Southern California: Anza Borrego SP - March 2017 - Jim Ringland
March 12-16, 2017.    Farther Afield.    As the winter progressed, it looked like 2017 was going to be a fine flower year for parts of the southern California desert. All was in place: solid initial winter rains to germanate seeds, reasonably prolific (for the desert) regular rains thereafter to keep things growing, and all this after a few years of drought. Why the last? Past drought limits competing non-native annuals (grasses and mustards) so the native wildflowers do better. The non-natives germinate well and have fewer natural pests, so in normal years they can often out-compete the natives. But in a series dry years, those advantages become liabilies: they can germinate promptly, grow a bit, but then fail to set much seed. After a few years of that the seed bank balance is more toward the native side.

As the trip got closer, it became clear "a fine flower year" was becoming a "a great flower year" at Anza Borrego Desert State Park, 50 miles northeast of San Diego. As I left, the word "superbloom" was out there. Even the Washington Post ran an article! Perhaps the hype level was high, but I was going into a once-in-every-10-to-20-year event, maybe more. Anza Borrego's last such big year was 2005, which at the time was described as a "once in a lifetime event".

The first and last day were mainly travel days. Anza Borrego is 550 miles from home. The middle three were mainly car touring with short-to-moderate walks, although the first morning I took a longer hike. Lots of pictures here, more than I typically would post for this short a trip. I visited a wide range of places: the flower fields of the Borrego Valley, drier parts of the park, and the mountains above. I saw an enormous range of new (for me) plants: this trip adds 29 new plant genera and 6 new plant families to my galleries, plus 27 new species to existing families and genera.
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