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Borrego Wildflower Boom
updated: Mar 16, 2017, 9:20 AM

By John Wiley

Wildflowers in bloom at Borrego were all over the media yesterday in San Diego's radio, TV and print. So we took the half hour detour out for a look on the way home to SBA. They weren't nearly so "wild" as the last time we saw them from the air. The first pic is the same place they were most colorful (not what I'd call brilliant) by air a few years ago (far off the highway where few would see them about 8 miles NNE of the airport). This time they were lovely yet less "wild" than that time. Then the purple was thicker, with more of the white plus poppies and yellow blooms.

On the East/West straight stretch of Henderson Cyn. Rd. 3 miles North of the airport were these orange blooms. Poppies? There was only one vehicle driving and you can count how many were stopped on the shoulder. Better from the ground for sure, especially after a long hot drive across mountains and desert. Would you rather cruise up for a look at Grass Mountain, or is the unique charm of wandering through a desert bloom more rare and beautiful? Is this what you'd call a "wild" bloom?

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 763797P agree helpful negative off topic

2017-03-16 10:39 AM

If not wild, then what? Cultivated?


 COMMENT 763818 agree helpful negative off topic

2017-03-16 11:07 AM

lot of people roadside.


 COMMENT 763829 agree helpful negative off topic

2017-03-16 11:46 AM

Yes, it does look sparse in those wider views. I saw the news report and the individual flowers they held up were gorgeous. That carpet (though does look sparse from the distance) in your 1st photo is very pretty in the closer-up view, lovely. I'm going to vote on that one :) Thanks!


 JOHN WILEY agree helpful negative off topic

2017-03-16 12:07 PM

797 I mean "wild" in the sense of those epic desert blooms we've seen where the whole valley was a carpet of intense and varied colors. This is sparse and scattered in comparison, like the difference between our last look at Fig Mtn a few days ago, and the one a few years ago when it was (as we hope it may yet be this year) pervasive poppies and leaping lupine.

That said, we've enjoyed visiting Borrego on the ground when there were just a few scattered blooms. Even a single cactus blossom is a wonder to behold in that austere landscape. In case anyone's going to take the drive and look for these two thickest spots we saw in the whole valley: Purple is about here, about 1.5 miles along a trail from Rockhouse Truck Trail and 2/3 mile across the desert as you can see. Orange is about here, on both sides of Henderson Canyon Rd. Tenting out there with a coyote choir in the moonlight and waking to sunlit dew on the blossoms...


 TWO ABBYS agree helpful negative off topic

2017-03-16 02:32 PM

In the top photos, I'm sure you have captured the magenta desert sand verbena (Abronia villosa), with the white flowers being desert lily (Hesperocallis undulata). Those are lovely desert natives. I can't hazard a guess on what the yellow flowers are in the later photos but from the lay of the land I would be quite sure they are natives as well. Thanks for your photographic gifts to those of us who don't have wings!


 TWO ABBYS agree helpful negative off topic

2017-03-16 02:35 PM

797, wild as opposed to ruderal (weedy) like the pretty but nonnative carpets of yellow mustard visible on the hills around here.


 COMMENT 763876 agree helpful negative off topic

2017-03-16 03:05 PM

The wildest !


 COMMENT 763917P agree helpful negative off topic

2017-03-16 05:57 PM

829. The "flowers they held up"? Not supposed to pick wildflowers.


 COMMENT 763919P agree helpful negative off topic

2017-03-16 05:59 PM

OP. Uh, okay. "Wild" as in "out of control" wild. I get it.


 COMMENT 763920P agree helpful negative off topic

2017-03-16 06:01 PM

TWO ABBYS. Thank you. "Ruderal" is now in my vocab rolodex.


 JOHN WILEY agree helpful negative off topic

2017-03-17 12:34 AM

I don't know if it was the wildflowers, but there was a fairly strong floral aroma as we crested the hill West of the second pic location. A lot like jasmine. Maybe it was a nearby orchard or something wafted from elsewhere on the wind, but we were surprised it was so noticeable from 1/2 mile up. Do some of the desert wildflowers have a really strong aroma?


 COMMENT 763961 agree helpful negative off topic

2017-03-17 07:25 AM

John, there is an annual lupine that blooms in tat region called grape soda lupine and is so-named for it's scent (and color), which is pervasive.


 COMMENT 763965 agree helpful negative off topic

2017-03-17 07:40 AM

Speaking of fig mountain, does anyone know if happy Canyon Road is open so we can make the loop drive up the mountain?


 COMMENT 763971P agree helpful negative off topic

2017-03-17 07:56 AM

Coincidentally, from the NYTimes today: "Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is experiencing a rare super bloom... flowers such as the desert sand verbena, desert lily and ocatillo shown up close in a 360 degree video at nytimes/com/thedaily 360.


 COMMENT 763972P agree helpful negative off topic

2017-03-17 08:00 AM

The purple is the desert sand verbena.


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