2010 Ranger Cam

Ranger CamThe Ranger Cam for 2010 is now finished. Enjoy the pictures from another great season! See current Ranger Cam

Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park
Blooming Hedgehog Cactus (left) & Variable Checkerspot Butterfly (right)

Highway 60 east towards Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park continues to offer flower color — vivid cacti blossoms are replacing spring annuals this week. As of May 1 the Arboretum is on the summer schedule open daily at 6 am and closing at 3 pm through the end of August.

Wildflowers are still plentiful at the park, though peak color was mid-April. Palo Verde trees will bloom soon throughout the main parking lot. This week visitors can still find "camera-ready" flowerbeds surrounding the parking lot — and the Main Trail through the Cactus Garden sports a rich palette of color with robust Desert Marigold and Parry's Penstemon. Early morning visitors can find a few delicate yellow Evening Primrose — arrive by 6 or 7 am to see these before they close for the day.

This week in the Cactus Garden you'll see Desert Marigold, purple Spiderwort and three lupine varietals (Coulter's, Bajada, and Silver). Hedgehog cacti feature Boyce's signature echinocereus "the Boyce Thompson Hedgehog cactus," officially and botanically named to honor the founder of the garden. Near the wooden shade ramada in the cactus garden look for the last flowers on our rare Claret Cup cacti (Echinocereus triglochidiatus var. Arizonicus) which were salvaged back in 2009 ahead of the highway 60 road work near Pinto Valley.

Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park
Yellow Bush Penstemon (left) & Ocotillo or "Flaming Sword" (right)

Ayer Lake & Above has Desert Aster, Hopbush, and Flattop Buckwheat trailside near Ayer Lake. Mariposa Lilies are scarce here, but walk trails of the South American collection behind and above the "Quincho" the large, open shade structure just above Ayer Lake. Mariposas were blooming last week at the back end of the loop trail (nearest highway 60), along with Perezia, tall white-flowered Desert Wishbone, Blackfoot Daisies, Hopbush and poreleaf (off the Arboretum grounds Mariposa Lilies are still blooming up at the Oak Flat campground. As you descend the Switchback section of trail below the Picketpost Mansion and along shady Queen Creek you'll see unusually tall thickets of Blue Phacelia or "Wild Heliotrope" (Phacelia distans) — quite impressive here.

The High Trail still has thick patches of Miner's Lettuce. Take the High Trail west from the suspension bridge to see many robust yellow Bush Penstemon offering a contrast to the more common Firecracker Penstemon (P. eatonii); also White Phlox, and abundant Wild Cucumber (Marah gilensis) vines crawling over and covering native jojoba shrubs. Watch for Perezia just beginning to bloom along this scenic trail, also prickly pear cacti with nice cream-to-gold blossoms, and lovely Ocotillo or "Flaming Sword" blooming at the west end of the High Trail, closer to (and overlooking) the picnic area. Preview Arboretum Spring flowers with a three-minute video clip.

Dead Horse Ranch State Park

Monday, April 26th, 2010

Dead Horse Ranch State Park Dead Horse Ranch State Park
Golden Smoke (Corydalis)(left) & Freckled Milkvetch (Astragalus)(right).

Park Manager Les Bovee at Dead Horse Ranch State Park reports wildflower color began to accent the campgrounds, roads and hiking paths last week — just in time for visitors to enjoy during the recent Verde Valley Birding & Nature Festival External Link.

Dead Horse Ranch State ParkDramatic, tall pink Parry's Penstemon (pictured right) greet visitors right near the park entrance Ranger Station — you'll see these showy flowers throughout the park. Watch along the roads for Desert Marigold (yellow), asters, and more. Golden Smoke (Corydalis) is at peak color this week; you can photograph clusters of this wispy yellow flower on shady trails around the outer perimeter of the cabins. Overnight campers and early morning arrivals — the sweet smell is from tiny purple Evening Scented Stock and also various mustard species with lavender flowers — and if you're walking in the evenings, at night or early morning watch for large, white flowers on Evening Primrose throughout the park. Look for Indian Paintbrush (red) and vivid purple Freckled Milkvetch (Astragalus) along the paved road to Tavaschi Marsh. Once you're at the Tavaschi Marsh parking area and start up the trailhead you'll see Scarlet Gaura, a night-bloomer which is pollinated by moths. Gaura grow tall with flower spikes and coral-orange blossom clusters.

Picacho Peak State Park

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Picacho Peak State Park  Picacho Peak State Park
Picacho Peak State Park  Picacho Peak State Park
A variety of cacti are blooming throughout Picacho Peak State Park. This will be the last posting from Picacho Peak for the 2010 Ranger Cam. It's been a great season of wildflower and cactus blooms! We hope to see you at the park.

Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park
Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa)(left) & Claret Cup Hedghog (Echinocereus triglochidiatus var. Arizonicus)(right)

Highway 60 may not be the ‘yellow brick road,’ but truly is lined with gold and yellow from the hillsides of Brittlebush that drivers will see this week all the way from Silly Mountain through Gold Canyon — coloring entire hillsides up-and-over Gonzalez Pass and on toward Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park.

Pinal and Gila County both continue to offer a wealth of flower color, and the Arboretum has one final wildflower guided walk this Saturday, April 24, at 11 am lead by Arizona State Parks volunteer Cass Blodgett, along with Carolyn Hills from the Arizona Herb Association. Arboretum flower walks are included with daily admission of $7.50 for adults, $3 for ages 5-12.

 Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park
Spiderwort (left) & “Boyce Thompson” Hedgehog (Echinocereus boyce-thompsonii) (right)

Arboretum Flowers: the Cactus Garden still has the richest palette of color from abundant, robust Desert Marigold, Parry's Pestemon and Western Dayflower (also Chicory and three lupine varietals: Coulter's, Bajada, and Silver) all trailside with Globemallow (both orange and pink varietals); Parry's Pestemon, Eaton's Penstemon, and Odora (also known as Yerba de Venado). This week make sure to see and photography the Arboretum’s own ‘signature echinocereus’ – the Boyce Thompson Hedgehog, named to honor the Arboretum’s founder. Another cactus blossom to seek is the rare Claret Cup cacti (Echinocereus triglochidiatus var. Arizonicus) which were salvaged from highway 60 roadsides in 2009 ahead of the Pinto Valley expansion; they’re on the main trail, blooming this week near the wooden shade ramada. The Cactus Garden has one of the most interesting flowers of all, but you have to look carefully for these: small, purplish, spade-shaped leaves of the Dutchman's Pipe or Southwestern Pipevine (Aristolochia watsonii) are the clue: these small, dark plants are flowering this week, watch for blue-black Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies visiting to lay their eggs on this larval host plant.

Ayer Lake & Above: Blue Phacelia, Desert Aster, Hopbush, and Flattop Buckwheat are above the lake; also look for Yellow Monkeyflower, Silver Puffs, Desert Wishbone and Fairy Duster.

Boyce Thompson Arboretum State ParkMariposa Lilies (pictured right) bloom in the South American collection behind and above the ‘Quincho’ — the large, open shade structure just above Ayer Lake. Several were blooming earlier this week at the back end of the the loop trail along with tall Desert Wishbone, Blackfoot Daisies, Poreleaf, Hopbush, Menodora, and the Boyce Thompson Hedgehog Cactus. (off the Arboretum you can also find Mariposa Lilies blooming along the Silver King Mine road and also the road to Montana Mountain, across highway 60 from the Arboretum, and behind Picketpost Mountain).

Monkey flower is also rare — look for patches in the creek which runs below the main trail and fills Ayer Lake; also across from the humorous “Rattlesnakes Only!” sign on the main trail above Aye Lake.

The High Trail has thick patches of Miner's Lettuce — this week you'll see Delphinium blooming here, also unusual yellow Bush Penstemon, Purple Bladderpod, White Phlox, Firecracker Penstemon (P. eatonii), and Wild Cucumber (Marah gilensis). Lovely Ocotillo or ‘Flaming Sword’ are blooming at the west end of the High Trail, closer to the picnic area.

Cattail Cove State Park

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

Cattail Cove State Park  Cattail Cove State Park
Cattail Cove State Park  Cattail Cove State Park
Cattail Cove State Park on the Colorado River has a cactus garden maintained by volunteers at the park. This season has had wonderful blooms of many varieties.

Picacho Peak State Park

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

Picacho Peak State Park  Picacho Peak State Park
Brittlebush, Desert Marigold, Hedge Hog Cactus, & Buckhorn Cholla is in bloom at Picacho Peak State Park. Only a few scattered Mexican Gold Poppies and Lupine remain. These are being replaced with blooming Ocotillo and Globemallow.

Picacho Peak State Park

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

Picacho Peak State Park  Picacho Peak State Park
Picacho Peak State Park  Picacho Peak State Park
The Mexican Gold Poppy is becoming less abundant at Picacho Peak State Park, but it's being replaced with blooming Brittlebush, Ocotillo, and Globemallow.

Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park
Bluedicks (Dichelostemma pulchellum)(left) & Evening Primose (Oenothera caespitosa)(right)

 Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park
Owls Clover (Orthocarpus purpurascens)(left) & Tidy Tips (right)

Meg QuinnDrivers see more than ten miles worth of Coulter's Lupine and hot-pink Parry's Penstemon at their peak lining both sides of Highway 60 approaching Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park from the East Valley this week — it's worth the trip just to see the roadside color! Tuesday, April 6, Tucson author Meg Quinn (Wildflowers of the Desert Southwest, pictured) leads a wildflower walk at 11 am, then on Saturdays April 10, 17 and 24 Cass Blodgett guides the walk. Weekly Saturday flower tours are included with daily admission of $7.50 for adults, $3 for ages 5-12.

Visitors will find the most 'camera-ready' patches of Mexican Goldpoppies in the Cactus Garden, and prime color from there up past Ayer Lake and towards the Picketpost Mansion overlook. Desert Wishbone, Fairy Duster and Bajada Lupine are peaking this week; with dozens more flowers in bloom. Bring spare batteries and memory cards! Flowers to watch for this week:

CACTUS GARDEN: Mexican Goldpoppy, Desert Marigold, Bladderpod Mustard and three lupine varietals (Coulter's,Bajada, and Silver); Globemallow, Parry's Pestemon, Eaton's Penstemon, Western Dayflower.

AYER LAKE & ABOVE: Wild Heliotrope, Bluedicks, Flattop Buckwheat, Purple Bladderpod Mustard, Yellow Monkeyflower, Silver Puffs, Desert Wishbone, Fairy Duster. The big prize for flower watchers are Maripos Lilies — these should begin to bloom any day this coming week on the upper Main trail and the South American trail (walk trails behind and above the "Quincho" shade house to look for these).

HIGH TRAIL: the High trail has thick patches of Miner's Lettuce. This is also the place to see Desert Phlox, Desert Anenome (also known as Wind Flower), Wallflower, Red Mint and unusual yellow Bush Penstemon — look for these shrubs just above and west of the suspension bridge. Eleven O'Clock guided wildflower walks continue with Cass Blodgett each Saturday in April.

Picacho Peak State Park

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Picacho Peak State Park  Picacho Peak State Park
Picacho Peak State Park  Picacho Peak State Park
The Mexican Gold Poppy, as well as other varieties of flowers, can be seen through out the entire park at Picacho Peak State Park. Come out to the park and enjoy the amazing views!

 

Catalina State Park

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Catalina State Park  Catalina State Park
  
Yellow poppies blanket lower hillsides toward the northern end of Catalina State Park. The best blooms inside the park require some hiking away from your car. Best paths head north from the equestrian center and off Canyon Loop toward the Sutherland Trail. These two photos were taken on the Sutherland Trail.

 

Lost Dutchman State Park

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Lost Dutchman State Park  Lost Dutchman State Park
Lost Dutchman State Park  Lost Dutchman State Park
Warm weather this week at Lost Dutchman State Park has prompted a very nice bloom. Several varieties of flowers are blooming now including lupine, poppies, chicory, fairyduster, desert marigold, and brittlebush. Mexican gold poppies continue to increase in size and quantity. Globe mallow is starting to bloom heavily. Poppies, lupine, and chicory make for a colorful combo. Visitors are reminded not to pick flowers. It is not only illegal but also affects the desert ecosystem negatively. Forecasted rain this week will help keep flowers blooming well into April provided high temperatures do not arrive too early.

 

Cattail Cove State Park

Thursday, March 29th, 2010

Cattail Cove State Park  Cattail Cove State Park
Cattail Cove State Park  Cattail Cove State Park
It's been a remarkable season for wildflowers at Cattail Cove State Park on the Colorado River.

 

Lost Dutchman State Park

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Lost Dutchman State Park  Lost Dutchman State Park
Lost Dutchman State Park  Lost Dutchman State Park
Blooms continue to increase along the park trails at Lost Dutchman State Park. Although not as spectacular as other years, it's still a beautiful time to visit the park. Most flower viewing is along the lower, easier, and accessible trails. Mexican gold poppies can be seen along the Siphon Draw and Prospectors View trails. Today's pictures are courtesy Park Volunteer Pam Ritchie.

 

Picacho Peak State Park

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Picacho Peak State Park  Picacho Peak State Park
Picacho Peak State Park  Picacho Peak State Park
We are seeing an increase to the number of poppies at Picacho Peak State Park compared to last week. Additionally, there are a few more patches covering the mountain slopes then previous weeks. The Mexican Gold Poppy is still the dominate flower currently blooming. The Lupine, Ocotillo, Desert Marigold, and Creosotebush are showing some color at the park as well.

 

Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park
Firecracker Penstemon (P.eatonii)(left) & Lupinus Concinnus (right)

 Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park
Blue Phacelia (Phacelia distans) (left) & Berberis or Mahonia or Barberry (Berberis haematocarpa) (right)

Desert Wishbone, Fairy Duster (below right) and Bajada Lupine are new at Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park — and fragrant Berberis (also known as Mahonia or Barberry) shrubs are at their peak this week at the Arboretum. Visitors will find the most 'camera-ready' patches of Gold Poppies in the Cactus Garden.

See, photograph and learn native wildflowers — both common and rare — with Arizona State Parks Volunteer Tourguide Cass Blodgett March 27 at 11 am. Author Christine Maxa (Arizona’s Best Wildflowers Hikes: The Desert) returns to help lead the Saturday wildflower walk April 3. Flower tours are included with daily admission of $7.50 for adults, $3 for ages 5-12.

Boyce Thompson Arboretum State ParkCass Blodgett reports: "The drive up to the Arboretum from Phoenix is quite a show with pink Parry's Penstemon in full bloom mixed with orange, red, white, pink and purple Globe Mallow. Highway 60's roadside Poppies, Lupines, and Bluedicks are joined by white Desert Chichory making it arguably the best flower drive in the valley. At the Arboretum patches of Mexican Poppy and Bladderpod Mustard are sharing the Main Trail with three kinds of Lupines in bloom now: Coulter's,Bajada and Silver Lupine. Globe Mallow, Parry's Pestemon and Eaton's Penstemon are also starting their bloom and will be showing lots of color for the next several weeks. As you make your way above Ayer's Lake watch for Wild Heliotrope and Bluedicks both producing purple color; Flattop Buckwheat is starting to bloom and look for the Purple Bladderpod Mustard. Yellow Monkeyflower are getting more robust in the wet ravines and low spots. The Desert Ferns and Spikemoss were starting to dry up and might dissapear into the background, but the .2 inches of rain Tuesday may revive them. The big prize for flower watchers are Maripos Lilies, which will begin to bloom some day this coming week on the upper Main trail and the South American trail (walk trails behind the "Quincho" shade house to look for these).

And the High trail is loaded with 'salad greens' such as Miner's Lettuce, and also Desert Phlox — even the first few Desert Anenome can be found in bloom, along with what is still a single large Yellow Wallflower. Look for more of all the above along with Eaton's Penstemon in the next coupleweeks. Join me for an Eleven O'Clock guided wildflower walk March 27 — and each Saturday in April.

 

Lost Dutchman State Park

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

Lost Dutchman State Park  Lost Dutchman State Park
Lost Dutchman State Park  Lost Dutchman State Park
There are a few mexican gold poppies in bloom at Lost Dutchman State Park but we do not expect a heavy increase. Some lupine, mallow, brittlebush, chicory, and chuparosa are alsoin bloom. Desert marigolds are expected to be in heavy bloom this week also. Heavy rains are needed earlier in the year to start seed germination. The heavy rains this year were a bit too late, although the desert is exceptionally green now and offers excellent hiking. Also pictured is a Roadrunner at the park. Today's pictures are courtesy Park Volunteer Stacey Butkay.

 

Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park
Tidy Tips (left) & Gold Poppies (right)

 Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park
Owl's Clover (left)& Miners Lettuce (right)

Miner's Lettuce, Wallflower, Cream Cups and Owl's Clover are all new this week at Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park, and visitors will find camera-ready patches of Gold Poppies in the Cactus Garden.

Author Christine Maxa (Arizona’s Best Wildflowers Hikes: The Desert) leads 11 am Saturday wildflower walks at the Arboretum March 20 and April 3, and will sign copies of her books as well. See, photograph and learn native wildflowers — both common and rare — along Arboretum trails and in the gardens with experts every Saturday this month! Wildflower tours are included with daily admission of $7.50 for adults, $3 for ages 5-12.

Boyce Thompson Arboretum State ParkCass Blodgett reports: "greenery is thickening and overtaking the 'belly flowers' such as Red Maids. Desert Rhubarb are displaying giant foliage and red rhubarb stems and flower stalks. Early birds to explore the park in the morning will be treated to yellow and white Primrose blooms; arrive ere too late you'll miss them. Mexican Poppies seem likely to peak this week with the warming temperatures. Look for nice patches along the Main Trail as well as scattered blooms on the Sonoran Trail. Also look for the bright patches of yellow Bladderpod Mustard at about trail marker #23. Pink Parry's Penstemon will start to become a big source of color this week; Brittlebush and Desert Marigold continue to add to the bloom. An easy to overlook (but a gem to see) patch of Cream Cups (pictured left) are blooming on the Main Trail at marker #20, on the north side. The Arboretum sports three species of Lupines: Coulter's, Bajada and Silver Lupine. All produce spikes of blue and purple flowers and their bloom is starting to show. There are a few Spiderwort blooms but many more to come all along the first half of the Main Trail. On the upper part of the Main Trail Bluedicks are poking out of the brush in increasing numbers and they will grow even more numerous in the next week. Wild Heliotrope add additional patches of violet to the upper Main Trail and the observent hiker will notice yellow Monkey Flowers in the wet ravines.

Boyce Thompson Arboretum State ParkWith the temperatures in the 80s this week the Giant Bursage will add a musky spice to the air. See if you can figure out which of the lush greenery is producing the scent. Mexican Redbuds are the showiest of all the desert legume trees and there is a spectacular one blooming in in the Desert Legume garden and a couple more on the Chihuahua Trail. The High Trail is also getting lush — the eastern half of the trail starting to look like veritable salad bar. There are a few gems to see along the way including a few Desert Anemones; Eatons Penstemon are still developing and could bloom any time and the Bluedicks are underway as well. In the coming weeks expect Wallflower (pictured right), Red Mint, and Desert Phlox to bloom along the High Trail.

Picacho Peak State Park

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

Picacho Peak State Park  Picacho Peak State Park
The Mexican Gold Poppies are starting to be seen throughout the entire park at Picacho Peak State Park. The poppies are scattered throughout with little in the way of large fields. At this time, we are not seeing a mix of flowers, such as the lupine and Brittle Bush. We expect the amount to increase as long as the temperatures do not reach into the 80s.

 

Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park
Berberis (left) & Bladderpod (right)

Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park
Goldfields (left) & Mormon Tea (right)

Cass Blodgett reports: “Desert Lupines (Lupinus sparsiflorus) and Yellow Evening Primrose (Oenothera primiveris) are starting to bloom where the Silver King Wash crosses the main trail, and a bright patch of Mexican Poppy can be found along the Main Trail at Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park — including one rare white flower along with the yellow.”

Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park“Other Lupine blooms are just getting started along the Main Trail from the Cactus Garden all along the trail up towards the Picket Post Mansion viewpoint. A small display of Cream Cups (a less frequently seen desert poppy, Platystemon californicus) and a couple vivid yellow patches of Bladderpod Mustards can also be seen along the Main Trial through the Cactus Garden. Desert Marigold and Brittlebush are blooming throughout the park. Above Ayer Lake, patches of Bluedicks (pictured at left) (also known as Covena, Wild Hyacinth - Dichelostemma pulchellum) the most numerous and common of the desert lilies) are starting to bloom in numbers. The first, of hopefully many, Purple Bladderpods are blooming along the upper Main Trail near the Aye Lake overview — these have a deceptive name, the flower clusters are actually white.”

Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park“Also, at left of the Main Trail as you walk uphill towards the mansion watch for the shallow, moist depression which has lots of non-native and invasive Henbit (clasping leaves, square stems of a mint-family plants - and with pretty purple flowers) and also a few, small, early Yellow Monkeyflower (Mimulus guttatus) getting started. I almost forgot to mention the Redmaids — you’ll see this tiny, close-to-the-ground speading flowers throughout the Arboretum. A nice patch of Wild Heliotrope (violet blue flowers) with a few Mustard Primroses (pictured at right) mixed in are waiting just before the descent down to Queen Creek, and you can’t miss the sprawling vines of robust Wild Cucumber (Marah gilensis) which are climbing over jojoba and other shrubs along the creek — Marah plants are also below the visitor center and in most other collections throughout BTASP as well. They’re flowering now, look for tendrils of off-white “starfish-shaped” flowers.”

“Along the high trail the first Wallflower was in bloom last week, with more sure to come from March 12-19. Look up the rocky cliffs at the east section of the High Trail (the suspension bridge side) for Firecracker Penstemon (Eatonii) which should start blooming this week. BTASP’s High Trail is not wheelchair-accessible, but is an excellent place to look for wet patches of bright green mosses, desert ferns and Liverworts along with thick patches of Miners Lettuce and Bedstraw. Later in March (maybe even towards mid-April) the High Trail will have Red Mint, Desert Phlox and yellow bush penstemon.”

 

Picacho Peak State Park

Saturday, March 6th, 2010

Picacho Peak State Park  Picacho Peak State Park
Picacho Peak State Park is still very green from the recent rains, but no wildflowers. With the late rains, it is uncertain if there will be ample time for the Mexican Gold Poppies and Lupine to grow throughout the park. At the park this coming weekend, March 13 & 14, is the annual Civil War in the Southwest event, learn more and watch a video (Learn More).

 

Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park
Brittlebush (left) & Dayflower (right)

Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park
Globemallow (left) & Gold Poppies (right)

At Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park the Gold Poppy patches are thicker this week. The first Western Dayflower was photographed Wednesday, and unusual mallow species such as Abutilon palmeri are beginning to show. For the coming week wildflowers will be small and widely spaced; no “carpets of color” to report this early in the season, but there are at least two dozen species in bloom. The weekend of March 6 and 7 offers a great opportunity to explore the close-up setting on your camera.

Wildflower tour guide Cass Blodgett says drivers can expect to see roadside Goldpoppies, lupine and Parry's Penstemon bordering highway 60 from Florence Junction to the base of Gonzalez Pass — the final 15 minutes worth of your drive as you approach the Arboretum. Once at BTA the most common flowers are Red Maids, Pepperweed and Amsinckia. Mexican Goldpoppies can be seen and photographed in the Cactus Garden, along with Brittlebush, Desert Marigold, Apricot Globemallow and Wild Rhubarb. As of Wednesday there was one prominent blue Western Dayflower along the main trail in the cactus garden, and one lone Penstemon subulata. Watch for Bluedicks, Mormon Tea and and Fleabane Daisy as you continues above Ayer Lake.

On March 6 & 13 at 11 am, join Arizona State Parks Volunteer (and Arizona Native Plants Society) member Cass Blodgett for a Saturday morning guided wildflower walk; his tours continue each Saturday in March and are a chance to learn native wildflowers — both common and rare — along Arboretum trails and in the gardens.

 

Lost Dutchman State Park

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

Lost Dutchman State Park  Lost Dutchman State Park
Lost Dutchman State Park  Lost Dutchman State Park
Althought the desert at Lost Dutchman State Park is exceptionaly green this year from heavy winter rains, flowers are still a bit sparse. Do not expect a profuse bloom of poppies this year, although there are some currently blooming but they are small in size. Another few weeks may hold some promise.

 

Picacho Peak State Park

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Picacho Peak State Park  Picacho Peak State Park
Picacho Peak State Park has received over 6" of rain since September of '09. However, it has all came in late January. Typically, the rains need to start in the fall. With the late rains, it is uncertain if there will be ample time for the Mexican Gold Poppies and Lupine to grow throughout the park. To date, the park is greening up very nicely, with a blanket of green ground cover on the desert floor.

 

Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park
Bluedicks (Dichelostemma pulchellum) left & Manzanita (Arcostaphylos pringlei) right

Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park
Ragged Rock Flower (aka Rhyolite Bush, Crossosoma bigelovii) left & Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule) right

Flowers appeared at Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park the 3rd week of February — as of this report there are at least two dozen different species in bloom, but flowers are mostly small and widely spaced. No "carpets of color" to report quite this early in the season.

This weekend, Feb. 27-28, offers a great opportunity to explore the macro setting on your camera, though, and to enjoy signs of Spring: early wildflowers are adding color along the trails, and the first returning migrant Turkey Vulture was reported last week!

Arizona State Parks Volunteer Wildflower tour guide Cass Blodgett scouted the trails and gardens ahead of his March series of Saturday 11:00 am wildflower walks. Cass reports highway 60 towards the Arboretum has Goldpoppies along highway 60 around Florence Junction and Parry's Penstemon at the base of Gonzalez Pass. At the Arboretum he found Red Maids blooming along with Pepperweed and various native mustards. A few Goldpoppies can be found in the Cactus Garden, with Bladderpod imminent. Cass says the most observant flower-seekers will find a treasure in the tiny, moist “canyon-ette” about 50 yards uphill from Ayer Lake on the main trail where Bluedicks and Fleabane Daisy are blooming together. Look a few yards deeper into this seep and you see a beautiful Blue Toadflax in bloom. Another five minutes walk uphill along the Main Trail, Cass reports Larkspur shoots are emerging near the Picketpost Mansion overlook, then watch for Desert Mallow and Superstition Mallow blooming along the "Switchbacks" as you drop down towards Queen Creek. Marah gilensis (or “Wild Cucumber”) vines are thick and robust along the creek, climbing over jojoba and other shrubs -- and flowering strong this week with their tendrils of tiny, white, star-shaped blossoms. In this same area look for Rhyolite bush (also known as Ragged Rock Flower, or Crossosoma bigelovii) at the base of volcanic cliffs immediately to the right as you walk west after dropping from the “Switchbacks” down into Queen Creek Canyon.

Planning a drive east towards Globe? Watch for Deer Vetch flowering in Queen Creek Canyon, and lovely pink-and-white Manzanita flowers along highway 60 near the Oak Flat campground. No roadside Goldpoppies in Claypool, yet.

Check out the 2009 Ranger Cam (2008 Ranger Cam)
Check out the 2008 Ranger Cam (2008 Ranger Cam)

State Park Rangers use digital cameras to capture the weekly changes in the desert as the ground starts to warm and the flowers germinate.

To take your own photographs, rangers recommend a piece of black velvet for photo backgrounds. Wildflower books are available with brochures and maps in rural areas at all the State Parks. For more information on Arizona’s State Parks’ wildflowers call the hotline at (602) 542-4988 or track the blooms on the RANGER CAM at AZStateParks.com/rangercam.

Wildflower Hotline

Tips for Viewing Wildflowers

  1. Research the areas you will be going before you leave to be sure the elevation is where the flowers are blooming. Different flowers bloom at different temperature and soil conditions. Flowers in sand dunes are much different than those in the mountains. Arizona Highways Magazine has an excellent "Desert Wildflower" book. This book also tells the rainfall patterns and temperatures that affect wildflower blooms.
  2. Bring plenty of water and a picnic lunch.
  3. Bring a camera and lots of film. A magnifying glass will let you see the flowers up close.
  4. Don't touch or pick flowers, buds or seed plants. Don't step on the green plants.
  5. Be in the desert on a sunny day between 10-3:00 if you want to see poppies when they are open and the most beautiful. On cold or windy the flowers will close.
  6. Don't stop on the freeway or park on the side of roads to take pictures.
  7. Never touch any type of cactus. The tiny spines you can't see embed themselves in your skin.
  8. Watch for the wildflower pollinators: bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, ants, bats, and beetles.
  9. People with allergies should be aware that the pollen could cause an allergic reaction.
  10. Globemallow are pretty but also called "sore-eye poppies" because if you touch your eyes after touching the flower the star shaped hairs will irritate your eyes.

Rules & Regulations about Native Plants

The Native Plant laws that protect plants everywhere in Arizona require that you not harm the plants. This includes digging them up, shooting them, stealing skeletons, collecting the seeds or picking the flowers. About 30 different plants and almost all cacti are on the Native Plant protected lists. There are civil penalties and fines ranging up to $2500 and 6 months in jail for violating these laws. In State and National Parks the laws are even more specific. You can't collect plants, harm plants or animals, pick up any type of plant skeletons, collect wood, or pick up archaeological or historical objects or even take rocks from the Parks.

Check out the 2009 Ranger Cam (2008 Ranger Cam)
Check out the 2008 Ranger Cam (2008 Ranger Cam)

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All rights reserved. Unauthorized use prohibited.