Sunday, April 21, 2019

Superbloom! The Close-up View

Carrizo Plain National Monument, CA

Closeup of tiny California Goldfields, with tiny purple gilia

In my last post, California Goldfields blankets huge swaths of land with yellow. And yet they are tiny flowers. Some say the Golden State was named for great springtime blooms of Goldfields throughout California.

Closeup of common fiddleneck, a golden flower

One of the first spring wildflowers to bloom in spring on the Plain is already starting to go to seed. We saw this Common Fiddleneck at almost every site we visited on the Plain, either nearby or in distant fields.

Purple Chinese lantern phacelia, with common fiddlenecks in background

The graceful and beautifully-named Chinese Lantern Phacelia adds a lovely purple counterpoint to the vast fields of yellow and gold throughout the salt-encrusted soil near Soda Lake.

Medium blue and spotted baby blue eyes in field of grasses

Baby blue eyes appears in large numbers, but only at select sites. Throughout California their characteristics vary, with colors from deep blue to white, and dot patterns from extreme to nonexistent.

Cream cups, a buttercup-like plant with variegated white and yellow petals

At first I imagined these variegated blooms to be hybrids of nearby flowers. But Cream Cups are a naturally-variegated component of the spring wildflower bloom throughout arid parts of California.

Hillside Daisies, or similar coreopsis-like plant, with tidy tips, purple owl's clover and common fiddleneck

So many yellow flowers! It’s difficult for the casual botanist to differentiate the species, and sometimes even to see all the species. I identified these yellow Hillside Daisies, possibly correctly, by their habitat as well as their form.

Purple owls-clover in a sea of yellow flowers

Purple Owl’s-Clover, often more magenta than purple, is a striking contrast to almost any other wildflower. Not really a clover, it’s related to Indian Paintbrush. It’s said that its tiny white blossoms resemble an owl’s face.

California Mustard, a white mustard with large thin projections from stem

Yellow mustard fields in California, lovely as they are, are made up of invasive species from Europe. However, this delightful California Mustard is native. It is rarely abundant enough to form fields.

Lacey Phacelia, a purple phacelia

Arid parts of California are filled with Phacelia, a sticky and charming plant that unfurls blossom after blossom from a fuzzy curled stem. This is likely a Lacey Phacelia, or possibly Tansyleaf Phacelia.

Splendid Maricopa Lilies with Common Fiddlenecks and yellow and purple flowers in background

What a delight to be standing on a hillside, pushing my telephoto capacity to the max. We saw very few of these Splendid Maricopa Lilies, and could not get close to them without treading too heavily on the fragile environment.

Tidy Tips, Chinese Lantern Phacelia, and Goldfields

California wildflower aficionados will wonder, “Where are the Tidy Tips?” This desert classic was just coming into bloom, complimented by Chinese Lantern Phacelia and the ubiquitous California Goldfields.

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