm Canyon in Anza Borrego Desert State Park, was one of only a handful of desert wildflower photos I made last year. It is raining again, the second bout of rain the coast of Southern California has received this week. This is on the heels of much rain earlier in the winter. The pattern of precipitation that we have received this winter — lots of rain in early and mid-winter, followed by a few more lighter storms in Jan/Feb/Mar — oftens sets up a great desert wildflower bloom. It is no guarantee of course, just favorable conditions and increased odds. Importantly, unlike the front that came through earlier in the week, yesterday and last night’s system had enough push to get over the mountains and reach the desert. It could provide that last bit of moisture that the sprouting seeds and young plants need to reach maturity and spread out, which should really help the bloom this year. I’ve got my fingers crossed and am hoping to squeeze out a day or two to take a look for flowers soon and make a visit to my favorite desert wildflower spots.

Brittlebush at sunrise, dawn, springtime bloom, Palm Canyon, Anza Borrego Desert State Park, Encelia farinosa, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Brittlebush at sunrise, dawn, springtime bloom, Palm Canyon, Anza Borrego Desert State Park.
Image ID: 24301
Species: Brittlebush, Encelia farinosa
Location: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Anza Borrego, California, USA

Cholla cactus, sunrise, dawn, Palm Canyon, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Opuntia, Anza Borrego, California

Cholla cactus, sunrise, dawn, Palm Canyon, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.
Image ID: 24305
Species: Cholla cactus, Opuntia
Location: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Anza Borrego, California, USA

Henderson Canyon Road Dune Evening Primrose

Desert, Wildflowers

Its raining now. If the deserts to the east of us get some of this moisture, it should bode very well for the wildflower season. We received a lot of rain in November and December. When this occurs, typically all that is needed is another moderate rain or two in January or February to really make the desert wildflower bloom flourish. I’ve got my fingers crossed.

This is a cluster of dune evening primrose, my favorite desert wildflower. This was made along Henderson Canyon Road in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. It is quite possible that we will never see such displays on Henderson Canyon Road again, due to the recent spreading of invasive Saharan mustard that is unfortunately now carpeting much of the state park. Henderson Canyon Road used to be one of the “go to” places to see spectacular wildflower displays in Anza Borrego. I suspect those days are over.

Dune primrose blooms in spring following winter rains.  Dune primrose is a common ephemeral wildflower on the Colorado Desert, growing on dunes.  Its blooms open in the evening and last through midmorning.  Anza Borrego Desert State Park, Oenothera deltoides, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Dune primrose blooms in spring following winter rains. Dune primrose is a common ephemeral wildflower on the Colorado Desert, growing on dunes. Its blooms open in the evening and last through midmorning. Anza Borrego Desert State Park.
Image ID: 20467
Species: Dune Primrose, Dune Evening Primrose, Oenothera deltoides
Location: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Anza Borrego, California, USA

Coast Redwood Tree, Sequoia sempervirens

California, Redwood, Trees

Stock photos of Sequoia sempervirens, the Coast Redwood Tree.

Sequoia sempervirens, also known as the Coast Redwood, Giant Redwood, or simply Redwood Tree, is the tallest species of tree in the world. The Coast Redwood tree is the only member of the genus Sequoia, part of the Cypress tree family. Reaching heights of 380′ (115m), the Coast Redwood is also one of the oldest and largest (most massive) organisms in the world, living as long as 3500 years and growing to over 25′ (8m) in diameter and 42,000 cubic feet.

Giant redwood, Lady Bird Johnson Grove, Redwood National Park.  The coastal redwood, or simply 'redwood', is the tallest tree on Earth, reaching a height of 379' and living 3500 years or more.  It is native to coastal California and the southwestern corner of Oregon within the United States, but most concentrated in Redwood National and State Parks in Northern California, found close to the coast where moisture and soil conditions can support its unique size and growth requirements, Sequoia sempervirens

Giant redwood, Lady Bird Johnson Grove, Redwood National Park. The coastal redwood, or simply ‘redwood’, is the tallest tree on Earth, reaching a height of 379′ and living 3500 years or more. It is native to coastal California and the southwestern corner of Oregon within the United States, but most concentrated in Redwood National and State Parks in Northern California, found close to the coast where moisture and soil conditions can support its unique size and growth requirements.
Image ID: 25800
Species: Coast redwood, giant redwood, California redwood, Sequoia sempervirens
Location: Redwood National Park, California, USA

The natural range of the Coast Redwood is quite limited, comprising a strip of coastline in northern California and southern Oregon about 470 miles long but extending inland only about 50 miles and typically much less. Coast Redwood trees thrive in this region due in part to the large amounts of moisture that reach the groves through fog that originates over the ocean, as well as plenty of rain (up to 100″ annually). Redwoods that live above the fog layer, and thus only receive moisture in the form of rain and are subject to colder and more arid conditions, are significantly shorter and less massive than those lower and closer to the coast.

Giant redwood, Lady Bird Johnson Grove, Redwood National Park.  The coastal redwood, or simply 'redwood', is the tallest tree on Earth, reaching a height of 379' and living 3500 years or more.  It is native to coastal California and the southwestern corner of Oregon within the United States, but most concentrated in Redwood National and State Parks in Northern California, found close to the coast where moisture and soil conditions can support its unique size and growth requirements, Sequoia sempervirens

Giant redwood, Lady Bird Johnson Grove, Redwood National Park. The coastal redwood, or simply ‘redwood’, is the tallest tree on Earth, reaching a height of 379′ and living 3500 years or more. It is native to coastal California and the southwestern corner of Oregon within the United States, but most concentrated in Redwood National and State Parks in Northern California, found close to the coast where moisture and soil conditions can support its unique size and growth requirements.
Image ID: 25799
Species: Coast redwood, giant redwood, California redwood, Sequoia sempervirens
Location: Redwood National Park, California, USA

Coast redwood, or simply 'redwood', the tallest tree on Earth, reaching a height of 379' and living 3500 years or more.  It is native to coastal California and the southwestern corner of Oregon within the United States, but most concentrated in Redwood National and State Parks in Northern California, found close to the coast where moisture and soil conditions can support its unique size and growth requirements, Sequoia sempervirens, Redwood National Park

Coast redwood, or simply ‘redwood’, the tallest tree on Earth, reaching a height of 379′ and living 3500 years or more. It is native to coastal California and the southwestern corner of Oregon within the United States, but most concentrated in Redwood National and State Parks in Northern California, found close to the coast where moisture and soil conditions can support its unique size and growth requirements.
Image ID: 25801
Species: Coast redwood, giant redwood, California redwood, Sequoia sempervirens
Location: Redwood National Park, California, USA

Coast Redwood trees reproduce sexually through small winged seeds that are dispersed up to 300′ (100m) from the parent tree. Seedlings grow quickly, up to 8′ in their first season. Asexual reproduction is also common, especially when a mature Redwood tree falls: multiple new trees may sprout from the fallen log.

Lady Bird Johnson Grove, Redwood National Park

California, Redwood, Trees

Lady Bird Johnson Grove in Redwood National Park is gorgeous. From clover and ferns covering the soil to tall rhododendron bushes at eye level to the coast redwood trees (Sequoia sempervirens) and Douglas firs towering above, this grove seems to harbor countless shades of green and brown. I spent two mornings in Lady Bird Johnson Grove recently, not seeing another person either morning**, and really enjoyed my time among these epic trees. Fortunately for my cameras, on the second morning I was blessed with light fog that produced sufficiently soft light that I was able to obtain the type of evenly exposed images of these giant redwoods I was hoping to make.

Giant redwood, Lady Bird Johnson Grove, Redwood National Park.  The coastal redwood, or simply 'redwood', is the tallest tree on Earth, reaching a height of 379' and living 3500 years or more.  It is native to coastal California and the southwestern corner of Oregon within the United States, but most concentrated in Redwood National and State Parks in Northern California, found close to the coast where moisture and soil conditions can support its unique size and growth requirements, Sequoia sempervirens

Giant redwood, Lady Bird Johnson Grove, Redwood National Park. The coastal redwood, or simply ‘redwood’, is the tallest tree on Earth, reaching a height of 379′ and living 3500 years or more. It is native to coastal California and the southwestern corner of Oregon within the United States, but most concentrated in Redwood National and State Parks in Northern California, found close to the coast where moisture and soil conditions can support its unique size and growth requirements.
Image ID: 25795
Species: Coast redwood, giant redwood, California redwood, Sequoia sempervirens
Location: Redwood National Park, California, USA

The most useful lens in this grove was my Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 II. I find that my copy of this lens is very sharp at f/8-16 at all focal lengths except 16mm, so when I wanted a very wide image I would rack the zoom ring all the way out and then just back off a tiny bit (17mm?). I did shoot a few HDR images since upward looking compositions in a forest can be difficult to expose properly. HDR, or high dynamic range photography, uses a sequence of images in which the exposure is systematically varied and, when later combined on a computer using special software, hopefully results in an image that has greater range than can be obtained in a single exposure. However, I find that natural-looking results are usually difficult to obtain with HDR software, and my attempts with redwood trees were no different, so I have included only five HDR images (created using Photomatix from 3-5 original frames) in the images I have kept for my files. I was, however, pleasantly surprised to find that the noise on my Canon 1Ds Mark III and Canon 5D Mark II cameras, combined with ISO 100 and long exposure times, was low enough that I was able to sufficiently lighten shadow areas to make the images I originally envisioned.

Ferns grow below coastal redwood and Douglas Fir trees, Lady Bird Johnson Grove, Redwood National Park.  The coastal redwood, or simply 'redwood', is the tallest tree on Earth, reaching a height of 379' and living 3500 years or more.  It is native to coastal California and the southwestern corner of Oregon within the United States, but most concentrated in Redwood National and State Parks in Northern California, found close to the coast where moisture and soil conditions can support its unique size and growth requirements, Sequoia sempervirens

Ferns grow below coastal redwood and Douglas Fir trees, Lady Bird Johnson Grove, Redwood National Park. The coastal redwood, or simply ‘redwood’, is the tallest tree on Earth, reaching a height of 379′ and living 3500 years or more. It is native to coastal California and the southwestern corner of Oregon within the United States, but most concentrated in Redwood National and State Parks in Northern California, found close to the coast where moisture and soil conditions can support its unique size and growth requirements.
Image ID: 25796
Species: Coast redwood, giant redwood, California redwood, Sequoia sempervirens
Location: Redwood National Park, California, USA

Commemoration plaque in Lady Bird Johnson Grove, marking the place where President Richard Nixon dedicated this coastal redwood grove to Lady Bird Johnson, an environmental activist and former first lady, Sequoia sempervirens, Redwood National Park, California

Commemoration plaque in Lady Bird Johnson Grove, marking the place where President Richard Nixon dedicated this coastal redwood grove to Lady Bird Johnson, an environmental activist and former first lady.
Image ID: 25808
Species: Coast redwood, giant redwood, California redwood, Sequoia sempervirens
Location: Redwood National Park, California, USA

**Make sure to get there early so that the tranquility of your visit is not brought crashing down to Earth by the laughter of kids playing tag along the path or the shouts of their parents trying to rein them in.

Eureka Valley Dune Grass, Swallenia alexandrae

California, Death Valley, Desert, Flora, National Parks

Stock photos of the Eureka Valley Dune Grass, Swallenia alexandrae, in Death Valley National Park.

The Eureka Valley Dune Grass (Swallenia alexandrae) is a federally endangered grass found only in the Eureka Valley, in the far northern reaches of Death Valley National Park. Swallenia is a monotypic genus, consisting only of the one species alexandrae. The grass is a rhizome, forming horizontal stems that spread laterally underneath the sand, producing new roots and shoots that lead to a tufted aggregation of the plant. This perennial grass grows on the slopes of the Eureka Valley Sand Dunes. In the past its survival was threatened by off-road vehicles, which were prohibited by BLM in the Eureka Valley in 1976 with enforcement effectively beginning in 1980. The area became part of Death Valley National Park in 1994. We found a number of small tufts of Eureka Valley Dune Grass on the dunes. This one depicts the Last Chance Mountain Range in the background, viewed from the north end of the dunes.

Eureka dune grass, and rare and federally endangered species of grass  endemic to the Eureka Valley and Eureka Sand Dunes.  The Last Chance mountains, lit by sunset, as visible in the distance.  Swallenia alexandrae, a perennial grass, grows only in the southern portion of Eureka Valley Sand Dunes, in Inyo County, California, Swallenia alexandrae, Eureka Dunes, Death Valley National Park

Eureka dune grass, and rare and federally endangered species of grass endemic to the Eureka Valley and Eureka Sand Dunes. The Last Chance mountains, lit by sunset, as visible in the distance. Swallenia alexandrae, a perennial grass, grows only in the southern portion of Eureka Valley Sand Dunes, in Inyo County, California.
Image ID: 25358
Species: Eureka Valley dune grass, Eureka dunegrass, Swallenia alexandrae
Location: Eureka Dunes, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

The Eureka Valley Sand Dunes are home to another notable and imperiled plant species, which I blogged about recently: the Eureka Valley Evening Primrose (Oenothera californica eurekensis)

Eureka Valley Evening Primrose, Oenothera californica eurekensis

California, Death Valley, Desert, Flora, National Parks, Wildflowers

Stock photos of the Eureka Valley Dune Evening Primrose, Oenothera californica eurekensis, in Death Valley National Park.

The Eureka Valley Evening Primrose (Oenothera californica eurekensis) is a federally endangered wildflower found only on and near the sand dune habitat of the Eureka Valley, in the far northern reaches of Death Valley National Park. Observed primarily at the Eureka Sand Dunes, it is also found on the nearby Saline Spur Dunes and Marble Canyon Dunes. According to a 2007 review of the 1982 recovery plan for the species, the Eureka Valley Evening Primrose is “a subspecies with a moderate degree of threat and a high recovery potential.” During spring and fall seasons that have enough rainfall, the plant blooms (typically April through June) with large white flowers that turn red as they age. As soon as I saw the first one, it instantly reminded me of its close cousin, the Dune Evening Primrose that I have seen in Anza Borrego. I am intrigued at how severely ecologically isolated the Eureka Valley Evening Primrose is, existing on just three sets of sand dunes. Sort of like a plant found on only a tiny atoll in the middle of the ocean, but this is the desert. Because of its rare nature and the wherethehellamI habitat in which it resides, it is now one of my favorite flowers.

Eureka Valley Dune Evening Primrose.  A federally endangered plant, Oenothera californica eurekensis is a perennial herb that produces white flowers from April to June. These flowers turn red as they age. The Eureka Dunes evening-primrose is found only in the southern portion of Eureka Valley Sand Dunes system in Indigo County, California, Oenothera californica eurekensis, Death Valley National Park

Eureka Valley Dune Evening Primrose. A federally endangered plant, Oenothera californica eurekensis is a perennial herb that produces white flowers from April to June. These flowers turn red as they age. The Eureka Dunes evening-primrose is found only in the southern portion of Eureka Valley Sand Dunes system in Indigo County, California.
Image ID: 25237
Species: Eureka Valley Dune Evening Primrose, Oenothera californica eurekensis
Location: Eureka Dunes, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Eureka Valley Dune Evening Primrose.  A federally endangered plant, Oenothera californica eurekensis is a perennial herb that produces white flowers from April to June. These flowers turn red as they age. The Eureka Dunes evening-primrose is found only in the southern portion of Eureka Valley Sand Dunes system in Indigo County, California, Oenothera californica eurekensis, Death Valley National Park

Eureka Valley Dune Evening Primrose. A federally endangered plant, Oenothera californica eurekensis is a perennial herb that produces white flowers from April to June. These flowers turn red as they age. The Eureka Dunes evening-primrose is found only in the southern portion of Eureka Valley Sand Dunes system in Indigo County, California.
Image ID: 25267
Species: Eureka Valley Dune Evening Primrose, Oenothera californica eurekensis
Location: Eureka Dunes, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

I recently made a short visit to the Eureka Dunes with my photographer friends Garry McCarthy and John Moore. We were on a sort of banzai run**, trying to cover Eureka Dunes, the Racetrack and Badwater Salt Flats in 3 days. We definitely were not looking for wildflowers, so we were fortunate to find a few Eureka Valley Evening Primroses along the outskirts of the dunes. Our visit took place in mid-May, and heading into Death Valley I figured the wildflowers were past peak and would be burnt to a crisp by the harsh conditions. Indeed, in the lower regions of the park, wildflowers that presented such an excellent display earlier in the spring were long gone. However, the floor of the Eureka Valley is at an elevation of 2800′, where conditions are much cooler. In fact, as we approached Eureka Valley, and especially on the dirt roads between Eureka Valley and Death Valley at altitudes between 2000′ and 4000′, I was surprised by the richness and variety of the wildflower displays. It really was superb, and I might consider that region for a wildflower trip in future years since it offers a ton of solitude and some awesome vistas.

The Eureka Valley Sand Dunes are home to another endangered plant species: the Eureka Valley Dune Grass, Swallenia alexandrae.

**banzai photographer (n): (1) a photographer with a working spouse and multiple kids each of whom has lots of activities that require driving all over the place during the week, help with homework in the evenings, and then driving all over the place on the weekends; (2) a photographer who crams five days of photography into a single weekend; (3) a photographer with a banzai attitude about life; (4) a photographer who photographs banzai trees.

Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve SNR

California, Wildflowers

California Poppy photos (Eschscholzia californica) at the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve, in Lancaster, California.

With Amanda and Tracy in Kansas City at a Volleyball National Qualifier tournament, Sarah and I had the weekend to ourselves — with absolutely nothing planned. This is unprecedented. We took advantage of it by making a quickie road trip to the Antelope Valley Poppy Preserve, in Lancaster, California. Poppies don’t open up until the sun has had a chance to warm them, so we were in no hurry, stopping for mandatory roadtrip breakfast at Denny’s on the way. Sarah particularly liked the surprise I had waiting for her: a brand new iPad with a couple of her favorite movies already on it, along with an eBook (she had to read for 30 minutes for each hour of movie watching). We reached Lancaster about 9am and went straight to the Reserve. We saw bugs, live lizards, dead lizards and more California poppies than you can shake a stick at. No snakes! After the Reserve we did a bit of exploring on the dirt roads around Lancaster, going in a ways from the paved roads and crowds, looking for that perfect field of poppies through which we could frolick and sing “The hills are alive, with the Sound of Music…” in our lederhosen and brilliant Austrian smiles. We met up with old diving and photography friends, Bruce and Jo, who were making a similar loop as we but in the opposite direction. (Bruce’s great advice the week before about where to look for the thickest poppy areas was part of the reason we decided to make the trip to Lancaster in the first place — thanks Bruce!). Following lunch in Gorman, we made our way into Hollywood for a stop at the grandparents for some gelato and a chance to make our own Avatar photos at the movie theatre. Home by 7pm, Leucadia Pizzeria delivery, crashola.

California poppies, wildflowers blooming in huge swaths of spring color in Antelope Valley, Eschscholzia californica, Eschscholtzia californica, Lancaster

California poppies, wildflowers blooming in huge swaths of spring color in Antelope Valley.
Image ID: 25223
Species: California poppy, Eschscholzia californica, Eschscholtzia californica
Location: Lancaster, California, USA

California poppies, hillside of brilliant orange color, Lancaster, CA, Eschscholzia californica, Eschscholtzia californica, Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve SNR

California poppies, hillside of brilliant orange color, Lancaster, CA.
Image ID: 25228
Species: California poppy, Eschscholzia californica, Eschscholtzia californica
Location: Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve SNR, Lancaster, USA

Me in a field of poppies, confused, trying to figure out which one to put in the center of my photograph, Lancaster, CA; photo by Bruce Wight

Me in a field of poppies, confused, trying to figure out which one to put in the center of my photograph, Lancaster, CA; photo by Bruce Wight

Camo for my next photo assignment on planet Pandora.

Camo for my next photo assignment on planet Pandora.