ANZA-BORREGO ROAD TRIP MARCH 2009 PAGE ONE
Photographs by Michael Charters




I met Tom Chester, Jane Strong and a group of wildflower enthusiasts to sample the primetime spring bloom of the Anza-Borrego desert floor, starting at Little Surprise Canyon and Galleta Meadows and continuing with several stops along DiGiorgio Road, Henderson Canyon Road and the S-22 to the Imperial County line. Even though the area had some decent rainfall in November/December and again recently, the amount was just not enough to create the kind of spectacular wildflower carpets that have appeared in some years. In addition, many areas are becoming inundated with Brassica tournefortii, and it is possible that at its current rate of spread the wildflower fields of Anza-Borrego could be mostly gone in 5-10 years. This is a depressing state of affairs, and as we saw last time in the Badlands, in some places there is essentially a monoculture of Saharan mustard. Nevertheless, no one was disappointed by the flowers that were on display, and many species were evident in great abundance. An upside-down V next to the common name indicates a taxon that was new to me when I photographed it on this field trip, and an asterisk indicates a non-native species.


   
Mustard evening primrose
Camissonia californica
Brassicaceae
 
Bigelow's monkeyflower
Mimulus bigelovii var. bigelovii
Scrophulariaceae
 
Narrow-leaved cryptantha
Cryptantha angustifolia
Boraginaceae

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Cheesebush
Hymenoclea salsola var. salsola
Asteraceae

(Left: Fruit with involucre. Right: Male flowers at top, female flowers beneath.)


 
 
Small-flowered fiddleneck
Amsinckia menziesii var. menziesii
Boraginaceae
 
 
Bearded cryptantha
Cryptantha barbigera
Boraginaceae
Redstem filaree *
Erodium cicutarium
Geraniaceae
Desert fivespot
Eremalche rotundifolia
Malvaceae
Thurber's stemsucker
Pilostyles thurberi
Apodanthaceae


 
 
Pencil cholla
Cylindropuntia ramosissima
Cactaceae
Downy dalea
Dalea mollissima
Fabaceae
 

       
   
Common phacelia
Phacelia distans
Hydrophyllaceae
   
    Desert dandelion
Malacothrix glabrata
Asteraceae


 
Desert chicory
Rafinesquia neomexicana
Asteraceae


 
 
Coulter's lupine
Lupinus sparsiflorus
Fabaceae
 
Purple mat
Nama demissum var. demissum
Hydrophyllaceae
Yellow comet
Mentzelia affinis
Loasaceae
   


 
Desert trumpet
Eriogonum inflatum
Polygonaceae


   
Checker fiddleneck
Amsinckia tessellata var. tessellata
Boraginaceae
 
Smooth-stemmed fagonia
Fagonia laevis
Zygophyllaceae
 
Creosote bush
Larrea tridentata
Zygophyllaceae