Hiking during the hottest of weather results in seeing plants you may never have seen before. Like Desert Needlegrass, for instance. I stopped to photograph it because it looked so pretty against the rising sun. (note: I incorrectly identified it as Arizona Cottontop. Thanks to botanist Steve Jones for the correction!).
Desert Needlegrass (Achnatherum speciosum)
Even though it is a native plant, it and all the dry invasive grasses pose a serious fire hazard.
I’ve been patiently (ok..maybe not patiently) waiting for the Scarlett Four O’clocks to bloom and was rewarded this morning…big time! The only photo I had was of a single bloom I got last year so seeing so many plants in bloom this morning in the North Access of the Preserve was very exciting.
Three other plants in the Four O’clock family were also blooming this morning. Desert Four O’clock (aka Colorado Four O’Clock), Trailing Windmills and Desert Wishbone Bush.
I’ve been busy documenting flowers for weeks and so far, Brittle Spineflower is by far the coolest!
I first noticed dozens of them backlit.
So I moved in closer
And when I got really close, I saw microscopic flowers in the tubes. How cool is that?!
I thought last weekend was a great show but I saw more Mariposa Lilies today than I’ve ever seen! This photo was taken at the junction of the Lookout Trail and Tom’s Thumb but I’m guessing you can probably see them at most higher elevation trails.
I’ve missed a few days of posting photos because I’m in the process of putting together a second edition of my flora guide and I’ve been out almost every day hiking and photographing leaving little time for anything else. BUT, as you probably know, the flowers won’t last forever so I gotta get ’em while I can!
Yesterday I spent half the day with friends and representatives of the Maricopa Audubon Society and the Central Arizona Butterfly Association. It was a scouting trip for a possible bird and or butterfly walk next Spring. The area is in the North East part of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and is one of the most beautiful trails in the Preserve. Because this area is at a higher elevation, there were still plenty of Wildflowers. To give you an idea of how much there is to see…..the trail is just 9/10ths of a mile each way but we spent 4 hours exploring! All in all, it was a very successful morning and I’m betting they will add this trail to their schedule next year.
Almost nine miles (8.64) of hiking in the North Preserve yesterday revealed wildflowers galore! The same but more of what I posted on March 6th and March 7th along with new sightings. There were some nice large areas of Poppies and Lupine on the Tom’s Thumb trail but we got there before they opened. They were scarce in the Rock Knob area but I definitely see evidence of plants so it may the last area to pop out.
Photographers FYI: Most Preserve flowers are VERY small so take a macro lens.
Click on Image for Slideshow of almost everything I saw yesterday:
Tech stuff: Canon 7D with Canon 100 Macro, ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/1500 sec
The definition of conifer is a shrub or tree that bears cones. Have you ever looked very closely at a Mormon Tea? Surprise! It’s a conifer. Look even closer at this time of year and you’ll see the cones sprouting with blooms.
Extreme Close-up of Momon Tea Blooms
Close look at Cones
A few common names for this plant are Mormon Tea, Joint-pine and Ephedra. Whatever you call it, take a magnifying glass with you on your next hike. Not just for the Mormon Tea but for all the tiny things blooming right now. The details are amazing.
Mormon Tea Shrub in Bloom
Tech info for extreme close-ups: Canon SX1. Super Macro setting, ISO 200, f/2.8, 1/1600 second. It was windy and I was hand holding so even at 1/1600 sec, there’s still slight movement.
Yesterday morning at Rock Knob I found everything I had seen on Friday except Poppies and Lupine which aren’t quite ready but I was excited to see Wild Cucumber in bloom!
Wild Cucumber (Marah gilensis)
With nothing else new, I spent some time playing with depth of field (DOF). The fun has begun 🙂
Blue Fiesta Flower
Chris and I hiked the North Access trail of the Preserve late yesterday. Here’s what I spotted.
Harris Hawks are a treat to see any time but especially when they are hunting.