For Wickenburg area residents and winter visitors who were fortunate to be here in the spring of 2005, we were treated with a magnificent display of high desert flowers and cactus blooms, lasting from March through May. The area received 8.62 inches of rain in the last three months of 2004, followed by more than 7.5 inches between January and March of 2005. The result was a veritable carpet of Owl’s Clover; Lupine; California Poppies; Desert Marigold; Brittle Bush; Globemallow and many other, less profuse, flowers.
The photos included in this article were taken in the area of Blue Tank Wash and Red Top Mountain, (which is) north of Constellation Road.
Local residents will recall that Blue Tank road was the only way for many residents to reach town due to the flooding of the Hassayampa River.
This photo shows a field of Owl’s Clover on the south side of Blue Tank Wash. The clover literally covered the entire hillside for an area of 15 to 20 acres.
Even the smallest cacti were not to be outdone by the local flowers! This photo shows a very small cactus with two “pods” protruding from the top. I do not know if these followed or preceded any flowering activity and, unfortunately, I was unable to locate this tiny cactus again in follow up trips. The cactus was about four inches in height. If anyone knows the proper name, please let me know! It was located on the south side of Blue Tank Wash, as well.
Just north of Blue Tank Wash is a trail that leads to Red Top Mountain. The area is heavily covered with Saguaro, Ocotillo, Barrel Cactus and Cholla. I have never been a big fan of the Cholla, for reasons that most outdoor Arizonans will appreciate. There is a point along this trail where you will suddenly feel that you have entered a Cholla “forrest”, for lack of a better term. This photo was taken on April 9th, just as these cacti were beginning to bloom. About a week later this was a field of milky white blooms.
The relative abundance of rain also gave us the rare opportunity to see the Mariposa Lily in bloom. Some of my research into this flower states that it can go up to five years between blooming episodes, and that it is truly dependent upon extra-ordinary rain cycles. These two photos show orange and yellow blossoms. Note that each petal has a pointed tip, as distinguished from the more profuse California Poppy. I found these on the south side of Blue Tank Wash. If you are interested in seeing the Mariposa Lily up close, be prepared to do a bit of hiking, or find a friend with a horse! A friend of mine says he has seen fields with many hundreds of lilies in years past, but I fear we will need much more rain before this happens again.
This photo was taken between Constellation Road and Blue Tank Wash.
If anything, it proves that the best observing is always done on foot! This small cluster of purple flowers was completely surrounded by older cacti. It seemed as though they were protecting the new growth with their wall of thorns.
No photo journal would be complete without a picture of the stately Ocotillo in bloom. This photo shows the tip of a very mature Ocotillo in full bloom, with the western edge of Red Top Mountain in the background. This photo was taken in mid-April 2005. This year, we have seen fewer blooms and very little leafing of the Ocotillo. Hopefully, the Monsoons will help.
Just a note to everyone in closing: Please respect the awesome beauty of nature that God has given us. Enjoy it, but protect it.
Last 5 posts by Allan Hall
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