Field Trips Log
November 2005

Sunday, 27 November 2005 (Palm Canyon Trail, Anza-Borrego)

Tom Chester and I continued his work on the plant guide for the Palm Canyon Trail which he had been doing with Wayne Armstrong recently. We were eager to saw new species might have appeared as a result of this fall's rains. One of my goals for this trip had been to photograph squaw spurge (Chamaesyce melanadenia), a species Tom had found in Culp Valley based on a tip from Ken Bowles. It is also called squaw sandmat, but both of these names are now considered to be derogatory, and a google search turns up the name 'red-gland spurge,' which seems curious to me because the glands appeared to be blackish in color, and after all the name melanadenia means 'black-glanded.' I am going with the name red-gland spurge in a nod to political correctness. Also, it is questionable whether it is closer to red-black or blackish-red. It is fairly distinctive and has a more rounded mat-like form than other Chamaesyces that I've seen. It is also somewhat tomentose which separates it from the more commonly-seen C. albomarginata and C. polycarpa.

Tom and I hiked from the Visitor Center along the paved half-mile pathway that leads to near the Palm Canyon campground, and along the wash below the parking area we found the other species that I was most interested in photographing, something that I thought I had missed this year because it is more typically a summer bloomer, and that was desert thornapple (Datura discolor). Most of the daturas along the wash were the more common sacred datura (Datura wrightii), but amongst them we found a few of the others with much smaller flowers and distinctly winged calyces. Being an annual, it does not achieve the size or stature of wrightii. Anyway, I was very pleased to find this species at last.

My two main goals having been achieved, we continued on into Palm Canyon. Some of the other things we saw that were blooming were arrow-leaf (Pleurocoronis pluriseta), knotty buckwheat (Eriogonum wrightii var. nodosum), little-leaf rhatany (Krameria erecta), newberry's velvet mallow (Horsfordia newberryi), parish's viguiera (Viguiera parishii), rock hibiscus (Hibiscus denudatus), chuparosa (Justicia californica), desert lavender (Hyptis emoryi), and sweetbush (Bebbia juncea). We also saw some star-flowered bedstraw (Galium stellatum var. eremicum) but it wasn't in bloom.