This is the Wildflower Ranger Cam archive from 2009. See beautiful wildflower pictures from many Arizona State Parks. See current Ranger Cam
Enjoy the photos from the 2009 season!
Mariposa (left) & High Trail Pink (right)
Desert Marigold (left) & Cholla (right)
Walk the High Trail at Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park and explore the Cactus Garden for the next two weeks if you’re seeking charismatic native plants — and photographers: do you want some “camera ready” colorful gardenscapes? The Demonstration Garden and the Children’s Garden both have big carpets of vivid color, and are at their most photogenic during the afternoon hours. The “Demo Garden” is a short walk and is also the most accessible collection of all. Cactus blossoms dominate all Arboretum collections during early May so come out to the park for see for yourself.
Ocotillo (left) & Ratany (right)
With no appreciable rain and temperatures heading into the 90's, flowers at Catalina State Park are becoming few and far between. At the time of these photos, April 17th, there were still some small patches of poppies along park roads and the palo verde trees were in full show. All other viewing requires a little hiking. There is still a fair amount of fleabane, fairy duster and desert marigold along most trails. Prickly pear and hedgehog cacti are in bloom, but are very sparse. There are a few mariposa lilies along Canyon Loop and Sutherland Trails. New Mexico thistle is abundant along lower Romero Canyon Trail. We still have some cacti blooms to look forward to in May and June, but the spring annuals are just about done.
Pimpernel (left) & Claret Cups (right)
Mariposa Lilies are in bloom At Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park! About four were open Wednesday, and they’ll probably bloom for a just few fleeting days through this weekend, they’re not easy to find — but walk the trail directly behind the “Quincho” Argentine-style shade structure above Ayer Lake — walk behind the pole-barn straight towards highway 60 to see and photograph these rare Spring beauties. Trails of this South American collection are a good place for wildflowers this week, including a few scattered Mexican Goldpoppies, delicate blue Prickly Phlox (Eriastrum diffusum), golden Menodora, and vivid magenta blossoms on the Arboretum’s signature echinocereus, “the Boyce Thompson Hedgehog” cactus. What else will you find behind the Quincho? Rattlesnake weed, Flat-topped Buckwheat (Eriogonum fasiculatum), Blackfoot daisies at their peak and Hopbush are blooming here, too.
Choice places to see and photograph native wildflowers are the Cactus Garden, the main trail above Ayer Lake, the riparian area along Queen Creek, and the High Trail. Looking for dramatic landscape photographs of flowers and gardens? Then don’t miss the Demonstration Garden, located directly below the main visitor center. “The Demo Garden” is a short walk — and it’s the most handicapped accessible collection. There’s even convenient parking adjacent to this garden — request “Picnic Area parking, please” when you arrive and pay admission.
Does Fleabane Daisy (Erigeron divergens) truly repel fleas? Want to learn stories behind the names of our most charismatic desert wildflowers? Four guided wildflower walks will be offered during April; they’re at noon, easy 90-minute hikes included with park admission.
Sarcostemma (left) & Purple Mat (right)
Watch for Desert Marigold trailside as you’re walking past the Smith Building — and where the main trail crosses Silver King Wash look for Wild Rhubarb (Canaigre) blooming in this area. Canaigre are large, green plants with broad leaves shaped like a mule’s ears, and a single and central stalk with a cluster of flowers resembling a handful of buckwheat.
Walk along through the Cactus Garden and look for waist-high and vivid pink Parry’s Penstemon along with many Western Dayflower and Apricot Globemallow. See if you can spot the lone Penstemon subulata (red), right across the trail from Purple Mat (Nama). Short, fuzzy-leafed Bajada lupine are blooming nearby, along with foot-tall Coulter’s Lupine. This week the marquee stars of the Cactus Garden are the distinctive and vivid magenta flowers of our own signature Echinocereus — the “Boyce Thompson Hedgehog” cactus, named to honor the park's founder.
Hiking above Ayer Lake watch for the last Purple Bladderpod flowers near robust Hopbush, then thickets of the “clover-ish” Melilotus (deep-green plants capped by inch-tall yellow flower spikes). Bluedicks, too, also known as “covena,” “Wild Hyacinth,” and “papago lily.”
Ratany (left) & Maripos Lily (right)
At the hairpin turn at the bottom of the Switchbacks near Picket Post House, watch for the Climbing milkweed vine (Sarcostemma cycnanchoides), which is flowering this week — but also covered with countless tiny orange aphids. As you begin walking down the canyon and along the Queen Creek look for vines of robust “Wild Cucumber” (Marah gilensis) climbing and sometimes covering native jojoba shrubs. Also watch for nightshade and a lone Red Mint (Stachys coccinea), the only one you’ll see on the entire main trail, which is still blooming in a shaded area outside the “cave” close to the cat-walk area or chain-link fenced trail adjacent to Queen Creek.
Our High Trail is not wheelchair accessible, and is a more challenging hike — but rich rewards await the observant flower-seeker and “botano-phile” on this path. Miner's Lettuce and yellow Bush Penstemon (Keckiella antirrhinoides ssp. microphylla) are here — and Wallflower at the west end of the trail. Wallflower are those tall yellow globes on thin green stalks. Watch for patches of Purple Bladderpod (the name is deceptive – flower clusters on these plants are mostly white) this week and during the first week of April watch for the Phlox along the middle of this trail. Want to see a prime patch of rare and “penstemon-like” Red Mint? There’s a thick patch of Stachys coccinea inflorescent below the trail at the steep section of carved-into-rock steps, approximately across from the main trail’s marker #42 and olive grove. As you approach the east end of the High Trail watch for Ocotillo, or “Flaming Sword,” blooming above the creek.
The bloom at Catalina State Park continues to be very light and spotty. On March 25th, these photos were taken along the Nature Trail and the Romero Ruin Trail. There are isolated examples of desert marigold, globe mallow, brittlebush, lupine, fleabane and penstemon along various trails within a mile of parking locations. There are some nice clusters of fairy duster along the Nature Trail, and still some nice patches of poppies along the main park roads. Still a bit chilly for cactus blooms, as the park is still dipping below freezing at night (as of March 25th).
Prickley Pear (left) and Western Day Flower (right)
At Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park. Delicate blue Gilia, golden Menodora, and vivid magenta blossoms of the Arboretum’s signature echinocereus, “the Boyce Thompson Hedgehog cactus," are among the new and inflorescent species blooming this week around the trails and gardens. Best spots to see and photograph native wildflowers close-up are in the Cactus Garden, along the main trail above Ayer Lake, throughout the South American collection (walk trails below the “quincho” shade structure just above Ayer Lake) and the High Trail — which is the half-mile path located above and across Queen Creek.
Looking for big, landscape photographs of flowers and gardens? Then don’t miss the Demonstration Garden, which is directly below the main visitor center. The “Demo Garden” is just a brief walk — and its our most handicapped accessible one, there’s even convenient parking adjacent to this garden — ask about special Picnic Area parking when you arrive and pay admission.
Monkey Flower (left) and Silver Puffs (right)
Daily wildflower walks at the Arboretum are at noon through April 1, easy 90-minute hikes included with daily park admission of $7.50, or $3 for ages 5-12. Does Fleabane Daisy (Erigeron divergens) truly repel fleas? Learn stories behind the names of our most charismatic desert wildflowers; Tucson author Meg Quinn wrote "Wildflowers of the Desert Southwest" and is the special guest tour guide April 1 (Wednesday). Arizona Native Plant Society’s Cass Blodgett guides April Sunday wildflower walks April 5 and April 12.
Other wildflowers in bloom this week around the trails and gardens include: Desert Marigold, Wild Rhubarb (Canaigre), Parry’s Penstemon (lots of this!); Western Dayflower, Purple Mat (Nama), Bajada lupine, Coulter’s Lupine, Blackfoot Daisy, Fairy Duster, Rattlesnake Weed, Gilia, Menodora Flat-topped Buckwheat, Purple Bladderpod, Melilotus, Heliotrope, Bluedicks (AKA “covena,” “Wild Hyacinth,” and “papago lily”), Peppergrass (Lepidium sp.); “Wishbone” Four O’Clock, “Wild Cucumber” (Marah gilensis), Red Mint (Stachys coccinea), Miner's Lettuce, yellow Bush Penstemon ” (Keckiella antirrhinoides ssp. microphylla), Wallflower, Ocotillo (“Flaming Sword”).
Reports from rangers at Catalina State Park show a very limited wildflower bloom this season. Flowers are widely scattered and the blossoms are small. Plants began flowering the first week of March, and are drying-out only a week later. There are no cactus blooms, yet. These photos are from March 12th. There are some desert marigolds along Canyon Loop Trail and there are some small patches of poppies along the roads and near the campgrounds. Brittle bush along the 50-Year Trail just blossomed and is already drying out. Lupine along the Nature Trail are widely scattered and the blossoms are small. The weather is ideal for hiking and exploring the park, so come on out.
Wallflower (left) and Pink Globe Mallow (right)
Red Mint (Stachys coccineas), Desert Chicory, Hopbush and Monkey Flower are adding color this week to the trails and gardens at Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park. Don’t miss the special wildflower walk guided by Christine Maxa at noon Sunday, March 15, then again March 25. The acclaimed author of Arizona’s Best Wildflower Hikes: The Desert guides seasonal walking tours to point out the most colorful and charismatic flowers in bloom and share stories about plant names and their uses. Arboretum wildflower walks are offered daily in March, with staff and volunteer guides leading all other walks this month; these tours are included with daily admission of $7.50 for adults, or $3 for ages 5-12.
What else will you see this week? Thickets of yellow Fiddlenecks, Heliotrope and Popcorn Flower are the most common species seen around the gardens and trails, with a photogenic patch of Mexican Goldpoppies (picture below) near the intersection of the main trail and Silver King Wash, just five minutes walk from the Visitor Center. Botano-philes who seek out more unusual and ephemeral blossoms farther into the gardens will be rewarded with Desert Anemone, “Wishbone” Four O’Clock, and Rhyolite Bush; the complete list is below.
Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park is near highway 60 milepost #223 as you approach the historic copper-mining town of Superior. This has proved to be a good year to see and photograph flowers here because the park has been blessed with nearly seven inches of rain since November. These relatively evenly-spaced, gently-soaking storms nurtured wildflower seedlings and perennials, too — so bring your camera!
Parrys Penstemon (left), Desert Chicory (center), and Coulters Lupine (right).
Fiddlenecks (Amsinckia intermedia) are blooming throughout the Arboretum, along with London Rocket (Sisymbrium irio), Desert Marigold (Baileya multiradiata), Mormon Tea, Jojoba, Canaigre or “Wild Rhubarb,” and the tall, hot-pink Parry’s Penstemon.
Here are a few places to find less common species:
As the main trail crosses Silver King Wash look for California Goldpoppies, Lupines. Where the main trail passes through the Cactus Garden watch for one single and rare Penstemon subulata (red), along with Western Dayflower, many robust Wild Rhubarb. Unfamiliar with this one? Canaigre are green close-to-the-ground plants with leaves broad and large as a mule’s ears, with a single and central flower stalk and pale pink-and-white flower clusters.
Up near Ayer Lake see if you can spot a Pimpernel (tiny, orange, and blooming near the wooden shade ramada). Continuing uphill you’ll find Blue Phacelia (AKA “Wild Heliotrope”) blooming above the “Quincho” shade structure. Look for robust clumps of Blackfoot Daisies along trails behind this building. Uphill as the trail proceeds from the lake towards Picketpost Mansion, watch for Flattop Buckwheat, Rattlesnake Weed, Hopbush, and many Blue Dicks (also known as “covena,” and “papago lily”) at their peak this month. Lovely reddish-purple Henbit, too; Lamium amplexicaule is a nonnative – but still photogenic and is here to stay, thus worth knowing. Those white flower clusters up above Ayer Lake? Those are Purple Bladderpod (Lesquerella purpurea) which are mostly white, despite the word “purple” in their name. There’s a nice patch of tiny Monkey Flower up here, too
The highest point of the main trail gives a fine view of Picket Post Mansion: Col. William Boyce Thompson’s winter home during the founding years of the Arboretum more than 75 years ago. Blue Dicks and Phacelia dominate this area, but watch over the next few weeks for Parish’s Larkspur (Delphinium). As you descend the “Switchbacks” section of trail below the mansion watch for the white flowers on native Ryolite Bush growing from the volcanic cliffs – and also small, white Peppergrass (Lepidium sp.), and the “clover-ish” Melilotus which are all found along the trail closer to Queen Creek. Wishbone Four O’Clock is just beginning to bloom here, too.
Fairy Duster (left) and Globe Mallow (right).
The shady, flat riparian path along Queen Creek below the mansion has robust vines of Wild Cucumber (Marah gilensis) climbing over — nearly covering, in some cases — the native jojoba shrubs, and sporting tendrils of tiny white star-shaped flowers. There’s just one isolated Red Mint (Stachys coccinea) growing in the shade of the volcanic cliffs, just east of the narrow “catwalk” along Queen Creek.
The Arboretum’s High Trail is not accessible by wheelchair, but does have a few species you won’t find elsewhere — watch for Miner's Lettuce, Wallflower (yellow globes on thin stalks) and also Rock Cress (Arabis perennans), along with robust Wild Cucumber and patches of Purple Bladderpod (again, that name is deceptive – the clusters of flowers on these plants are mostly white). Look for Red Mint here, too — growing in the wet seeps along the north-facing cliffs.
The report from Lost Dutchman State Park is that Brittlebush will be in full bloom 1-2 more weeks. Lots of Chuparosa are blooming along the washes. Scattered stands of lupine in bloom with very few poppies blooming.
At Picacho Peak State Park there are not many wildflowers this season, hardly any poppies anymore (they burned out after last week's hot weather). Once green, but now dried-up fiddleneck, is in abundance. Scattered lupine and desert marigold are blooming mostly along the roadways. Brittlebush and creosote are in bloom.
Desert Anemone and “Wishbone” Four O’Clock are just two of the new species that observant flower spotters reported this week in the gardens and along the two miles worth of trails and walking paths at Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park. Bring your copy of Meg Quinn’s “Wildflowers of the Desert Southwest” and join one of the daily guided walks being offered at noon throughout March to see common wildflowers — or unusual local varietals such as rhyolite bush or wild cucumber.
Fiddlenecks (Amsinckia) are blooming throughout the Arboretum, along with London Rocket (Sisymbrium irio), Desert Marigold (Baileya multiradiata), Mormon Tea, Jojoba, Canaigre or “Wild Rhubarb,” tall, hot-pink Parry’s Penstemon and also Blackfoot Daisies.
Here are a few places to find less common species: As the main trail crosses Silver King Wash look for California Goldpoppies and Lupines.
Where the main trail passes through the Cactus Garden watch for one single and rare Penstemon subulata (red), along with Western Dayflower, many robust Wild Rhubarb (canaigre). Unfamiliar with this one? Canaigre are green close-to-the-ground plants with leaves broad and large as a mule’s ears, with a single and central flower stalk.
Up near Ayer Lake see if you can find a Pimpernel (tiny, orange, and blooming near the wooden shade ramada. Continuing uphill you’ll find Scorpionweed (also colloquially known as “Wild Heliotrope”) blooming purple above the “Quincho” shade structure; also watch for Flattop Buckwheat, Rattlesnake Weed and many Blue Dicks (also known as “covena,” and “papago lily”) at their peak this week. Lovely reddish-purple Henbit, too. Lamium amplexicaule’s a nonnative – but still photogenic and worth learning to identify. Those white flower clusters up above Ayer Lake? Those are Purple Bladderpod (Lesquerella purpurea) which are mostly white, despite the word “purple” in their name). There’s a nice patch of Monkey Flower up here, too
The highest point of the main trail gives a fine view of Picket Post Mansion: Col. William Boyce Thompson’s winter home during the founding years of the Arboretum more than 75 years ago. Blue Dicks are here along with Scorpionweed. As you descend the “Switchbacks” section of trail below the mansion watch for the white flowers on native Ryolite Bush growing from the volcanic cliffs — and also spikemoss, cloakferns, small, white Peppergrass (Lepidium sp.), and the clover-ish Melilotus which are all found along the trail closer to Queen Creek. Wishbone Four O’Clock is just beginning to bloom here, too.
The shady riparian path along Queen Creek has robust vines of Wild Cucumber (Marah gilensis) climbing over the native jojoba shrubs, and sporting tendrils of tiny white star-shaped flowers. The Arboretum’s High Trail has species you won’t see elsewhere — watch for Miner's Lettuce, Mustard Evening Primrose, Wallflower (yellow globes on thin stalks) and also Rock Cress (Arabis perennans), along with lots more Wild Cucumber and patches of Purple Bladderpod (again, that name is deceptive — the clusters of flowers on these plants are mostly white).
Recent indications are that the flower bloom is a bit sparse this year at Lost Dutchman State Park. There are poppies and lupine blooming along the trails along with brittlebush just starting. Lower elevations have plenty of desert marigold,some chicory, fairyduster, and some occasional poppies. The next 2-3 weeks should be the best viewing period. Regardless of flowers, it's still a great time to hike the desert as the temperatures are ideal.
We are looking at mostly green mountainsides at Picacho Peak State Park, just a hint of flowers here and there. Very few, spotty and localized patches of poppies are in Barrett Loop. The weather has been great for hiking and exploring the park.
At Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park we are seeing a healthy variety of plants starting to flower in the gardens (Jojoba, Blue Dicks, London Rocket, Wallflower) and some varietals can be found in multiple spots around the main trail (Covena, Fleabane Daisies, Desert Marigold). Come discover the wonder of spring for yourself. Pictured above is Henbit (left) and Desert Marigold (right).
Mormon Tea (left) and Blackfoot daisies (right).
Firecracker Penstemon (left) and Marah (right).
Mexican Gold Poppy (left) and Tree Tobacco (right).
Todays check on the wildflower bloom at Lost Dutchman State Park shows very little color with the exception of desert marigold. Brittlebush is growing rapidly and may bloom earlier than normal. It appears that this warm weather has had a drying effect on the spring vegetation. Rain forecast for this weekend along with cooler temperatures should help re-green the desert and hopefully push along the bloom.
Indications are that this year probably will not be a "banner" year for wildflowers at Lost Dutchman State Park. Although thick carpets of flowers are not visible yet the next few weeks may hold some promise. As always though, February and March are the two best months to visit the Sonoran Desert. Some poppies are starting to show along with lupine and desert marigold.
Starting to bloom at Boyce: Henbit (left) with lavender flower clusters and Bladderpod (right) with white petals.
Sow thistle (left) and Tree Tobacco which displays tubular yellow flowers (right).
Tiny, bell-shaped Manzanita flowers Manzanita (left) and Desert Marigolds (right) can be found along Highway 60 approaching the Arboretum.
It's only a 45-minute drive on Highway 60 east from Phoenix to Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park. A number of plants are just starting their springtime blooms and there's lots more to come.
The official start of Winter was just one month ago, can you believe we're already seeing wildflowers along highway 60 enroute from the East Valley to the Arboretum? Sparse, its true, but there's a surprising amount of early color for this time of year! The 20-minute drive on Highway 60 east from Gold Canyon to BTA is punctuated by native creosote and brittlebush along with occasional desert marigold. The Arboretum (milepost #223) will offer guided wildflower walks starting in March; this week and throughout February daily guided tours at 11 am allow visitors to explore the main trail and see the season's first bladderpod, henbit, wolfberry, desert marigold and asters (below) in bloom.
Arboretum Director of Horticulture Steve Carter reports the park has been blessed with more than 5.3 inches of rain during the past four months and that these relatively evenly-spaced, gently soaking storms were good for wildflower seedlings, and perennials have also benefited. Carter advises that one of the most fragrant spring flowers is berberis (also known as barberry or mahonia), and one of these holly-leafed shrubs is already loaded with flowers along the diagonal trail behind the olive grove just west of the Wing Memorial Herb Garden.
Other flowers to look for this week include rhyolite bush (white petal-rays) and also blue dicks (Dichelostemma pulchellum, also commonly known as "Papago lily" or "Wild Hyacinth"). One sole "blink-and-you'll-miss-it" example of these is blooming above Ayer Lake as of Jan. 28. Many more will be seen trailside over the next few weeks. During early February drivers approaching the Arboretum should also watch for brittlebush (Encelia farinosa) and globemallow along highway 60 — and while walking the trails watch for the subtle white-flowered four o'clock (Mirabilis bigelovii) blooming under shady shrubs along the "switchbacks" section of trail below Picketpost Mansion.
Learn more about Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park, including downloading a park map, printing out interactive driving directions and a Junior Ranger Activity.
There's no evidence yet of a large poppy bloom at Lost Dutchman State Park. If the park gets 1–2" of rain in the next few weeks it will really help. We recorded 3.50" of rain in December and .47" in January. We'll send out more flower scouts out soon.
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