Tag Archives: mcdowell sonoran preserve

desert needlegrass

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)
arizona cottontop

Even though it is a native plant, it and all the dry invasive grasses pose a serious fire hazard.

arizona cottontop

4 o’clock at 6am

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.

scarlett four o'clock
scarlett four o'clock
scarlett four o'clock

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.

wildflowers continue!

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.


what’s blooming in the north preserve

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:
bee and lupine

Tech stuff: Canon 7D with Canon 100 Macro, ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/1500 sec

mormon tea…..a desert conifer

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
mormon tea blooms

Close look at Cones
mormon tea 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
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.