01 de abril de 2020

Just seedlings

These are the seedlings in the RestoreNet sites at Scottsdale Community College and at Lake Pleasant. I wanted to share them with several people and this seemed the easiest way to do it.

Anotado en abril 01, miércoles 01:24 por stevejones stevejones | 6 observaciones | 1 comentarios | Deja un comentario

31 de marzo de 2020

Field season

Three weeks of field season with the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy field institiute have now ended. We worked on three studies: testing fountain grass and buffelgrass removal methods, best methods of restoring abandoned trails, and a local RestoreNet project. The latter included a site at Scottsdale Community College and another near Lake Pleasant where several of the native perennial bunchgrass species are beginning to sprout. I've included photos here (and hope to have the names sorted out soon - info not in my hands at the moment).

Anotado en marzo 31, martes 17:47 por stevejones stevejones | 24 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

23 de marzo de 2020


I violated my usual rule about visiting the Tonto National Forest today. That rule is "never go out on weekends". It seems that most of Phoenix had the same idea. I have never seen so many campers and visitors. Given curent conditions, I can't blame them. Movies? Out. Desert Botanical Garden? Closed. Church? Uh-uh. It was a beautiful spring day so why not?

I was curious as to whether the mariposa lilies along the road to Humboldt Peak were open. They were not. But I was not disappointed. I saw an amazing cluster of Oenothera cespitosa across a steep wash and stumbled my way over to it. Deep grass and uncertain rocky footing complicated matters. It was worth the trip.

While stumbling to my goal I could not ignore the rattling of gunfire coming from one of the several unofficial firing ranges north of the Camp Creek area. Someone burned through about $1000 worth of ammunition with an automatic weapon or more likely a semiautomatic fixed with a bumpstock. Wonder what the hell they were shooting.

But crowds, gunfire and all it was a wonderful break from field work and this perch in front of my iMac.

Anotado en marzo 23, lunes 04:49 por stevejones stevejones | 40 observaciones | 3 comentarios | Deja un comentario

26 de febrero de 2020

Bluedicks confusion

For some time I've been blithely marking observations of bluedicks (a name which induces tittering among elementary school students on field trips, encouraging the use of the alternate common name "desert hyacinth" with that audience) as Dichelostemma capitatum. Correct, as far as it goes, but there are two subspecies, capitatum (the nominative subspecies) and pauciflorum. Only the latter is found in Arizona. Unfortunately, the SEINet range map has a sizeable number of Arizona collections labeled as ssp. capitatum. As I explained here:

"There's a large number of specimens labeled Dichelostemma capitatum ssp. capitatum on the SEINet range map. All of these were originally identified as either Dichelostemma pulchellum (the vast majority) or Brodiea capitata. When the names of these two taxa were updated to D. capitatum in the SEINet database they were assigned to the nominative subspecies. Oops. FNA has accurate distribution maps of the subspecies capitatum and pauciflorum."

I've been trying lately to be sure to add subspecific names where known or where identifiable, because occasionally a subspecies or variety is "promoted" to species or otherwise renamed.

(Thanks to @rupertclayton for tipping me to the subspecies issue.)

Anotado en febrero 26, miércoles 22:13 por stevejones stevejones | 4 comentarios | Deja un comentario

19 de febrero de 2020

The thrill is the hunt

After stumbling upon a pair of Lycium macrodon plants yesterday at the Reach 11 Recreation Area in the City of Phoenix, I was re-invigorated to search for a plant that I futilely hunted 8 or 10 years ago. This specimen of L. macrodon was collected in 1965 by the eminent Arizona botanist Elinor Lehto along "Scottsdale Road, 2 miles North of Bell Road."
Knowing that this area is Arizona state trust land, I lamented that I had not renewed my Arizona State Land Recreation Permit recently. In the past, the permit was only available by traveling to the state land department on West Adams just east of the state capitol. In the early days of the permit process, the office to which one applied was downstairs in the basement in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door reading "Beware of the Leopard." In more recent years it was possible to apply by printing out a form and mailing it in with a check.
But now we have entered the electronic age and I secured a permit within minutes by filling out this form and paying the permit fee and a one dollar surcharge. I printed out pdf's of the recreational permit and the dashboard vehicle permit and went to bed confident that I could continue the search instanter.
My search today also proved futile, but it was a fine adventure nonetheless. At that elevation the bellyflower annuals are flowering and fruiting moreso than where I live. It also demonstrated to me that in general people are awful. The quantity of flotsam and jetsam of modern life that have been deposited in piles or broadcast across the landscape was remarkable. It reminded me of the line from Yente in Fiddler on the Roof: "If god lived on earth, people would break his windows."

Anotado en febrero 19, miércoles 04:30 por stevejones stevejones | 43 observaciones | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario

29 de enero de 2020

Fire and water

Another visit to the Mountain fire area and then to a wash downstream of the fire. The wash is fed in part by the burned watershed. Nothing much new to report from the burned area, beyond the sprouting of Marah gilensis vines. A literal ground-breaking event - there were cracks in the soil where one of them was sprouting. Other than that and a small cluster of mushrooms near it, the area looked much as it did last visit.

The wash downstream was a different story. This is the wash where I found four Abutilon parishii plants. There are three now, because a flood last November took out the larger plant.

In previous trips to the wash from above, I was able to travel only so far before the vegetation became impenetrable. Approaching from below (as I did last June) I also could walk only so far before the wash was again impenetrable.

It is impenetrable no more. The flood that took out the abutilon also cleared a path through the third of a mile or so that had remained unexplored. It's not easy to get through - much climbing over or crawling under fallen trees - but it's possible. For now.

Another contrast: at the burn area site, I saw exactly one animal besides myself: a honeybee working filaree flowers. I heard no birds; not one. I stopped every now and then to glass the area. Nothing. At the lower wash site, there must have been a hundred birds in the first quarter-mile of the hike. Cardinals, canyon and Abert's towhees, a sparrow I didn't know (though I have some sketchy photos [ETA - immature white-crowned sparrow]), phainopeplas, cactus wrens, gnatcatchers and some calls I didn't recognize. Further up the wash where the walls are steep, canyon wrens. Not calling, but bitching about my presence. Can't blame 'em.

Anotado en enero 29, miércoles 01:59 por stevejones stevejones | 84 observaciones | 1 comentarios | Deja un comentario

19 de enero de 2020

Gilbert Riparian Preserve

After seeing many interesting iNaturalist observations from the Gilbert Riparian Preserve, I paid it a visit today with my progeny @ejones17. It shares parking facilities with the Gilbert Library. We got there before the library opened and the parking lots were completely full. We were lucky to happen upon a car leaving and took its space within seconds of it clearing. Bit of a human zoo, but a large, spread-out facility with many lovely trails. Not much happening botanically, though the place is thick with Lycium fremontii which were beginning to bloom. It is an eBird hotspot, with 306 species (and 106 other taxa) known from the area. I didn't run an eBird checklist, being too busy taking photos. I added a few species to my life list. It's most definitely a place worth visiting if you find yourself in the area.

Anotado en enero 19, domingo 04:45 por stevejones stevejones | 25 observaciones | 4 comentarios | Deja un comentario

17 de diciembre de 2019

Cold morning on the Tonto

Another visit to the Mountain fire area to check on conditions and revisit a senna seedling/sprout to see it a little further along. Turns out it was Senna covesii rather than the S. bauhinioides that I had suspected.
Regrowth of the shrubs is continuing. Very few of the shrubs were killed by the fire; most are recovering. I think more were knocked out by the tremendous flows through the wash from the November rains. Some were uprooted and others had the bark stripped. It's a fairly steep wash so the flows must have been rapid.
Seedling population is quite high. Mostly Sphaeralcea and Glandularia. Erodium cicutarium is particularly abundant; only one plant in flower, though. The abundant Aristolochia sprouts I saw on a previous visit have gone dormant; didn't see even one.
A couple of flowering surprises include a patch of Nuttallanthus texanus and some bonsai Mirabilis coccinea attempting to flower. I thought the latter were Hybanthus verticillata until I got a closer look.
Very little fauna activity. A few birds - heard a gnatcatcher, and saw some goldfinches in the larger wash near the road. One persistent grasshopper. It was the first really cold morning of the year. I carried an extra shirt to change into when it got warmer. Never did. I used all four layers and had trouble getting the backpack on. I'm thankful there's no video of that wrestling match.

Anotado en diciembre 17, martes 15:36 por stevejones stevejones | 39 observaciones | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario

26 de noviembre de 2019

Fountain grass removal the easy way

I revisited a wash on the Tonto NF that I visited pre- and post-Mountain fire last summer. The plan was to remove the fountain grass that I'd spotted on previous visits. Brought along a small pick for the job. Turns out I only needed it for two plants along the bank. The mid-wash plants were gone, along with many other mid-wash plants. The area received quite a bit of rainfall last week - 2.99 inches at Horeshoe Lake down the road. Given the loss of vegetation due to the fire, the wash - a fairly steep one - flowed high and fast. At some of the narrow points in the canyon the water ran at least head-high. There were quite a few changes. Areas that had been deeply cut in previous flows were filled, and other areas cut deeper. It was quite a bit easier to navigate the wash than last summer, too. Deep in, there is a riparian area; cottonwood-willow, grape vines, carrizo, etc. A number of willows had been knocked down and the bark stripped by the flow.

One unfortunate result was the loss of the largest of the four Abutilon parishii plants I found earlier. This one. It survived the fire only to be lost in the ensuing flood.

On a positive note, there were seedlings galore sprouting in the burned areas. More flowering than I expected as well. Even found a flowering Mexican poppy.

Anotado en noviembre 26, martes 01:38 por stevejones stevejones | 61 observaciones | 4 comentarios | Deja un comentario

07 de noviembre de 2019

October extremes

October 2018 was the wettest in central Arizona history in about 150 years of records. October 2019 was tied for the driest. Zero precipitation. Nonetheless, life goes on. A number of plants are in flower now into November. One of the beneficiaries of last October's rains is turpentine bush. It flowered in profusion this year, while last fall - remember, the wettest recorded - it took the year off. There is a reason for this: flowering occurs on new growth from the previous spring. Spring 2018 was one of the driest on record and there was very little to no new growth that year. That was reflected in the absence of turpentine bush flowers in the fall of last year. Partially as a result of the tremendous moisture last fall, combined with a moderate spring rain regime, turpentine bushes produced a good crop of new growth in spring 2019, leading to a good flowering season this fall.

Turpentine bush is an important plant to two groups of animals: local and migratory winged insects, and seed-eating birds. The plant can cover wide swaths of ground in the Arizona Upland and interior chaparral communities. It's a productive nectar plant, and the flowers produce numerous small achenes - tiny sunflower seed-like fruit - that feed the local and migrating finches.

Anotado en noviembre 07, jueves 14:29 por stevejones stevejones | 50 observaciones | 6 comentarios | Deja un comentario