The prolific blue dick bloom along Forest Service Road 419, en route to the Barnhardt Trailhead near Rye, Arizona from this past Tuesday.
Detail of strawberry hedgehog cactus from the Gateway Saddle area in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.
Though the annual show might be coming to an end, the perennial event is just starting here in the Arizona desert so there’s plenty of excellent wildflower photography opportunities remaining even if the Mexican gold poppies we all love are starting to fade. Here’s what we’ve seen out there since our last update:
Beeline Highway (Highway 87): If poppies are what you seek, the sides of the road are still showing some patches of the yellow flower among other blooms like globemallow and brittlebush.
McDowell Sonoran Preserve: The Gateway Saddle area off the Gateway Loop Trail is showing blooming Strawberry Hedgehog cacti, while the brittle bush is just OK. Off 128th Street, near Tom’s Thumb Trailhead, carpets of yellow Goldfields cover the desert. The banana yucca should start blooming in a week or two. For maps and trail information for the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, visit www.scottsdaleaz.gov/Assets/Public+Website/preserve/TrailMaps.pdf
(Additional locations/information after the photo)
View of Four Peaks with brittlebush from the McDowell Sonoran Preserve
Sego lily along Forest Service Road 419 en route to the Barnhardt Trail near Rye, Arizona
Forest Service Road 419 (location #44 in our Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildflowers book): Sick of poppies but still want to photograph a larger, showy flower? Make the drive to FSR 419 outside of Rye (marked as the Barnhardt Trailhead turnoff from Highway 87) to see an awesome sego lily – also known as mariposa lily – bloom in progress! In addition to white flowers and many budding, not-yet-blooming plants, you’ll also see a prolific blue dick bloom (see photo above) as well as plenty of goldfields and desert onion. It’s a lot cooler up there (41 degrees Fahrenheit on Tuesday at sunrise), so don’t forget to throw in a jacket to stay warm until the sun comes up!
Devil’s Potato Patch (location #46): The upper south-facing flanks are just starting to display brittlebush color, but peak is likely a week or more away.
Cline Cabin Road (location #47): Poppies are burned in the lower elevations, but the fairy duster has exploded. In the lowlands, you’ll also find blooming banana yucca, globemallow, and strawberry hedgehog cacti. The brittle bush bloom is likely a week or more away…if a great show is in cards at all here. Some of the Engelmann’s prickly pear cacti have started budding – no blooms sited yet though. As you travel higher up the mountain, just prior to the burn area, keep an eye out for poppies, lupine, blue dicks, strawberry hedgehog cactii and rock escheveria on the south-facing hillside. As you drive deeper into the scorched trees, purple nightshade has started to put on its own show.
One final reminder: As you venture out, keep a watch out for rattlesnakes. Though a fear of them should not prevent you from enjoying and exploring the desert, we simply need to start watching our step as we travel in their rocky, desert habitat during this warmer weather.
Colleen and Paul