|Look out for Prickly Poppy. (James Cornett)|
The Desert Sun
Spring is not over; at least not yet. There are places where wildflowers are still in bloom.
In fact, one of the most impressive wildflower displays in years is happening right now in Palm Canyon Wash north of the Bogert Trail Bridge in Palm Springs.
When I say impressive I am speaking about diversity, not dense concentrations. We are, after all, in the third year of a drought. Surface water has been present, however, in Palm Canyon Wash for a record eight months as a result of last summer’s mountain wildfires. Seeds of dozens of species, including some usually found at much higher elevations, can be found in bloom, most in small pockets along the high-water mark of the September floodwaters that followed the fires. Three mountain chaparral plants growing in the wash are Golden Eardrops (Dicentra chrysantha), Yellow-Throated Phacelia (Phacelia brachyloba) and Bush Lupine (Lupinus longifolius). Never before have I found these three species growing on the floor of the Coachella Valley.
You must go soon if you wish to see dozens of wildflower species still in bloom. Parking is limited so make sure you locate your vehicle well away from the bridge and where parking is not prohibited. To see all the wildflower species walk from the bridge south for nearly a mile then turn around and head back when you reach the concrete water drop structure. Walk south up the left or east side of the wash. Then, when returning, walk down the left or west side of the wash. I recommend arriving as early in the morning as possible, wear a hat, bring a quart of water and wear high-top shoes to keep sand out. Remember, it is wildflower diversity, not density, that I am touting at this location. The flowers are tucked away in small pockets along the wash.
If you go, make sure and check out the Cliff Swallows nesting under the bridge. Their spectacular aerobatics alone are worth the trip.
Plant species found in Palm Canyon Wash
Annual Mitra, Apricot Mallow, Brittlebush, Brown-eyed Primrose, Bush Lupine, Canchalagua, Cardinal Monkeyflower, Castorbean, Cat’s Claw Acacia, Chuckwalla’s Delight, Common Sunflower, Creosote Bush, Desert Canterbury Bells, Desert Lavender, Desert Rock-Pea, Desert Tobacco, Desert Willow, Fiddleneck, Forget-me-Not, Fringed Amaranth, Golden Eardrops, Ground Cherry, Jimson Weed, Pale Primrose, Prickly Poppy, Puncture Vine, Rabbitbrush, Rattlesnake Weed, Rose Mallow, Rose Mint, Rush, Sandpaper Plant, Shrub Tamarisk, Smoke Tree, Sonchus, Spanish Needle, Stiff-haired Lotus, Sweetclover, Tiquilia, Viguiera, Whispering Bells, Yellow Milkvetch, Yellow-throated Phacelia, Yerba Santa, White Nightshade.
James Cornett lives in Palm Springs and is the author of “Coachella Valley Wildflowers.” Contact him at JWCornett@aol.com.