Category

Flora

California Poppies — Bug’s Eye View

San Diego, Wildflowers

More California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) madness. These were shot with a super-turbo-customized tilt-shift-micro-bugeye lens I just received from Canon Covert Services.

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: 20540
Species: California poppy, Eschscholzia californica, Eschscholtzia californica
Location: Del Dios, San Diego, California, USA

Photos of Elsinore Poppies

Wildflowers

Last week I spent a few hours photographing the California poppy blooms close to home. Today I got out with a friend and we hiked around the Santa Rosa Plateau and the hills around I-15 in Elsinore, looking for good stuff to photograph. These California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) are from today near Lake Elsinore, high in the hills above I-15:

A photographer trains his camera on a bright orange bloom of California poppies, Eschscholzia californica, Eschscholtzia californica, Elsinore

A photographer trains his camera on a bright orange bloom of California poppies.
Image ID: 20504
Species: California poppy, Eschscholzia californica, Eschscholtzia californica
Location: Elsinore, California, USA

California poppy plants viewed from the perspective of a bug walking below the bright orange blooms, Eschscholzia californica, Eschscholtzia californica, Elsinore

California poppy plants viewed from the perspective of a bug walking below the bright orange blooms.
Image ID: 20505
Species: California poppy, Eschscholzia californica, Eschscholtzia californica
Location: Elsinore, 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

Photo of Dune Evening Primrose

California, Desert, Wildflowers

My favorite desert flower to photograph is the dune evening primrose (Oenothera deltoides). It is so elegant and striking that even a blind monkey with a broken camera can get a good shot of this flower. I’ve seen them in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park during years of good spring bloom, this year being one of them. This from Sunday morning:

Dune primrose (white) and sand verbena (purple) bloom in spring in Anza Borrego Desert State Park, mixing in a rich display of desert color.  Anza Borrego Desert State Park, Oenothera deltoides, Abronia villosa, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Dune primrose (white) and sand verbena (purple) bloom in spring in Anza Borrego Desert State Park, mixing in a rich display of desert color. Anza Borrego Desert State Park.
Image ID: 20464
Species: Dune Evening Primrose, Sand Verbena, Oenothera deltoides, Abronia villosa
Location: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Anza Borrego, California, USA

Found throughout the Mojave, Sonoran and Great Basin deserts of the southwest, dune evening primrose forms a soft white four-petal flower with yellow center, sometimes turning pink or light brown as they age. Dune evening primrose grows in clusters, often mixed with sand verbena. Coyote Canyon in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is chock full of dune evening primrose right now.

Photos of Anza-Borrego Desert Wildflowers

California, Desert, Wildflowers

I got out for a quick look at some wildflowers at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park on Sunday morning. I got out there at 6am just as the sun was rising, and by 8am the light had grown so harsh I put my camera away and just hiked around. The bloom is definitely on and will be going for a few weeks I think. My guess is that it will be good but not great, at least not surpassing the bloom of a few (was it three?) springs ago, but at least it is better than the poor showings we had the last two years. One thing I noticed was a huge abundance of desert lilies. In one area I hiked, I had a hard time finding a place to step without smashing small desert lilies, they were everywhere. The cluster shown here, composed of white dune evening primrose and purple sand verbena, is literally inches from Henderson Canyon Road.

Dune primrose (white) and sand verbena (purple) bloom in spring in Anza Borrego Desert State Park, mixing in a rich display of desert color.  Anza Borrego Desert State Park, Oenothera deltoides, Abronia villosa, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Dune primrose (white) and sand verbena (purple) bloom in spring in Anza Borrego Desert State Park, mixing in a rich display of desert color. Anza Borrego Desert State Park.
Image ID: 20466
Species: Dune Evening Primrose, Sand Verbena, Oenothera deltoides, Abronia villosa
Location: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Anza Borrego, California, USA

Photos of Ancient Bristlecone Pine Trees

Icons, Trees, White Mountains

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 Inyo National Forest in the White Mountains of California, where two exemplary groves (Schulman and Patriarch) can be accessed by car. These photos were taken in the Patriarch Grove, but my stock of images includes photos from the Schulman Grove as well.

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

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: 27782
Species: Bristlecone Pine, Pinus longaeva
Location: Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, 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.

Bristlecone pine rising 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 rising above the arid, dolomite-rich slopes of the White Mountains at 11000-foot elevation. Patriarch Grove, Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest.
Image ID: 17476
Species: Bristlecone Pine, Pinus longaeva
Location: White Mountains, Inyo National Forest, California, USA

Bristlecone pines rising 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 pines rising above the arid, dolomite-rich slopes of the White Mountains at 11000-foot elevation. Patriarch Grove, Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest.
Image ID: 17478
Species: Bristlecone Pine, Pinus longaeva
Location: White Mountains, Inyo National Forest, California, USA

Bristlecone pines rising 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 pines rising above the arid, dolomite-rich slopes of the White Mountains at 11000-foot elevation. Patriarch Grove, Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest.
Image ID: 17479
Species: Bristlecone Pine, Pinus longaeva
Location: White Mountains, Inyo National Forest, California, USA

Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest photos
Pinus longaeva photos
Bristlecone pine tree photo

Keywords: ancient, bristlecone, pine, tree, photo, picture, stock photos, image, pinus longaeva, california, white moun

Fall Comes to the Eastern Sierra

California, Sierra Nevada, Trees

For a few years I have been interested in witnessing the famous fall colors of the Eastern Sierra, but never had the time to drive up Highway 395 and take a look. I finally managed to squeeze 36 hours out of my schedule recently and get up to Bishop, and I was not disappointed. The weather was pleasant, warm and sunny, and the aspen trees were superb. I was particularly happy with images I shot with a fisheye lens, since I was able to cram as much detail into the frame as possible and the resulting colors were deep and rich. This perspective is quite contrary to the conventional images one sees of autumn aspens and mountain landscapes, typically photographed with medium-wide rectilinear lenses, and not for everyone. The photo below was shot just below the dam at Lake Sabrina in the Bishop Creek Canyon, shortly after the sun rose over the peak and lit the lake and tops of the trees.

Aspen trees display Eastern Sierra fall colors, Lake Sabrina, Bishop Creek Canyon, Populus tremuloides, Bishop Creek Canyon, Sierra Nevada Mountains

Aspen trees display Eastern Sierra fall colors, Lake Sabrina, Bishop Creek Canyon.
Image ID: 17547
Species: Aspen, Populus tremuloides
Location: Bishop Creek Canyon, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California, USA

Eastern Sierra photos
Aspen photos (Populus tremuloides)

Nurse Log Photo

National Parks, Olympic, Trees, Washington

A “nurse log” is a tree that has fallen and, in the process of decay and rotting away, provides nutrients and a substrate for other plants, including seedling trees, to root and grow. Eventually these plants overwhelm the nurse log which rots away and is completely replaced by the new growth. This photo of a nurse log in Olympic National Park, near Sol Duc Falls, was recently selected for use in a permanent exhibit at the Oregon Zoo to illustrate Pacific Northwest temperate rainforest natural history.

A fallen tree serves as a nurse log for new growth in an old growth forest of douglas firs and hemlocks, with forest floor carpeted in ferns and mosses.  Sol Duc Springs, Olympic National Park, Washington

A fallen tree serves as a nurse log for new growth in an old growth forest of douglas firs and hemlocks, with forest floor carpeted in ferns and mosses. Sol Duc Springs.
Image ID: 13755
Location: Sol Duc Springs, Olympic National Park, Washington, USA

Red Barrel Cactus Photos, Anza Borrego Desert State Park

Cactus, California, Desert, Wildflowers

Thanks to John Dougherty for kindly helping us to correctly identify a number of flowering plants from recent visits to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. One of our favorite subjects was the Red Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus) which were just beginning to show their blooms.

Barrel cactus, brittlebush and wildflowers color the sides of Glorietta Canyon.  Heavy winter rains led to a historic springtime bloom in 2005, carpeting the entire desert in vegetation and color for months, Ferocactus cylindraceus, Encelia farinosa, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Anza Borrego, California

Barrel cactus, brittlebush and wildflowers color the sides of Glorietta Canyon. Heavy winter rains led to a historic springtime bloom in 2005, carpeting the entire desert in vegetation and color for months.
Image ID: 10899
Species: Red barrel cactus, Ferocactus cylindraceus, Encelia farinosa
Location: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Anza Borrego, California, USA

Barrel cactus, Glorietta Canyon.  Heavy winter rains led to a historic springtime bloom in 2005, carpeting the entire desert in vegetation and color for months, Ferocactus cylindraceus, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Anza Borrego, California

Barrel cactus, Glorietta Canyon. Heavy winter rains led to a historic springtime bloom in 2005, carpeting the entire desert in vegetation and color for months.
Image ID: 10906
Species: Red barrel cactus, Ferocactus cylindraceus
Location: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Anza Borrego, California, USA

Barrel cactus, Glorietta Canyon.  Heavy winter rains led to a historic springtime bloom in 2005, carpeting the entire desert in vegetation and color for months, Ferocactus cylindraceus, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Anza Borrego, California

Barrel cactus, Glorietta Canyon. Heavy winter rains led to a historic springtime bloom in 2005, carpeting the entire desert in vegetation and color for months.
Image ID: 10905
Species: Red barrel cactus, Ferocactus cylindraceus
Location: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Anza Borrego, California, USA

Barrel cactus, brittlebush, ocotillo and wildflowers color the sides of Glorietta Canyon.  Heavy winter rains led to a historic springtime bloom in 2005, carpeting the entire desert in vegetation and color for months, Ferocactus cylindraceus, Encelia farinosa, Fouquieria splendens, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Anza Borrego, California

Barrel cactus, brittlebush, ocotillo and wildflowers color the sides of Glorietta Canyon. Heavy winter rains led to a historic springtime bloom in 2005, carpeting the entire desert in vegetation and color for months.
Image ID: 10919
Species: Red barrel cactus, Ferocactus cylindraceus, Encelia farinosa, Fouquieria splendens
Location: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Anza Borrego, California, USA

Keywords: barrel cactus photo, flowering cactus, cacti, red barrel cactus, ferocactus, desert Anza-Borrego desert state park.

Canyon Sunrise, Anza Borrego Desert State Park

California, Desert, Wildflowers

Anza Borrego Desert State Park is currently experiencing an epic, once-in-a-lifetime bloom of desert wildflowers, bushes and cacti. The sand verbena and desert primrose flowers that had covered the valley floor so spectacularly in places in February seem to be receding or largely gone, replaced with poppies and lupine. However, the principal attraction now is a profusion of brittlebush filling the canyons and coloring the hillsides on the east side of the valley with yellow. The slopes along the Montezuma Grade leading down to Borrego Springs from the west are bright with brittlebush, so that they appear entirely yellow and green from afar. The density of brittlebush continues down toward the valley and into the canyons, washes and alluvial fans. Barrel and cholla cactus and ocotillo are just now beginning to bloom, so desert color in Anza Borrego should continue to improve for at least a few more weeks. There are many small assorted flowers still, along with caterpillers (munching the flowers) and butterflies. The following is a blended exposure shot at sunrise, composed of three images blended to account for the extreme range of light that neither film nor digital sensor can adequately capture in a single exposure:

Brittlebush, ocotillo and various cacti and wildflowers color the sides of Glorietta Canyon.  Heavy winter rains led to a historic springtime bloom in 2005, carpeting the entire desert in vegetation and color for months, Encelia farinosa, Fouquieria splendens, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Anza Borrego, California

Brittlebush, ocotillo and various cacti and wildflowers color the sides of Glorietta Canyon. Heavy winter rains led to a historic springtime bloom in 2005, carpeting the entire desert in vegetation and color for months.
Image ID: 10895
Species: Brittlebush, Encelia farinosa, Fouquieria splendens
Location: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Anza Borrego, California, USA

See all the photos from this shoot.

Keywords: Anza Borrego Desert State Park, photo, photographs, wildflower.