Journal archives for April 2017

April 04, 2017

Humboldt Mountain and mariposa lilies

Went with a friend to Humboldt Peak and points along the way. I hoped to find the Calochortus buds that I saw two weeks ago in flower and was not disappointed. We found several populations of Calochortus kennedyi. Interestingly, they were in mixed populations of orange and yellow flowers, which the authors of the Flora of North America separate into varieties by color. I'm not convinced, given the mixed populations and the fourth photo of an intermediate here. But better minds than I etc.

It was a wonderful mid-spring morning, breezy and at times a bit too cool, especially at the top of the peak. I found a few species new to me and was able to pin names to most of them. This grasshopper blew us away with its perfect coloration match to the soil in the area. It took some work to convince my friend that it was even there. If I hadn't seen it move we'd have missed its presence entirely.

Posted on April 04, 2017 04:02 AM by stevejones stevejones | 44 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 10, 2017


This weekend's butterfly survey in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve led to a serendipitous discovery. Mohave milkweed is a common host plant for Queen and Monarch butterflies. Previously we had known of only three small populations of Mohave milkweed in the preserve. But one group of butterfly hunters, @ezpixels among them, working in the northeast preserve found a tremendous number of Mohave milkweed plants along Old Paint Wash and Soapberry Wash trails.

Word got out, and a flurry of late Saturday night emails resulted in @ezpixels, @cactus_hugger of the Desert Botanical Garden's Seeds of Success program, Natalie Gagnon (a DBG butterfly ecologist) and I hieing ourselves out bright and early this morning to map the populations. We mapped eight locations, some of them sizeable. I suspect there are many more populations in the sparsely-botanized northeastern corner of the preserve.

In the process we added two grass taxa to the preserve flora, the non-native ripgut grass and the native appressed muhly. Also, after two spring seasons of chasing Lucy's Warblers, I finally got 'im!

Posted on April 10, 2017 04:50 AM by stevejones stevejones | 38 observations | 1 comment | Leave a comment

April 15, 2017

Coyote Canyon

My friend @ezpixels led me on a tour along Coyote Canyon Trail in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve this morning. It's an area I did not visit while preparing the preserve's flora. The area had only been added to the preserve in November 2013 when the work on the flora was winding down, so did not receive the attention it deserved.

One stretch of the trail passes through a zone where groundwater is forced close to the surface by granite bedrock. There we found many riparian plants such as monkeyflower, as well as its cousin false monkeyflower, a new species for the preserve's flora. Another addition to the flora is a single specimen of bristly scaleseed.

During the course of conducting the flora, my coauthor @chelsey4 planned and executed a seed bank study. One of the unique species that turned up in the greenhouse was toad flax. Today we found a sizeable population of toad flax growing along one of the wetter areas in the canyon.

Posted on April 15, 2017 07:18 AM by stevejones stevejones | 69 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 18, 2017

Calochortus at Humboldt

My calendar was open today so I headed back to the Humboldt Peak area to collect a few plants. Once I turned off FS 24 and onto State Highway 562, the mariposa lily show began in force. In previous visits, there were patches here and there along the highway. But now mariposas are open along almost the whole length of the road. Not only that, Calochortus ambiguus has added itself to the show at the upper end of the road just west of Barpit Tank by the hundreds. It's quite a show!

Posted on April 18, 2017 05:54 AM by stevejones stevejones | 32 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 22, 2017

Mount Ord lily

I revisited the site of this four-year-old observation hoping to catch it in an earlier stage of flowering. Sorry to say that it was a bust - it was still there, but was even more advanced than the last time.

But there were plenty of other critters present, including many thousands of Calochortus ambiguus plants at this location.

Posted on April 22, 2017 06:13 AM by stevejones stevejones | 80 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 30, 2017

Whiskey Bottle Trail

The Fraesfield Mountain trailhead is an often overlooked spot in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. The trails there pass along a wash on the northern base of Fraesfield Mountain, a large inclusion of quartzite in the surrounding granitic Pinnacle Peak Pediment. The north-facing slope of Fraesfield Mountain is notable for its vegetative similarity with the north-facing slope of Brown's Mountain to the west. Plants seen along Whiskey Bottle Trail are also found on the north slope of Brown's Mountain. There are wonderful views of the northern preseve from along that trail. Whiskey Bottle Trail is well-named; I have a half-pint whiskey bottle dating (IIRC) from the 1930's that I found in that area long before it was in the MSP; I'd return it but that could be considered littering.

Added one new taxon to the catalog, Hordeum pusillum, a native annual grass.

Posted on April 30, 2017 08:20 AM by stevejones stevejones | 77 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment