Category

Flora

In Search of Chocolate Lilies

California, Flora, Wildflowers

I got out early this morning with Mike. We went looking for chocolate lilies (Fritillaria biflora) on the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve. We got there at sunrise. It was warm and clear. We found a lot of lilies. They were so dark brown I am declaring them to be a new sub-species, or at least a new variety: Super Double-Kahlua Belgian Chocolate Lily, Fritillaria biflora kahluensis belgiatica. Lucky for us the lilies were near peak, with some past and some coming into peak now. I spent some time shooting oaks and a big vernal pool panorama. I got back home by noon (yay, no ticks).

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, Fritillaria biflora, 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: 24366
Species: Chocolate lily, Fritillaria biflora
Location: Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve, Murrieta, California, USA

Shooting stars, a springtime flower, blooming on the Santa Rosa Plateau, Dodecatheon clevelandii, Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve, Murrieta, California

Shooting stars, a springtime flower, blooming on the Santa Rosa Plateau.
Image ID: 24368
Species: Shooting star, Dodecatheon clevelandii
Location: Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve, Murrieta, California, USA

Oak tree at sunrise, Santa Rosa Plateau, Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve, Murrieta, California

Oak tree at sunrise, Santa Rosa Plateau.
Image ID: 24382
Location: Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve, Murrieta, 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, Fritillaria biflora, 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: 24369
Species: Chocolate lily, Fritillaria biflora
Location: Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve, Murrieta, California, USA

California poppies grow on Santa Rosa Plateau in spring, Eschscholzia californica, Eschscholtzia californica, Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve, Murrieta

California poppies grow on Santa Rosa Plateau in spring.
Image ID: 24371
Species: California poppy, Eschscholzia californica, Eschscholtzia californica
Location: Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve, Murrieta, California, USA

Vernal pool, full of water following spring rains, Santa Rosa Plateau, Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve, Murrieta, California

Vernal pool, full of water following spring rains, Santa Rosa Plateau.
Image ID: 24375
Location: Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve, Murrieta, California, USA

Vernal pool, full of water following spring rains, Santa Rosa Plateau, Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve, Murrieta, California

Vernal pool, full of water following spring rains, Santa Rosa Plateau.
Image ID: 24379
Location: Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve, Murrieta, California, USA

Panorama of a large vernal pool, full of water following spring rains, Santa Rosa Plateau, Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve, Murrieta, California

Panorama of a large vernal pool, full of water following spring rains, Santa Rosa Plateau.
Image ID: 24381
Location: Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve, Murrieta, California, USA

California Poppy Photos, Eschscholzia californica

Wildflowers

Photos of California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) from past seasons. I am hoping we get some good displays this year!

California poppies cover the hillsides in bright orange, just months after the area was devastated by wildfires, Eschscholzia californica, Eschscholtzia californica, Del Dios, San Diego

California poppies cover the hillsides in bright orange, just months after the area was devastated by wildfires.
Image ID: 20497
Species: California poppy, Eschscholzia californica, Eschscholtzia californica
Location: Del Dios, San Diego, California, USA

California poppy plants viewed from the perspective of a bug walking below the bright orange blooms, Eschscholzia californica, Eschscholtzia californica, Del Dios, San Diego

California poppy plants viewed from the perspective of a bug walking below the bright orange blooms.
Image ID: 20539
Species: California poppy, Eschscholzia californica, Eschscholtzia californica
Location: Del Dios, San Diego, California, USA

California poppies cover the hillsides in bright orange, just months after the area was devastated by wildfires, Eschscholzia californica, Eschscholtzia californica, Del Dios, San Diego

California poppies cover the hillsides in bright orange, just months after the area was devastated by wildfires.
Image ID: 20499
Species: California poppy, Eschscholzia californica, Eschscholtzia californica
Location: Del Dios, San Diego, California, USA

California poppies bloom amidst rock boulders, Eschscholzia californica, Eschscholtzia californica, Elsinore

California poppies bloom amidst rock boulders.
Image ID: 20520
Species: California poppy, Eschscholzia californica, Eschscholtzia californica
Location: Elsinore, California, USA

California poppies cover the hillsides in bright orange, just months after the area was devastated by wildfires, Eschscholzia californica, Eschscholtzia californica, Del Dios, San Diego

California poppies cover the hillsides in bright orange, just months after the area was devastated by wildfires.
Image ID: 20540
Species: California poppy, Eschscholzia californica, Eschscholtzia californica
Location: Del Dios, San Diego, California, USA

See lots more California poppy photos as well as photos of Eschscholzia californica.

Raging Waters in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

California, Desert, Video, Wildflowers

It is uncommon for water to be flowing in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. At least, I have never seen it before. Sure, the washes are there for a reason: they channel rainwater that comes down the canyons out to the floor of the Anza-Borrego basin. But the running water does not last long. So as I was out in Anza-Borrego for a look-see at the spring wildflower bloom and cactus situation, I was pleased to see the stream in Borrego Palm Canyon, near the visitor center, still running after the most recent bout of rains the week before. The sounds of the running water were pleasant so I used my camera to record a little video and tried to include some of the brittlebush alongside the stream that is just coming into bloom now. This was shot Saturday morning a few minutes after sunrise.

Anza-Borrego Desert Wildflower Update

California, Desert, Wildflowers

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

I made a sunrise visit to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, my first visit this spring. By 9am I had seen enough to know there was no further point in staying, and the light had grown harsh. There is some good news and bad news — bad news first.

Bad: Since I have been monitoring reports from other photographers for the past month, especially Ron Niebrugge‘s, I had a reasonable idea of what to expect. Nonetheless, I was surprised and deeply disappointed by the extent to which invasive Sarahan mustard has overrun some of the best and most accessible wildflower areas of past years. Everyone who has visited Anza-Borrego for wildflowers is probably familiar with the alluvial flood area that descends from Coyote Canyon, and is bordered by DiGorgio Road on the west, Henderson Canyon Road on the south, and mountains to the east. My fear is that that entire area will never again produce the gorgeous expanses of Dune Evening Primrose and Sand Verbena that is has in the past. Currently, it is totally overrun and choked by saharan mustard. In theory this year’s timing of rain and warm spells should have produced a fantastic bloom in that area right about now, peaking in the next 10 days or so. Well, that won’t be happening. I did not even bother to get my camera out as I made a few stops on Henderson Canyon Road and past the end of DiGiorgio Road; I had a hard time even finding patches of verbena to look at. With some walking way in from the road, one can find patches of sand verbena (Abronia villosa) but honestly they are just nothing like in past years. While there are desert lilies about, they are overshadowed by the taller, engulfing mustard. My favorite desert flower, the dune evening primrose (Oenothera deltoides), is just not happening this season; the few that are blooming are being smothered. To the east of Borrego Springs, on S22 out toward the Fonts Point and Arroyo Salado turnoffs, past years have often had large swaths of sand verbena. That’s not happening in those areas right now, and probably won’t this year. Mustard is starting to appear in those areas as well, unfortunately.

I hate to say it, but my sense is that this year’s flower bloom in Anza-Borrego will be (is?) sub-par. The same may hold true for the Coachella Valley. We saw virtually no color on the western flanks of the Coachella Valley, including almost no brittlebush, as we left Palm Desert and drove up into the mountains today.

Good: I think this may be a super year for cactus blooms. I went to a couple of my favorite canyons and found thousands of cacti, including large red barrel cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus), looking healthy, in bud stage or just beginning to bloom. They look great. I plan to come back in a couple weeks to see how they have progressed. Brittlebush is beginning to bloom now, and looks very good in some areas, including Borrego Palm Canyon (near the visitor center), where it can be seen growing alongside the short-lived stream that is still flowing (video). While the brittlebush (Encelia farinosa) is sparse relative to past years, it provides the best opportunities for color. I am hopeful the brittlebush fills out and covers the western flanks of the Anza-Borrego basin in yellow as it has in the past. If it does, it will probably take at least another week or two to develop that way.

I will return in another week or so for the cactus, ocotillo, agave and brittlebush, but with little hope for the flowers.

Update 1: Micheal Gordon posted his observations (similar to mine). Many have commented on the Carol Leigh’s Calphoto wildflower sheet, also with some dour news about the mustard

Update 2: I was pleased to see water in Palm Canyon, so I shot and posted a little video of the stream flowing past brittlebush.

Update 3: Oh, yeah, here is a shameless plug: Borrego Springs House for Sale! A family member is selling a home in Borrego Springs. It is a beautiful, custom, single-level high-end home with interior pool and courtyard on a large quiet lot. Let me know if you are interested.

Below are some photos I got this morning between sunrise and 9am.

Brittlebush blooms in spring, Palm Canyon, Anza Borrego Desert State Park, Encelia farinosa, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Brittlebush blooms in spring, Palm Canyon, Anza Borrego Desert State Park.
Image ID: 24304
Species: Brittlebush, Encelia farinosa
Location: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Anza Borrego, California, USA

Red barrel cactus, Glorietta Canyon, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Ferocactus cylindraceus, Anza Borrego, California

Red barrel cactus, Glorietta Canyon, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.
Image ID: 24302
Species: Red barrel cactus, Ferocactus cylindraceus
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

Red barrel flower bloom, cactus detail, spines and flower on top of the cactus, Glorietta Canyon, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Ferocactus cylindraceus, Anza Borrego, California

Red barrel flower bloom, cactus detail, spines and flower on top of the cactus, Glorietta Canyon, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.
Image ID: 24309
Species: Red barrel cactus, Ferocactus cylindraceus
Location: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Anza Borrego, California, USA

Infrared Photo of a Giant Sequoia Tree

California, Infrared, National Parks, Sierra Nevada, Trees, Yosemite

One tree in the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoia trees (Sequoiadendron giganteum) is my favorite. Its huge, reasonably symmetric, and sits somewhat alone in meadow clearing so that morning light can illuminate almost the entire tree nicely. Plus, its a nice 2 mile run up through the grove from the parking lot. Usually when I arrive at The Tree I am the only person there, having seen noone on the way up the hill. It was the same this time. What a beautiful morning. I took my tiny mikro-pokket-infraredfotokam along with me and shot some photos. Below is my favorite one.

Giant sequoia tree towers over surrounding trees in a Sierra forest.  Infrared image, Sequoiadendron giganteum, Mariposa Grove

Giant sequoia tree towers over surrounding trees in a Sierra forest. Infrared image.
Image ID: 23304
Species: Giant sequoia tree, Sequoiadendron giganteum
Location: Mariposa Grove

Like this? Here are more infrared photos.

Keywords: giant sequoia, infrared, mariposa grove, yosemite national park, Sequoiadendron giganteum.

Giant Sequoia Pictures

Sierra Nevada, Trees, Yosemite

Many of my giant sequoia pictures are now on Photoshelter, which is the source of this nifty slideshow. Sequoia trees really are the most majestic of all plants. They are the largest (i.e., most massive) life forms on earth, and they are nearly the tallest (exceeded only by their cousins the coastal redwoods in the Pacific Northwest). Giant sequoia trees are one of the longest lived organisms on earth, exceeded in longevity most notably by Ancient Bristlecone pine trees (Pinus longaeva). Enjoy images of these “pillars of the sierra”.

A giant sequoia tree, soars skyward from the forest floor, lit by the morning sun and surrounded by other sequioas.  The massive trunk characteristic of sequoia trees is apparent, as is the crown of foliage starting high above the base of the tree, Sequoiadendron giganteum, Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park, California

A giant sequoia tree, soars skyward from the forest floor, lit by the morning sun and surrounded by other sequioas. The massive trunk characteristic of sequoia trees is apparent, as is the crown of foliage starting high above the base of the tree.
Image ID: 23260
Species: Giant sequoia tree, Sequoiadendron giganteum
Location: Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park, California, USA

My website also has many giant sequoia tree photos (Sequoiadendron giganteum).

Keywords: sequoia, giant sequoia tree, photo, picture, image, Sequoiadendron giganteum, Yosemite National Park, Sequoia National Park, California, sierra nevada.

Giant Sequoia Tree Photo

California, Sierra Nevada, Trees, Yosemite

My in-laws live year-round very near the south entrance to Yosemite National Park. It only takes a few minutes for me to drive in and reach the Mariposa grove of giant sequoia trees (Sequoiadendron giganteum), so I will often go into the park early in the morning and take a run through the trees before anyone else arrives. This time I put my hiking boots on and brought a camera, hitting the trail about 6:30. There was nobody around, not even another car in the parking lot. I made a stop at the Bachelor and Three Graces (how can one not stop here?). Eventually, I found the most photogenic tree of the morning along the upper loop trail, lit nearly in its entirety by early morning sun while the surrounding trees were shaded.

A giant sequoia tree, soars skyward from the forest floor, lit by the morning sun and surrounded by other sequioas.  The massive trunk characteristic of sequoia trees is apparent, as is the crown of foliage starting high above the base of the tree, Sequoiadendron giganteum, Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park, California

A giant sequoia tree, soars skyward from the forest floor, lit by the morning sun and surrounded by other sequioas. The massive trunk characteristic of sequoia trees is apparent, as is the crown of foliage starting high above the base of the tree.
Image ID: 23259
Species: Giant sequoia tree, Sequoiadendron giganteum
Location: Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park, California, USA

Giant sequoia trees, roots spreading outward at the base of each massive tree, rise from the shaded forest floor, Sequoiadendron giganteum, Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park, California

Giant sequoia trees, roots spreading outward at the base of each massive tree, rise from the shaded forest floor.
Image ID: 23258
Species: Giant sequoia tree, Sequoiadendron giganteum
Location: Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park, California, USA

See more giant sequoia photos, Sequoiadendron giganteum, Mariposa Grove.

Keywords: sequoia, giant sequoia tree, photo, picture, image, Yosemite National Park, Mariposa Grove, Sequoiadendron giganteum.

Photo of California Poppy

San Diego, Wildflowers

Here are a few more photos of California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) near Del Dios, California. I got lucky with the weather, with lots of sun and blue skies the day I shot these. Now we have leaden gray skies and its supposed to be windy and cold this weekend.

California poppies cover the hillsides in bright orange, just months after the area was devastated by wildfires, Eschscholzia californica, Eschscholtzia californica, Del Dios, San Diego

California poppies cover the hillsides in bright orange, just months after the area was devastated by wildfires.
Image ID: 20497
Species: California poppy, Eschscholzia californica, Eschscholtzia californica
Location: Del Dios, San Diego, California, USA

California poppy plants viewed from the perspective of a bug walking below the bright orange blooms, Eschscholzia californica, Eschscholtzia californica, Del Dios, San Diego

California poppy plants viewed from the perspective of a bug walking below the bright orange blooms.
Image ID: 20541
Species: California poppy, Eschscholzia californica, Eschscholtzia californica
Location: Del Dios, San Diego, California, USA

See lots more California poppy photos as well as photos of Eschscholzia californica.

Photos of Eschscholzia californica

San Diego, Wildflowers

This field of dreams is a literal carpet of California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) on the hillsides above Lake Hodges in Del Dios, California. In October this hill was ablaze with the Witch Creek wildfire, one of the worst fires southern California has experienced. Five months later it is ablaze again with the wild orange and yellow hues of California poppies. Stunning.

California poppies cover the hillsides in bright orange, just months after the area was devastated by wildfires, Eschscholzia californica, Eschscholtzia californica, Del Dios, San Diego

California poppies cover the hillsides in bright orange, just months after the area was devastated by wildfires.
Image ID: 20499
Species: California poppy, Eschscholzia californica, Eschscholtzia californica
Location: Del Dios, San Diego, California, USA

See lots more California poppy photos as well as photos of Eschscholzia californica.