Category

Wildflowers

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

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

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.

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

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.