Anza-Borrego Wildflower Update – 2011

Ron Niebrugge Anza-Borrego, California, Photos, Travel 8 Comments

Barrel cactus, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California.

Barrel cactus, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California.

I have had a few inquires on the wildflower conditions here – I noticed it has been a couple of weeks since my last update, and with the weekend approaching, now seems like a perfect time.

I personally tend to group the wildflowers by where they grow, either in rocky terrain, or in the sandy areas.  I imagine the wildflower experts would roll their eyes to such a simple classification, but it makes it easier for me.  🙂

That said, this has been a good year for the wildflowers that grow in the rockier  regions – things like brittle bush and chuparosa are looking good.  This has been where I have been spending much of my time – pretty much along the base of the mountains, and in the canyons leading into the mountains all have a nice variety of color, including some a few early bloom cactus.

Probably the best area in the park still has to be Borrego Palm Canyon.  Thanks to recent rains, the stream now flows all the way down to the campground, and there is a wide variety of wildflowers.  Plus, the sheep have been seen in there regularly – yesterday I saw about a dozen including the same band of newborn ewes that I spotted a couple of weeks ago!

Now the sandy ares are a different story, and have only improved a little from two weeks ago.  The local newspaper quoted local park official who claimed this has been one of the “weirdest” years they have ever seen – I think that is true for much of the nation.  In January they had temperatures pushing 90, but then had a cold spell where it dropped to 24.  Local “experts” were partly blaming the freeze on the poor showing.  I was skeptical at first, but after doing a bit of hiking, I would now tend to agree.  I have found numerous dried up “dead” wildflowers like verbena that do appear to have been killed by something, possibly freezing.  And clearly the widespread sahara mustard isn’t helping any.

Two weeks ago, I couldn’t find any verbena or desert gold, but now, there does seem to be a second round of flowers – possibly ones that hadn’t sprouted before the freeze.  On my daily exercise run – usually in Coyote Canyon, I’m now seeing numerous patches of verbena, dune primrose and desert gold in places that didn’t have any two weeks ago.  Now these are very small patches unusable as a foreground in a landscape image, but adequate if you wanted to do wildflower closeups with a macro lens.

According to the local newspaper – Anza-Borrego naturalists did think this would be a very good year for cactus wildflowers and I would agree – I’m seeing lot of cactus loaded with buds just waiting to bloom.  The cactus tend to bloom later and should be a lot better in a couple of weeks.  As far as the wildflowers go, I would say this is about peak – some areas of Borrgo Palm Canyon area already declining.  So if you are thinking of a visit, I would say come this weekend, or wait for the cactus bloom.

Comments 8

  1. Pingback: Ron Niebrugge Post On Anza Borrego « Natural History Wanderings

  2. Uh-oh! I can’t believe the sheep are still around. I want to see them so bad! I have never been there at the right time before. I think that sound I hear in the background is lots of gas money going down the drain. 😉

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    Thanks everyone!

    Hey John – I’ll be happy to put you on some desert bighorn if you can put me on some of those bobcats you are always photographing!

  4. Thanks for the update Ron,
    We are going to head out for the day Sunday. Haven’t decided on a location yet.
    Our friend wants to do a 14 mile round trip hike which sounds a bit ambitious. 🙂


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